Expert Insights

Expert Insights

Plot purchase and new construction: Why it shouldn’t be as expensive or complicated as you think

Have you dreamt of building your own house on the perfect plot of land but dismissed the idea on the basis that it will be much too expensive, an inordinate amount of hassle and extremely complicated?  If so, think again!

A plot purchase and a new construction needn’t be as expensive or complicated as you may think, and indeed there are many upsides to taking this route rather than holding out trying to find the perfect house, in the perfect location, which has already been built by somebody else.

There are a number of ways to go about this:

(a) find an empty plot, buy it and apply for planning permission and if obtained, build

(b) find a plot, enter into an option agreement to purchase it, whilst you obtain the planning you need. If you get planning build it and if not walk away

(c) find a plot with existing planning permission, buy it, and build the house; or find a plot with a partially built house and then purchase the land and building (as built) and work with the developer/builder to finish off the house to your specification There can be a number of possible advantages to proceeding in any of these ways:

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

  • The SDLT may be payable in relation to the value of the land you buy (assuming the plot is vacant) and is therefore likely to represent a significant saving
  • Assuming a house is partially built on the plot, then there is likely to be a reduced value being the total of the value of the plot and the value of the house as constructed
  • There should not be additional SDLT (the additional 3% that came into force on 1 April 2016 in respect of second homes) on land that does not have a dwelling built on it


  • You may be able to apply for a VAT refund on building materials and services if you are building a new home or converting a property into a home (subject to the materials qualifying and an application being made to HMRC within three months of completing the work).

Perhaps the most important and practical point is that you get to build your own house, to your own design, specification, layout and orientation, to suit your needs and which will last many generations.

Recently we acted for clients in relation to the purchase of a property which had been partially constructed by the developer. The developer was keen to extract their value from the site as early as possible, and was prepared to work with our clients to finish the home to their specification and layout.

Our clients had the benefit of being able to purchase the land and property as constructed at the date of completion and paying SDLT on the value at that stage (rather than the value of the property once completed). They also had the opportunity to choose certain aspects of the build to their own requirements. We also provided extensive construction law advice in relation to the contract with the developer.

Top tips

  • Take specialist advice - Take specialist advice early on - you may save time, trouble and money
  • Widen your search - Widen your search to consider not just empty plots of land but also partially constructed sites
  • Be realistic - Be realistic about your budget and time scales but don’t give up on the dream too easily

This article first appeared in Ionger form in Surrey Life November 2016 edition.

This article was written by William Marriott. For more information, please contact William on +44 1483 252519 or

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