When choosing a block of land to buy for the purpose of building a house there are a lot of factors and costs to consider. So what’s the smartest and cheapest way to go about it? A lot can have to do with the location of where you want to put your future house. The average block of land in Adelaide, for example, costs less than the average block of land in Sydney or Melbourne; a city block costs more than a regional one. But for most of us, we live where we live, and moving interstate or hours away isn’t an option when it comes to choosing our piece of land. Fortunately, there are other steps we can take to ensure we’re making an informed decision.
First of all, location is actually important. We may not fancy moving to another city or town, but prices for a block of land vary from suburb to suburb and, as a general rule of thumb, decrease in price the further you get from a city or town centre. Think about your needs, your family’s needs, and how long you’re prepared to travel to work; an extra fifteen minutes in your daily commute could make a big difference in the cost of a block of land. Also think about what you want to put on your block: a small house, a big house, a garden, a four car garage? This is important because the bigger a block of land, the more expensive it is. Why pay for an extra 100sqm in space if you don’t
actually need it?
It’s also important to understand that not all blocks of land are the same, even ones that cost a similar amount to acquire, even blocks in the same neighbourhood or the same street. How is that possible? Site costs. A sloping or hilly block costs more to build a house on than a flat block. For example, a block that needs a deep site cut will require excavation work, the soil will need to be taken away, and a retaining wall required to support the cut earth. This can cost tens of thousands of dollars. At the opposite end of the scale, putting a house on a steep slope will require extra engineering, more expensive materials like large steel beams, and an increased height risk for your builders and trades people, which means additional and costly safety measures.
Then there’s the soil quality itself. Rocky soil and clay are harder to work with and cut into, they also cost more to take away; soft boggy soil requires additional engineering so that a house doesn’t sink or sag over time. Above the ground, if there are established trees on the block, these may need to be cut down and carted off too, and that isn’t cheap either.
Ideally, you want a block of land that best fits your needs, but in terms of value, a block that’s nice and flat, has good quality soil, and comes without the hassle of needing to remove vegetation is going to be worth building something upon.