23 Things to Consider Before Buying Land
Over the years we have worked with many clients on the purchase of land for a new family home and thought we would organise the most common questions and considerations into a useful list that may somehow help you (or your friends). Although it’s just land, dirt, acreage…..eventually it will be a place to called home and will ultimately define what the architect will (or won’t) be able to do on it. Slow down, do your homework and read on…..
Dream: Can you imagine living on this land? Spend some time (an hour or more) sitting and walking around it at different times of day and envision what it would be like living there permanently.
Neighbours: who are the neighbours and what impact may they have on you and your lifestyle (or vice versa). Talk to them to find out if the area has any challenges (traffic, electricity, water pressure etc.)
Location: how will this location work into your lifestyle (school, work, mosque, shopping, and recreation)?
Orientation: where is the sun in the morning (east), afternoon (south) and evening (west). If the house faces the street, how will the sun impact the layout of the house? Can glazing face north where it will receive very little direct sun?
Weather Orientation: Wind in Muscat generally blows from the North-East. Can you imagine opening windows in the winter and feeling this breeze flow through the house?
Views: What is there to look at from your house? How would that affect the layout of the house? Will the views still be there after you finish building?
Access: How will you access this land from the street? If there isn’t a paved road to the plot, when will this be installed?
Budget: The price of the land is separate to the cost of the house. As you develop your overall budget, this has to be factored carefully into it.
Electricity: Determine the location of nearest utility pole, cost of extending overhead service to house site and then underground service from a new pole into the new house. Also consider where the electric meter will need or be required to be positioned. Is this acceptable with respect to the appearance of the house?
Water: Is there adequate pressure in the area? Can you rely totally on a Municipal line? Should the gardens be irrigated with grey-water to reduce this reliance?
Sewage: Is there Municipal sewage connection? If not, when will this be installed because it is likely to cause an inconvenience to the street in front of your house as it is installed?
Telephone/ Internet: Is there adequate coverage?
Renewable Energy Sources: Your house will be around for 50+ years – are you considering environmental solutions to grey water recycling, solar energy production, underground bio-digesters to feed irrigation?
Privacy: How important is this and how will it be controlled (especially if swimming pools are being considered)?
Local Development: What is the likelihood of neighbouring properties being developed into a single family house or a housing development in your lifetime (i.e. housing patterns or development patterns of adjacent areas)? In other words, if you wish to live isolated, what is the likelihood of that remaining?
Survey: What is the ground condition? – We would recommend that you have a geotechnical and topographical survey carried out before purchasing the land. You will want to know exactly where the boundaries are. We have had situations where the ‘expected’ boundary was actually far from the legal boundary and the Municipality had to be engaged to resolve this. Make sure you know where the actual boundaries are located by getting stakes in the ground.
Satellite Images: Google Earth is an excellent (and free) tool to determine the history of the site – was it a wadi that was filled in? How has the area developed?
Flooding: Will it flood? How will heavy rain affect access to the site? Wadi areas should be carefully considered. Even if it is unlikely to flood the Municipality may require you to put in additional flood protection measure that will cost you money
Virgin Soil: If there has been no prior disturbance of soil apart from wadi fill, how long ago did that occur? In one case, our client had to invest considerable extra money to remove the existing soil down to the footing bearing and replace it with clean engineered soil. We would recommend a geotechnical engineer review the soil composition to confirm the suitability of the soil to support the foundation loads from a visual inspection.
Phasing: Is the land big enough to consider building structures in the future as your children get older?
Air Traffic: How will the flight path affect your house? Will this create a disturbance? Are there any limitations set by Civil Aviation regarding the height of any development on the land?
Legal: Check that the ownership documents are less than 5 years old. Older documents should be updated so that the krookie shows any changes to surrounding sites
Parking: What allowances for parking can be made inside and outside your site? Will the neighbouring commercial building be using the front of your site for their own parking?