Networking; family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, pubs, clubs, societies … Use BADSBA – bring your ideas to the monthly meetings and swap site finding by email.
Contact; estate agents, local authorities, auction houses (always get the legal pack and visit the property – and be aware that the auctioneer has no responsibility for any errors), ecclesiastical bodies (including Church of England, Catholic Church, Methodist Union, Baptist Church), architects, architectural technologists, developers, builders & builders merchants, self-build package companies for local customer contacts, businesses closing down, bankruptcies, local press, university estates departments, utility companies, Railtrack, Ministry of Defence, Forestry Commission, planning consultants, land owners, certain self-build package companies, etc. Locate them on the Internet, or in your public library.
Advertise; shops & post offices, leafleting prospective areas (check the Local Plan for development boundaries first), local markets, local newspapers, Trade It, Farmers Weekly, Agricultural Trader, Estates Gazette, Church Times, Methodist times, Country Landowner, Property Week, Country Life…
Internet; Plotfinder, Plotsearch, auctions, estate agents, self builders contact groups, your employer’s e-bulletin board, …
Looking; walking / driving around. Check through planning applications. Check the local plan. Look for large gardens, derelict buildings or buildings of low value to pull down & replace. Consider the different types of plot – Greenfield, brownfield, infill, backfill. Consider access for the build as well as the permanent access to the highway with council requirements for visibility, parking & turning. Avoid Green Belt and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty unless you are prepared for an expensive and protracted struggle, which may or may not result in planning permission. Maybe an earth-sheltered design will succeed where other designs fail – you could be the first to find out. Avoid buying any land without planning permission unless you are prepared for a gamble; at least check with the local authority before purchasing.
Prioritise; don’t design your ideal house first, then look for a plot to fit, plots are too scarce. Find the plot, then design a house for that plot. If the plot comes with detailed planning permission already, you may be able to vary it to suit yourself, for example by building a 1.5 storey house rather than a bungalow.
Join BADSBA; members are given masses of essential information including several pages of detailed plot finding methods, dozens of websites just about plot finding (and thousands of other useful websites too) and a 3-page checklist for evaluating any plots you find.