Pitfalls: Buying a plot and building timber house

Have you bought 'off-plan' and having problems?
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Pitfalls: Buying a plot and building timber house

Post by Adam »

Hello All,

I am currently considering buying a plot and building a timber house (probably 3b bungalow) on it. The plot owner and timber house developer are not the same, and not even linked to my knowledge. My main motivation for doing what is admittedly the most bureaucratically complex way of getting a home is cost and time. I intend to buy the plot first with cash and then finance the construction with a relatively small loan. Fortunately I have enough money to do so, and would like to minimize debt as much as possible. Also, construction time for wooden homes is to my understanding much faster than concrete construction. I am also fortunate to have a solicitor friend and a surveyor friend who are both Cypriots and who will advise me as I go along. The wooden house developer comes recommended for professionalism and honesty.

Having followed Nigel's articles, I am well aware that purchasing and constructing here in the ROC is a bit of a minefield. While I know of the general problems concerning title deeds in the ROC, I am a first-time buyer and want to be extra careful which is why I have enlisted help.

As it never hurts to wear suspenders and a belt (so I'm told), I would like to ask the forum for your thoughts regarding the potential pitfalls of acquiring a home in this manner.

Thanks in advance.
Nigel Howarth
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Re: Pitfalls: Buying a plot and building timber house

Post by Nigel Howarth »

Hello Adam & welcome to the forum.

I did what you are planning - I bought a plot of land in 1992 and then built when we moved to Cyprus in 2002.

You need to ensure that you can build on the plot of land you're planning to buy. Although may be able to get an 'off the record' thumbs up/down (as the case may be) from the planning office, you will not get a final decision until until the planning and building permits have been issued.

Getting the deeds for the land is the vital thing, once you have that deed anything you build on the land will be yours. (It took us 4 years to get the deeds because the owner of the adjacent field claimed that 5 metres of our land - and everyone else's land that abutted his field - was his. The court decided in our favour I'm pleased to say.)

The bureaucracy was no problem - our architect handled getting all the permits, etc. He also oversaw the construction work.

It sounds as if you've found a decent developer. That's good because in the early days when we started to build every man and his dog were building timber homes with varied degrees of success.

A couple of things we did that we did may be useful to you:

1. With the exception of the the light fittings and electrical sockets and cabinets in the bathrooms, we sourced all the other fixtures and finishes including the floors, internal wooden doors, lighting, kitchen and bathroom suites ourselves - and got a price from our main contractor to fit them.

2. We subcontracted the mechanical engineering - solar water heating, underfloor heating system from a specialist company. (Our contractor used the same company to carry out all of the plumbing work).

We've been in the house for 12 years with no major problems. We had the entire house redecorated earlier this year and will be replacing a couple of taps in the kitchen and utility room - and loo seats!.

I found the whole process of 'self-build' very enjoyable. We got on well with our contractor and apart from a few minor problems during the aluminium shutters, which he fixed, it was all plain sailing.

I hope you're planning to stay in Cyprus when your house is built to keep an eye.

Regards & every success.
Nigel Howarth
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Re: Pitfalls: Buying a plot and building timber house

Post by Pantheman »

You don't state whether the plot is in a residential area or agricultural.

If residential, usually won't be a problem if there is an official road access. Although get your surveyor to check.

If it is agricultural, I highly recommend that you only buy the plot once the planning permit has been issued, not on say so's of getting a permit. I had such a situation where we were advised we will get the permit, up until the last moment the planning officer told us to come pick it up, but when it went to his boss for sign off, it was rejected.

The planning department have instructions from Nicosia planning authority not to issue planning permits on agricultural land easy unless some conditions are met and even then as they do not want to develop agricultural plots so be very careful.

I think you and Nigel have most of the other things covered.

Good luck.
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