Building a new home is proving to be a popular choice for those wanting to get onto the property market. And for good reason! Building a new home is often a more affordable housing option that ensures you get a brand-new, energy efficient home opposed to buying an established home that needs constant upkeep and maintenance. And with a wide range of land options available, building a new home allows you to choose exactly where you want your home to be, so you can have the lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of!
But when it comes to buying land, where do you start?
At Geelong Homes, we can support our clients through this by providing advice and guidance or by directing you to a land agent who can help you find the right block for the home and lifestyle you want.
One of those land agents is Sam Parsons, the director of real estate agency Avenue Five. Recently we spoke to him and asked for his top advice on how to navigate your way through purchasing land for your dream home.
This is what he had to say:
Do your research
Geelong, the Surf Coast, the Golden Plains, Colac Otways and Ballarat offer so many different land options – making your decision even more of a challenge.
Sam says it’s imperative to speak to an expert before you start.
“It can make or break it for some clients,” Sam says. “Understanding the process from the start is very important and the more upfront information and education you have will make the process of buying and building fun and smooth, and will make you want to do it again and again.
“The Geelong Homes team is experienced and educated to give as much information upfront. They will set the expectations and ensure clients understand and are happy with the process.”
Sam says all buyers should understand the additional costs of preparing land for a build.
“Take your time,” Sam says. “Slope and fall is a huge one and we often see and hear purchasers that didn’t understand the real level on the fall of the block or seek advice from the builder they may be wanting to build with. These underground site costs can really break a dream and make the client have to compromise on their build, landscaping and lifestyle.”
If you’re restricted by budget, then it’s important to research all the available options and keep an open mind to different locations.
“Don’t say no to an area without giving it a chance,” Sam says. “Understand what’s currently there and what will be there in the future as this can really help a clever purchase.
“Understand the vision of the area, also understand what the land value will be compared to your overall budget and speak to the builder to get some ideas on what your overall costs may be.”
What to look out for in Greenfield Estates
Affordability and amenities make greenfield estates, or new suburbs, an appealing and easy option for those seeking land. Areas include Geelong spots such as Armstrong Creek, Mt Duneed, Fyansford, Leopold and Lovely Banks through to the Surf Coast areas in towns such as Torquay, Ocean Grove and Point Lonsdale. Then there’s the Golden Plains with Bannockburn and across to Winchelsea, Colac and up to Ballarat — all towns offering estates with blocks of land that vary in size and offer burgeoning community hubs.
“It’s great as you can build your dream home in a location you can choose to be in,” Sam says.
“Like-minded community individuals live here that want to say hi, that want to meet their neighbours, that want to feel part of a new community.
“You can plan to buy next door to family, or your friends around the corner.
“The amenity and master planned communities now have so much value to offer and are often in strategically located areas such as Armstrong creek or the Geelong Northern growth corridor.”
Greenfield estates are the most straight-forward option when building a new home in terms of land that’s titled and ready to go, however there are still things to take into consideration before purchasing.
“Consider the type of street,” Sam says. “Is it a quiet street? Is it a thoroughfare? Is it close to the walking paths, playgrounds and parks? Where are the amenities? Can you walk the kids to the local school or to the shops?”
Sam says to keep an eye on the size of the block and its orientation to make sure it can fit your ideal floor plan. Orientation is most important, as it determines how your new home can take advantage of the northern sun and ultimately create a more energy-efficient home.
“An odd-shaped lot can be a challenge to site the home, and slope can create large costs and issues with fitting the home on the land correctly,” he says.
“I often say for slope, what you think it is with your naked eye, double it. Ask for engineering plans to see the surveyed slope or finishing levels.”
You also need to consider easements and developer approvals – such as estate covenants and design guidelines.
“These change from estate to estate, so ensure you understand what materials, colours, home designs, there is a lot to understand about each development,” Sam says.
What to look out for with Acreage Land
Does a tree-change appeal to you? Thanks to recent lockdowns, a shift into working from home has made an acreage lifestyle more achievable for many Victorians.
Hot locations for acreages in our region are — Ocean Grove, Torquay and the Golden Plains (Bannockburn, Teesdale, Inverleigh and Lethbridge).
“We’re lucky in our region as you can get great acreage/lifestyle land within 30 minutes of Geelong CBD,” Sam says.
