Land investigation

6 April 2017
by aims

I’m in the fortunate position of having identified an infill plot within a family property. My intention is to split and transfer the land once I obtain planning permission to build a small house. I’ve been advised two different points which have made it a little tricky:
1) Perform all the checks on the land before getting involved with the design and planning stage to make to avoid me wasting money in case I can’t build
2) Go straight ahead with the design and planning stage (aslong as there aren’t any restrictive covenants) as planning should pick up any of the other major issues anyway.

From experience, which of the two options above is the better route? If I was to go for point 1 and research the land, what should I be investigating?
a)Covenants – I have the Title register and the covenant is not applicable to my build
b)Land Survey – what would need to be investigated? I’ve had mixed responses from surveyors where some have mentioned they would not be able to help investigate
c) Solicitor – various searches i.e. local authority, water, environmental. I’ve also had mixed responses from Solicitors who say I don’t need to carry out the searches before planning
d)Services – Water pipes locations, national grid
e)Anything else?

Many thanks for your help!


These two options are a little black and white. I’d recommend a middle ground approach, as follows:
1. Have a look at your council’s Local Plan to see if the plot is in an area where restrictive policies apply that would obviously rule out building, or if there’s anything planned for the area you don’t like. If not:
2. Prepare some sketch plans and photos of the site and seek pre-application advice. This shouldn’t cost you a lot and will not only reveal the council’s attitude to building on your land, but also could flush out some issues that might bear on whether you can build or the cost of doing so. Assuming all is well, move on to:
3. Check with service providers that there aren’t any pipes, cables etc under the plot.
4. If there is any history of possible contamination, you’ll need to have this investigated as part of your planning application. If there could be protected species on site, anything of archaeological interest or if there are trees that could be affected, again, you’ll have to provide surveys with your application, so get these done.
5. Make your application.

Mike Dade (Build It expert)

7 April 2017

Hi Mike,

Thanks for the advice. I have checked the councils local plan and this seems fine. The part where you mention to “check with the service providers if there is anything under the plot” seems to be the tricky one. It seems to be mixed with free services or paid for searches. I have obtained a free map from National Grid which shows their electricity and gas apparatus in my area and also a report from the linesearchbeforeudig website. However in order to obtain information about water/sewage pipes, telecoms, etc it seems I need to pay for property searches (similar to Solicitor searches?) which can range up to £600 for a full utilities search. I have no issue paying but want to avoid paying for duplication or information I can easily obtain for free. In essence, do you have any advice on the best way to obtain services information and whether I should be paying for the information or not?

Many thanks for your help,

12 April 2017
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