Legal Guides

We use plain and simple English to give you an overview of the most common areas of law.

Things to consider before building your own home

Interest in building your own home has never been higher. In 2016, an average of 1,100 people a month opted to pursue the self-build route.

Many of us have an idea of what our dream home would look like, but it isn’t as simple as buying a plot of land and cracking on with the construction.

There’s no doubt that programmes like Grand Designs have helped boost enthusiasm for self-building, but there are a number of potential issues that would be self-builders need to bear in mind when pursuing a project.


An easement is where one section of land (known as the dominant land or tenement) enjoys a certain right over another piece of land (known as the servient land or tenement) which is owned by a different party. A good example here is a water main pipe – an easement may allow the water main servicing one property to pass beneath the land owned by a neighbouring property.

It’s important for self-builders to ensure that the site they are looking to buy benefits from the easements it would need, for example access over neighbouring land if it isn’t already directly accessible from the road. Equally, you will need to make sure that the site is not held back by onerous easements in favour of the owners of neighbouring land.

Right of light

Right of light is a specific type of easement which has grown in prevalence in recent years; it ensures that the dominant tenement can enjoy the natural light which passes over the servient tenement.

Self-builders will need to establish whether their proposed home will in some way impact the natural light of neighbouring buildings and to what degree. Otherwise there is a risk of suffering from a claim from the owners of the neighbouring land.

The covenants

When considering a site, it’s crucial that you check whether the land is subject to any restrictive covenants. These may prohibit owners from pursuing certain works, whether that is alterations to existing buildings or a change of use.

You will need to ensure that your proposed project does not breach any covenants which do exist, or whether there are any ways around the covenants, such as by taking out an indemnity insurance policy.

There are plenty of potential legal issues which could not only dent your chances of building that dream home, but cost you thousands of pounds in the process. That’s why it is vital that you make use of quality, experienced conveyancers who can help you find the perfect plot for your project.

This article was written and contributed by LPL Solicitors, Manchester

DISCLAIMER: This article should not be regarded as constituting legal advice in relation to particular circumstances. This article is merely a general comment on the relevant topic. If specific advice is required in connection with any of the matters covered in this article, please speak to LPL Solicitors directly.

Published on 13th March 2018
(Last updated 10th July 2023)