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Plot buying: Options & conditional contracts

This site has consent for three houses, one of which has already been largely built out, but the owner has decided to sell. It could suit the right self builder, keen to create their own home and sell the other two, but costings and any potential planning permission changes will need to be carefully scrutinised – so a conditional contract may be the way forward

W hether you’re buying a plot, a property for conversion or a house that needs substantial renovation or an extension, it’s important to know that you’ll be able to do what you want with the property before you commit to the purchase. Often the main area of uncertainty is whether planning permission will be granted, or if an existing consent can be amended. But any number of other issues might be at play – such as a legal question or something practical that could impede or add cost to your build.

In situations like this, a desirable way forward is to secure the right to buy the property while only being bound to proceed if the issues are resolved to your satisfaction. Options (also known as option contracts) and conditional contracts are the mechanisms most commonly used to deal with such scenarios. So what are they and how can they be used effectively?

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Build It
April 2019

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