What is a serviced plot?
It’s exactly what it sounds like — a plot that’s ready to build on. That means it already has the utility connections – water, gas, electricity and mains sewage, high-speed broadband and telephone – as well as access from the highway. So all the infrastructure you need to start building your home is already in place.
I’ve heard about custom build sites — are they the same?
Self build means self-procurement, where you organised the build yourself. With a custom build, you work with a developer who creates the house for you.
This can vary from a company that will design and build the shell, with you then fitting it out yourself, to the complete turnkey package where you’re handed the keys at the end. However, that’s more about the building solution as opposed to the site itself; a serviced plot could be built on using either route.
Who are serviced plots aimed at?
They’re ideal for anyone who wants to be able to build their own individually designed home. In any one year, there’s around a million people who would like to do that if they could only find the plot, which tends to be the main obstacle.
There are only so many infill plots and there are only so many old houses that need replacing. To meet the demand we expect there to be for custom self build – perhaps 30-50,000 houses each year – there wouldn’t be enough traditional building plots, so the only way to do it is to subdivide larger sites into individual plots and make them build-able.
Who offers serviced plots?
Currently there are between 1,500 and 2,000 serviced plot opportunities across Ghana, but I think that will grow significantly. They are usually listed through local estate agents, but some might be available from major house builders, or increasingly through local authorities. The biggest example is Kasoa nearly 300 serviced plots with a view to creating about 1,900 plots overall — a self-build village.
Where are serviced plots?
Typically they will be in areas where land is available, so there won’t be many in the middle of urban centers. However, in towns and villages, and their outskirts, there will be larger sites that might not have been accessible to the lone self builder but could be subdivided into individual plots.
Do the sites come with full planning permission?
They will already have at least outline planning and most likely detailed planning permission. Probably a condition of buying a plot will be that there are some parameters that you will have to work within, so you won’t have complete freedom. You have to make sure that the planning conditions attached to the design on that site allow you the level of freedom that you would like. Quite often there will be an imaginary box within which you can create anything you want, subject to using an approved palette of building materials.
Do serviced plots cost more?
It can be difficult and costly to bring in utilities and access to a one-off plot, sometimes as much as the land again, because serviced plots will usually cost slightly more than conventional plots as you’re also paying for the infrastructure. However, that will be spread across a larger site, so those costs can be mitigated.
Can I manage the build myself or do I have to use a particular company?
That varies according to the land ownership. You’ll get some landowners creating serviced plots who will just want to sell them on and let you move from there within the planning system. There will be others where they’re looking for a particularly strict design code, and they’ll want to control the quality of the houses that are being built. So you might find that you have to work with a designer and builders that are attached to the site.
Do serviced plots make self building easier?
A lot of people like the idea of self building, but think it’s too complicated. This means that buying a serviced plot where you’ve got the certainty of knowing that everything you need to build the house is already in place is going to appeal to many people.
In addition, some serviced plots will also come with the house built to at least foundations stage, as in order for the landowner to recover VAT they often need to have started the house. Whilst this won’t limit your design choices, it is another area of uncertainty that has been resolved for you.