Planning on buying land to build your new home?  Read on and learn how to avoid a couple of costly mistakes.

Buying land and building your own home can be exciting and fun, but there are things that can trap the inexperienced and turn happy faces to sad.

It goes without saying that all houses require strong foundations. Soil type and land contour varies dramatically, particularly in the Bay of Plenty. It is critical that the land you are intending to buy has a suitable building platform and you are aware of any additional requirements that may be imposed before the local council will issue you a building consent.

Consent notices are documents that are registered on land titles and which record conditions that the council imposes on the land.  These are commonly issued at the time the land is subdivided into lots. A common consent notice is one which says that further soil tests are required and a report by a suitably qualified engineer on the building platform is required as a condition of granting a building consent. It may also go further and say that the foundations must be designed by a qualified engineer. This will add to the cost of your new home.

Another issue to be aware of is that some councils refuse to issue building consents where the land is or may have been contaminated. The Ministry for the Environment has created a list of such land parcels, referred to as "HAIL" ("Hazardous Activities and Industries List"). The list contains a number of uses on the land which the ministry says is likely to cause land contamination resulting from hazardous substance use, storage or disposal. This list is particularly relevant for residential sections in the Bay of Plenty where the land was formerly an orchard. 

Where soil tests show that land is contaminated, top soil often needs to be removed and disposed of, and the site level is then built back up.  This can add considerable cost to a building project.

If you're undertaking a building project and require further information or advice, contact Hamish Murray on 07 578 2149 or

Written by Hamish Murray at 09:00




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