Serviced Plots: What Are the Benefits?

Find out how serviced plots are helping budding self builders to realise their dream homes by removing the stress from the plot finding process
Chris Bates, Editor of Build It magazine
by Chris Batesmith
14th June 2023

Serviced plots can for many, make the dream of self building their perfect home a more achievable reality, as tracking down a viable plot has long been seen as one of the biggest challenges to creating a bespoke home. Indeed, it sits third in the list of potential self builders’ concerns, behind only arranging finance and gaining planning permission (in that order).

Plot finding, however, may no longer be the stumbling block it once was thanks to the introduction of serviced plots country-wide. Backed by government support such as the Right to Build, we are now seeing a big trend towards custom build models that aim to simplify the path to creating a bespoke home – and one route that’s really taking off is the provision of build-ready serviced plots.

So, how does this route work and what are the advantages to building on a serviced plot?

What Are Serviced Plots?

A serviced plot is pretty much what it says on the tin. They are plots of land where the key infrastructure, namely utility connections (gas, electricity, water etc) and access from the highway, are taken care of by an enabling developer. The enabler could be a landowner, council or specialist provider – such as a package home company.

Understanding the cost of utilities before you buy can be tricky for individual self builders (not to mention time-consuming to arrange), so the serviced plot route gives you more visibility and certainty over what you’ll ultimately pay.

Oakwrights serviced plots

Winner of Best Custom Build Project or Model in the 2022 Build It Awards, Webbs Meadow is a serviced plot development offering 13 individual sites (all sold and either complete or in construction). A partnership between the landowner Kinsey Hern and Oakwrights, the result is a stunning community that fits seamlessly into the local area. All the houses were individually designed for the homeowners, who had a choice of building routes

The serviced plot or plots might be an individual self build site, part of a small cluster of houses or even on a larger estate of dozens or hundreds of home building opportunities. Crucially, outline or detailed planning consent will already be in the bag, too, so you know the land can definitely be developed.

All of that means you can be confident that you’re buying a viable, shovel-ready site – and one where you can see upfront whether it’s likely to be able to support the kind of home you really want. So, the serviced plot route takes a lot of the risk and headache out of finding land with genuine potential to accommodate your dream home.

Explore Build It’s Company and Product Directory: Custom Build & Land Finding

How Much Do Serviced Plots Cost?

You will pay more up front for a serviced plot versus an equivalent blank site without utilities, access and planning pre-agreed – as you’re essentially paying the premium for someone to do these works for you. But while there might be a small extra to pay for the landowner or developer sorting those elements out, you gain a lot in terms of cost certainty.

Buying a serviced plot avoids the common risk of unexpected price hikes for completing these enabling works post-purchase. From there, ultimately the cost of your new home will come down to factors such as the project route, house design and quality of materials and finishes you want. For example, will you choose an oak frame? Which type of exterior cladding material do you want to use, and how much of a priority will your landscaping design be?

Learn More: 10 Ways to Maximise Your Self Build Budget

How Does Planning Permission on Serviced Plots Influence the Design Options?

While serviced plots do already have planning permission in place, you’re not always obliged to build out the existing plans. In many cases, you’re at liberty to apply for a completely new house design or go back to the planners to tweak the existing scheme. In others, the core design is fixed but you gain control over the internal layout, fit-out and, possibly, external finishes. So, there’s plenty of choice and flexibility, and you can absolutely achieve an individually-designed home with this route.

On many sites, a loose design code will have been agreed with the council. Pioneered by Graven Hill in Oxfordshire (the UK’s largest self and custom build opportunity), design codes are a great innovation as you know in advance what you have to play with in terms of the size and scale of the house, permitted materials and other key details.

This makes life much easier for you and your designer, as you don’t have to second guess what the planners will and won’t allow. It can also be used to protect the interests of the landowner, who might want a bit of say over how the site is developed.

Read More: Planning Applications: What Do Council Planners Want?

Who Sells Serviced Plots?

You can find shovel-ready sites via any of the standard land-finding routes. These include dedicated resources such as Build It’s (The UK’s best and 100% free building plot and property finder for self build and conversion projects), through estate agents and via word of mouth.