“Acreage is highly sought after and over the past three years has seen a huge increase in demand.
“This absolutely suits growing families, and people who want to spend time outside enjoying their yard space. There’s space for cubby houses, animals, sheds and workshops.
“Tradies often are very keen as the large shed often saves them money on storage and yard spaces for their businesses.”
However despite the many positives, there’s a lot to consider when seeking acreage land.
“It’s important to understand and look at the building envelopes, setbacks from fences, proximity to amenities, zoning and what type of future development is in place,” Sam says.
“Most acreage-style blocks may not have sewer connections so it’s important to understand if a septic system is needed. Often gas isn’t available and gas bottles or all electricity will be needed.
“Often there may be design guidelines if it’s a small development from 10-20 allotments, this can be a positive as it ensures other neighbours will be following quality and design restrictions that guard the overall streetscape.”
When it comes to electricity on an acreage, you need to consider whether the block has power at the front of the home as there are significant costs to running power underground.
Other aspects to consider are Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) and its associated overlays.
What to look out for with a Knockdown/Rebuild
If you live in a more established area but don’t love your house, have you considered a knockdown/rebuild?
A knockdown rebuild can be more cost effective than a renovation and is a great option if you’re keen on a specific area, such as Belmont, Newcomb, Hamlyn Heights or Herne Hill.
“Geelong Homes specialise in knockdown rebuilds and building in established areas so it’s very important to have the conversation with them early,” Sam says.
“If there is a vacant block with surrounding homes that can be a great option. The key things to be aware of are neighbouring homes and offsets, council and building regulations.
“At first glance it may look great but depending on the neighbour setbacks, orientation and overshadowing a double storey home may not be able to be built so it’s always important to seek advice from a builders rep sales consultant from Geelong Homes to have them inspect it and determine the feasibility of the project.”
Sam recommends gathering any plans for subdivision and engineering if available and showing them to a Geelong Homes new home consultant. Details such as setbacks can be an issue – for example if the home is currently set back at 10m don’t assume you’ll be able to keep this set-back with a new build.
“Often within a 10-minute conversation and information session they can say if it will work or not, if it will be a challenge, the approximate costings and things to look out for,” he says.
“Often expenses pop up such as moving power lines underground, extra drainage needed, retaining walls due to slope and existing fences.”
If you’ve on the lookout for land in an established suburb, Sam says it’s best to start by looking at the surroundings.
“Is it flat? Is there slope? What do the neighbours’ homes and setbacks look like? Is there good access in the street and also around the site? Sites on busy roads or hard to access can increase complexity and costings.”
And if you feel like your online real estate searches for land are coming up nil, Sam says contact estate agents like himself.
“We often have sellers, vendors, clients that may have a great location site but don’t have it on the market but would consider selling,” he says.
Now is the prime time to be building a new house, and one of the first steps you need to make is buying your land.
At Geelong Homes we can support clients through this by providing advice and guidance or by directing you to a land agent who can help you find the right block for the home and lifestyle you want.
One of those land agents is Sam Parsons, the director of real estate agency Avenue Five.
He offers this advice when considering different types of blocks for your new home:
- Do your research and speak to an expert, either a Geelong Homes new home consultant or real estate agent, before you start so you can understand the process and additional costs of building on different types of land.
- Keep an open mind to a variety of different locations for land, taking into consideration your overall budget.
- For greenfield estates, consider block size, orientation, slope, easements and developer approvals such as design guidelines. Greenfield estates can be found in Armstrong Creek, Mt Duneed, Fyansford, Leopold and Lovely Banks through to the Surf Coast areas in towns such as Torquay, Ocean Grove and Point Lonsdale. Then there’s the Golden Plains with Bannockburn and across to Winchelsea, Colac and Ballarat.
- For acreage land, building envelopes, setbacks, sewer, gas and electricity connections and BAL and associated overlays. Hot locations for acreages in our region are — Ocean Grove, Torquay and the Golden Plains (Bannockburn, Teesdale, Inverleigh and Lethbridge).
- For a knockdown/rebuild, gather any engineering or subdivision plans available. The key things to be aware of are neighbouring homes and offsets, setbacks, and council and building regulations. Popular areas for knockdown/rebuilds are Belmont, Newcomb, Hamlyn Heights or Herne Hill.