The downfalls of buying land to build on

There are a number of things you need to take into account when buying land to build on. Sure the land may look perfect, and perhaps your budget will allow you to put whatever you want on it, but don’t just blunder into a sale without doing your research first.

It's a bumpy ride when you're looking to buy land to build on

Finding the ideal plot is just the start of the process, as you then need to begin assessing its suitability for your intended project. Your development needs to be economically viable, no matter how much you have spare to throw at it, so take all of the necessary legal and financial assessment steps before committing to buy. Owning a plot of land can open up a number of legal implications that can, in turn, cause an extra drain on your time and financial resources.

Absent Deeds

Absent deeds are a common problem with land sales, and occur when the deeds for the plot of land you are trying to buy cannot be located. Though it might be clear who owns what land and where, without deeds it is impossible to prove anything and complications can arise. To solve this, you may need to obtain a Statutory Declaration from the vendors, as well as from any other associated parties or owners of neighbouring land that might be affected. You will then be able to get a Defective Title Indemnity Policy, a type of property development insurance, to cover you against unforeseen complications down the line.

Gaining title over land

You might be gaining title over land that you do not actually own when you make your purchase (referred to as "adverse possession" in England and Wales, and "prescription" in Scotland). It can be difficult to establish if this is the case and could delay your purchase, occasionally resulting in the plot being offered with a "Possessor Title", rather than an "Absolute Title". If you are considering making this purchase, then you will also need to think about taking out indemnity cover in case a dispute of ownership later emerges.

Rights of way

Public access or "rights of way" will need to be considered when you are considering a land purchase. Firstly, you will need to make sure you can access your plot from the nearest public highway with vehicles. Whether this is by a direct means or by a private driveway, you will want to make sure a note of this appears in the deeds. If the ownership of access remains unclear, you should protect yourself with indemnity insurance against later disputes, but in some cases the "20 year rule" may apply (where a site has enjoyed uninterrupted public access for 20 years or more and this can be proved, the legal right can be established).


You need to make sure you have sufficient property development insurance in place throughout the build process, as well as any indemnity insurances you take out to protect your right to the land. Home repair insurance or house renovation insurance will be needed if you are refurbishing an existing property, but you may need to seek it from a specialist home insurance provider. You can obtain an online quote for Renovation insurance with HomeProtect, no matter what your circumstances or at what stage of development you might be at. With homeprotect you can obtain competitive renovation insurance cover for any self build project, providing the property will be on fixed foundations and inside the UK when it's finished.

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