Highland Architect Murray Fleming’s top 5 tips is you are plotting a dream move to the country

5 top tips if you are plotting your dream move to the country

Bell Ingram Design Architect Murray Fleming shares his 5 top tips for things to consider when plot hunting:

Readers of a certain vintage will remember 1970s’ sitcom The Good Life which chronicled the adventures of Tom (Richard Briars) and Barbara (Felicity Kendal) Good as they embraced a life of self-sufficiency in their home in Surbiton.

And this desire to create a ‘good life’ has been one of the enduring property trends of the last 50 years with the current pandemic only increasing the demand for house plots as many people reassess their priorities in favour of building a better quality of life in the countryside.

So, if you are thinking of swapping city living for the rural idyll, Bell Ingram Design Architect Murray Fleming shares his 5 top tips for things to consider when plot hunting:

  1. Where is the sun?

One of the great benefits of designing a new house on your own plot of ground is the opportunity to take advantage of the sun as it moves through the day and to simply enjoy the pleasures of a light filled house. Whether it be the morning sun in the kitchen or a view of the setting sun from the living room, good house design begins with designing around the sun ‘path’.

However it is not a simple as north facing site = bad and south facing = good, it is much more a matter of the surrounding topography and how that affects how the sun reaches the site. A north facing site may actually benefit from sun throughout the day if there are no obstructions and a south facing site may not see any sun if its path is obstructed by trees or a large hill immediate to the south.

Try and visit the site at different times of the day to find out when the sun first hits the plot and when it dips below the horizon at the end of the day. Then, taking account of the time of year, an assessment can be made of how this will vary during the year, as the sun path from winter to summer varies enormously at our northern latitudes.

  1. Where are the utilities?

Not so glamourous, however as many sites in the countryside are sold with no utilities, an assessment of the cost of bringing in water and electricity, and dealing with sewage is crucial to understanding the ‘real’ cost of the project.

A site that seems like a good buy at first can quickly become a money pit if the cost of running in each of the utilities is exceptional due to long distances for water/electricity, or poor ground conditions for a sewage system soakaway. Watch out too if no water supply is available and the only option is an expensive and uncertain water ‘borehole’.

  1. Where are the underground services?

While bringing services a long way into a site can be expensive, dealing with services already on site, but which are in the ‘wrong’ place, can be equally problematic, whether it be a water main running across the plot (which can be the case even in an apparently remote location) or overhead electricity or BT lines.

There are several companies that can supply this information for a fee, however local knowledge is equally invaluable, and a short chat with a long-time neighbour of the site could save you thousands!

  1. Where are there planning conditions?

Most house sites will be sold with either ‘Planning in Principle’ or full ‘Detail Approval’ and both are likely to have ‘conditions’ attached which you will be required to comply with. These can vary from a requirement to carry out protected species surveys to archaeological ‘watching briefs’ or simply forming a new vehicular entrance from the public road to meet the current local council standards.

While many conditions may have no cost implications, the above examples could prove expensive and so making a careful assessment of the potential costs and indeed risks of any planning conditions is an essential part of plot assessment.

  1. Where is the love?

Buying a plot of land and designing our own house is a dream for many of us, and it’s not as complicated as it might first appear! But, before you make that life changing purchase, ask yourself: “Do I love this site? For better, for worse? For richer for poorer? ‘Til de … well hopefully not that part!” And if the answer is YES!, come and speak to us at Bell Ingram Design and we can help make your dream come true.

Start planning your dream home by checking out the plots for sale on our website www.bellingram.co.uk or contacting Murray Fleming by ringing our Beauly office.

Our people

Murray Fleming

Murray Fleming

Senior Associate
Tel: 01463 717 799

About: As Senior Architect based in Bell Ingram’s Beauly office, Murray is responsible for the company's architectural services covering the Highlands and Islands. He has extensive design and project management experience in a wide range of building sectors, including residential, commercial, public and healthcare. Interests: Full architectural design service, Planning advice & submissions, Feasibility studies, Condition surveys, Building warrant advice & submissions, Administration of construction contracts.

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    Article posted on 01/11/2021