Meet Edward Plumb who definitely has not lost the plot!

Written by Edward Plumb.

William Shakespeare wrote in the Tempest; “I would give a thousand furlongs of sea for an acre of barren ground.”

This is taken slightly out of context but the fact is that man seems to have this deep-set desire to own land, to stand on his (or her) property and be master of his kingdom, even if it is a 4m square patch of grass enclosed by tall wooden fence. 

It is very rare that a week goes by when we don’t get an enquiry from someone asking if we can give our thoughts on the value of a little parcel of land which said person is either buying or selling as a garden extension.

The first thing to point out before we get into the depths of valuation and such like, is that you need planning permission to change land from agricultural use to domestic use. The planners are keen to avoid large tracts of countryside being filled with ornamental ponds surrounded by families of gnomes and their extended family who enjoy fishing from toadstools.

The matter becomes rather grey when the garden extension is just grassed over and enclosed with a hedgerow or rustic fence. The logical way to consider whether you need consent for change of use is that if it looks like a garden, then it needs change of use.

Small extensions to gardens are often approved with only limited resistance from the authorities; however attempts more in keeping with the style of Capability Brown or the renaissance period tend to attract more attention. Suitable advice as to what permissions you need before you start work should be sought. Turning back to the issue of value and the “so what do you reckon this might be worth” question. Well, there is no great science to valuing garden extensions because really, like all value, it comes down to what the purchaser is willing to pay and what the vendor will take. Of course, a number of factors will affect the value; who approaches whom is important, so if a farmer approached a householder offering to sell some land, chances are he is going to be willing to do a sensible deal. However, if a householder approaches a farmer looking for some more land it may be prudent to prepare for a different outcome.

The ratio of house size to garden size is important. A big house with little garden can expect to pay quite a premium to bring the garden up to a size so it can be called “grounds”. But don’t assume that it is only big houses that gain. There are plenty of smaller properties where people are keen to expand their plot.

The crunch in the housing market suggests people are staying put for longer and choosing to extend if possible rather than move.

You can contact Edward at Brown & Co on 01603 629871.

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