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What to pay attention to when buying land

Before deciding to buy a property, here are some aspects to keep in mind to check. These may temporarily complicate the purchase of the land, but they will surely relieve you of any unpleasant surprises later on.

Location

Make sure that the land you want to purchase is located within city limits, so you can build on it. You can find this information at the City Hall, within a Urbanism Certificate. You can also build on a land that's outside the urban area, but you need to make a request for it to pass into the city limits. Watch out, it will be a costly operation and it will take a while.

Another aspect that we recommend you keep in mind, is that the land should not be too close to intensely circulated streets. Apart from the noise created, there will also be the dust problem. A remote location would reduce both initial purchase costs and sources of pollution, noise or of another nature.

An ideal lot would be located some 200-300m away from the main transit artery. This avoids both noise and dust and the rest of the inconveniences.

The size and shape of the lot

In Romania, a plot of land less than 200 square meters is too small to be able to obtain a Construction Authorisation for it; you will only be allowed to reinforce an existing building, if you decide to purchase a lot of this size.

It's not to be neglected that you need to maintain a certain distance from the neighbouring buildings. You need a width of at least 12 sqm to build the house. For a smaller width you will have to build the house with a wall on the border - you have to take into account the fact that the walls also occupy ground. You can place your house on the border, but only if you have the neighbour's notary agreement.

The smaller the lot (you also have to keep in mind all the property limitations), the more constrained you will be to build your house in a certain position: you must leave 2 m away from your neighbours on the sides you have windows on, and 90 cm on sides that do not have windows.

It is important to note that regardless of the surface, the shape also counts. A land with equal sides is more practical and a house in the same format will be more economical. Thus, take into account the correlation between the form of the land and the house. On large areas of land consider costs and maintenance time, and when it comes to smaller surfaces, consider the problem of cramped auxiliary spaces.

As a practical example, a land with a minimum opening of 20 m and an area of ​​1,000 square meters is almost perfect for most clients.

Geotechnical study

A very good price should not be the only reason to buy a plot of land, it's very important for it to have real estate value, to capitalise on later in time. It's advisable to study the land, the ground, flood maps and request a geotechnical study: it's a very simple procedure that costs insignificantly but it offers you the soil configuration, all the way to the depth that interests you.

The procedure will show you exactly if the soil is stable - so you can avoid the flooded areas. This should be the basis for the foundation of the house as well. Without this study, there is a risk that both the architect and the constructor oversize the reinforcements, beams, plates, and so on, to ensure the quality of the construction. Hence, sometimes the additional cost of works exceeds the cost of a geotechnical study several times.

If the legal obligation is not enough of a motivation for you (considering the geotechnical study is also necessary for obtaining the building permit), take into account the fact that you can easily intervene on the roof, walls or pillars in case of need, while interventions on the foundation are hard and expensive once the construction has finished.

Utilities

You will definitely want to bring utilities into your house: electricity, running water, gas and internet. Do you have easy access to them near to the plot of land you decided to buy? If not, you need to know that the total value of the investment will increase a lot.

As far as utilities are concerned, check everything that means access route and take the options for each situation into account. Is the access road with asphalt or not? Is there a direct electrical connection? Check how far are the utilities from your house - natural gas, water, sewage, internet, cable TV - then estimate the costs of what you need. You do not want to have the surprise of paying some huge costs for branching if they are not in the immediate vicinity of the land.

If the lot is located between houses that already have utilities, you got some worries of your mind. And if the land you want is in an unconstructed area, but you have other neighbours around that build, here's the good news: you can split the costs of hooking up to the public network.

PS. Don't forget to check any legal disputes related to the land in question. You may have problems later, if you buy land that is still undecided by heirs or even mortgaged land. You can check these details in the land registry.

Good luck!

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