Around 13,000 people successfully self build every year, so clearly the plots are out there. However, unlike the normal housing market, individual building plots are not so obvious to find – you have to work that much harder to secure a good one. In some cases, it can take years to find a plot - especially if you're particular about elements such as size and the amount of work you're willing to take on. So be prepared to revise your goals if your search isn't going well. Flexibility, combined with the ability to focus your time and energy on the hunt, will give you the best chance of success. Where can I start? There are many routes to finding a plot - we've picked out some of the biggest in the 'key plot finding routes' panel, right. A common mistake made when plot hunting is searching over too wide an area. If you don't focus your search to a specific and manageable geographic location, don't be surprised if the sheer scale of the task overwhelms you. It's better by far to pick the area you want to be in and then blitz it. Drive or even better walk around your selected towns and villages looking for potential building plots. These could be infill sites, side gardens or disused garage blocks, but all may have potential. What are the main barriers? Plots are relatively scarce in the UK, due partly to an abundance of protected areas compared to other European countries. Currently 90 per cent of land in England can't be built on, though organisations such as the National Custom & Self Build Association are working to secure the release of more sites for self builders. Planning policies restrict most schemes to development boundaries around existing settlements. The government is trying to relax this under its Localism Bill, but building new houses (as opposed to replacement or conversion) in greenfield areas is still difficult. New plots, then, tend to be within these development boundaries. But in high-demand areas the obvious sites have been picked clean by developers. The plots that remain are often brownfield sites – meaning it's land that has been previously developed – and it's here that the most opportunities will lie. How much should I budget? Your plot will be the biggest single purchase you make for your project. In the past, the final value of a self-build house could be roughly split into thirds - one third plot cost, one third build cost and the final third profit. But in areas where plots are rare and prices higher, land may account for more like 50% of the total value of the completed house. Although you will be looking for the perfect plot to go with your perfect house, you need to be realistic about what you can obtain within your budget. The perfect plot, if such a thing even exists, is going to be both elusive and expensive. So, for the vast majority of people some form of compromise must be called for.