Building a new home is an exciting (and potentially expensive) project. So it's important to check the land you intend to build on is suitable before you buy it.

Soil type and land contour can vary dramatically in the Bay of Plenty. The region was once home to many farms and orchards and not all sections are straight-forward to build on.

It is most important to check whether any consent notices exist, and whether the soil is contaminated  before you buy land. Both can dramatically increase the cost of your building project.

What is a consent notice?

Consent notices can be attached to the land title if the local council wishes to impose certain conditions. This is typically done when land is first subdivided.

Common consent notices may require:

  • Further soil tests prior to building
  • A qualified engineer's report on the building platform
  • All building foundations to be designed by a qualified engineer
  • Specific stormwater drainage
  • Restrictions on building too close to a ridge or bank, or on soft ground

Is the land contaminated?

Some councils will refuse to issue building consents where the land is, or may have been, contaminated.

The Ministry for the Environment has compiled a 'HAIL Register' (Hazardous Activities and Industries List) which outlines a number of land uses likely to have caused soil contamination due to hazardous substance use, storage or disposal. This includes many agriculture, horticulture and industrial activities. You can view this register at

You will need to prove your soil isn't contaminated before a building consent will be granted. Check with your local council to see what reports are available or organise your own soil tests. Land developers often do such checks as part of the planning process.

If your land is contaminated, your top soil may need to be removed and disposed of, and the site level built back up - all of which costs money.

Any other factors to consider?

The cost of excavating, retaining and contouring land can be significant so investigate these expenses before you buy. Even if your section is flat, it pays to check how much top soil needs to be removed to build your foundations. Some sections have as little as 20cm before clay is exposed - others will have 50cm or more which will add to your budget.

Do your homework

Thoroughly investigating land before you buy it will save a lot of time and money in the long run.

Once you have a suitable building platform sorted, you can then confidently build the house of your dreams!

Need some help?

If you're buying a section and need further assistance, get in touch with Hamish Murray.


Written by Hamish Murray at 11:00




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