In addition, a number of local authorities are now taking a more proactive approach to self build, sharing serviced plots for sale on their websites. Graven Hill is probably the most well-known council-enabled scheme in the UK, and home to Build It’s very own real-life Self Build Education House.

CLOSER LOOK Build It’s Self Build Education House

The Build It House can be found in Graven Hill, Oxfordshire, and is a pioneering real-life self build designed as an educational tool that will give you a unique insight into the process of creating your own bespoke home.

Designed by Lapd Architects and project managed by Build It’s Editor, Chris Bates, The Build It House is an educational hub that showcases the design options and practical choices available to self builders.

Build It Education House

To read about the full journey from planning to self build success and to arrange a visit to our Education House, click the button below!

Read more

More and more specialist companies are branching out into enabling and marketing this kind of site – typically as a plot and build package. So, it’s worth getting in touch to see if they’re working on any projects in your area.

Examples include Border OakOakwrights, Potton and Quinn Estates. And Build It is pleased to see that the likes of Steenvlinder – whose experienced team has a track record of success with serviced plot and custom build developments in the Netherlands – are now starting to bring their know-how to the UK market.

Steenvlinder serviced plots

Steenvlinder’s first UK project, Orchard Farm in Kent, is due to open for plot sales this summer. It will offer self build serviced plot opportunities for aspiring homeowners from a range of backgrounds, from first-time buyers through to retirees

What Are Plot & Build Packages?

This kind of serviced plot comes with a home building company already attached, who can offer a design and construction service alongside the purchase of your plot. So, you’ll work with their in-house team or one of their partner architects to finalise your individual home (according to the site-wide design parameters) and then contract them for some or all of the construction phase.

A plot and build package wraps up even more of the project in one easy-to-manage chunk, enabling a smooth and cost-certain journey. Most companies operating in this space focus on modest sites of around five to 20 detached houses, giving you the chance to become part of a small, like-minded community.

Larger dedicated sites of 100+ homes are expected to come online in the near future, too, and some serviced plot opportunities are offered as part of wider speculative developments.

potton serviced plots

Potton has partnered with developer Crest Nicholson for Tadpole Garden Village, a collection of 14 serviced plots (all now reserved) that forms part of a larger 600-home development. Buyers gained access to the Potton package, including cost and budget advice, design service, Building Regulations pack, insulated timber frame structure and a choice of doors, windows, stairs and joinery

Depending on the development, you might have freedom in terms of how you manage the follow-on elements of the work – but there’s typically only one choice of build partner for the house shell. So, you must be satisfied that they’re the right fit to deliver a design you like (it’s worth checking how much customisation is available) and achieve the performance and quality you want.

Routes such as self-finish (where you might have control over room layouts and finishes) and full turnkey delivery (where you agree a bespoke design, spec and price and let the specialist deliver it all for you) are also becoming more commonplace for plot and build packages.

See More: 11 of the Best Turnkey Self Build Homes


  1. Patricia Humphries says:

    Please can you tell me how best to approach the Council to ask about planning.

    I have inherited some, mostly agricultural land, about 12 acres, that has not been farmed since 2015.

    I would like to find out if I could sell some to other people for self build in order to provide some finance for building for myself and family to live – or sell when built.

    My Grandson is a small builder and has access to other trades people that have worked for him on his previous, much smaller projects.

    If building is a possibility I would also be willing to include something for the community but I don’t have very much in the way of financial backing.

    I need to talk to planning officers and would like some advice about how to present any options I might have, in the best way.

    I hope you can help. Thank you

  2. Sofia Delgado says:

    Hi Patricia,

    We had a very similar question recently on our Q&A section, where you can find some useful advice about companies that could be able to help you with planning.

    I have passed on this question to our planning expert, who should be able to advice on the first step to take. I will post his answer as soon as I hear back.

    I encourage you to sign up to your council’s Right to Build register, as this could improve chances of gaining permission. I also suggest you get in touch with the team at Custom Build Homes who have experience working with councils in these type of ventures – you can see some of their projects on our directory.

    Best wishes,

    Sofia Delgado, Build It’s digital assistant editor

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