Build diary 4 – we got the land!

So we’ve taken the plunge and signed the contract to rent some empty land for 25 years! Yay! Next up, we wanted to see what the land actually looked like because it was so overgrown we hadn’t been able to explore it. From the location and the angle of the land, we presumed it had once been a rice field which had fallen into disrepair and become overgrown. Like the tangled jungle of thorns that protected Sleeping Beauty, it almost impossible to go through onto the land and explore it.


The only way to glimpse the land was to climb a neighbouring wall and peek down upon the jungle. Although being so overgrown was a little annoying, it also benefitted us as a recently used rice field would need to be left to try out for months before our foundations can be laid, whereas our land can be built on immediately.

Buying land in Bali. From the front, it was impossible to see what the land actually looked like.

From the front, it was impossible to see what the land actually looks like.

Fortunately, we have a Bali Interiors drone, so we sent it up to have a look see.  Our overgrown land is in the centre, with the main road to the right. Access to a public road when building is important as it means you can easily bring in all the construction materials. We’ve heard lots of stories of people who took land only to find out they had no road access and their neighbours either wouldn’t allow them access to the road, or wanted to charge them an enormous amount of money for the access.


Above and below our land, you can see a completed villa and one that is being built (and will be completed before ours). We’re happy to have finished villas on 2 sides as it means we won’t have to suffer through the noise and inconvenience of construction. Coming from Canggu, it seems inevitable that the lovely rice fields that surround you initially will soon be built on. In our current home, we’ve had construction around us for the last 2 years! As soon as one finishes, the next one starts! When we moved in, we only had one building next to us. The other 3 sides were gorgeous rice fields. Sadly, they have slowly disappeared.


We chose to build right next to a “green belt” where the land has (theoretically) been protected, so we are hoping that land will remain untouched for many years to come. Sadly, green zones are not always enforced. In fact, just up the road from our current home is a lovely green belt. Over the last year, one, then another, and another illegal building (villas, warungs, restaurants and cafes etc) have sprung up. Perhaps, more importantly, I noticed that the green zone land that borders our land is lower than ours and looks like it may flood in the rainy season, so I don’t think it would be a desirable place to build. Fingers crossed, it stays green!

Buying land in Bali. Our land!

Our land!

Buying land in Bali. A bird's eye eye of our current home in Bali. Our villa is in the middle with newly constructed villas surrounding us.

A bird’s eye view of our current home in Canggu. Our villa is in the middle with newly constructed villas surrounding us.

Buying land in Bali. The good old days! My daughter looks out from our front steps onto our neighbouring rice field.

The good old days! My daughter looks out from our front steps onto our neighbouring rice field. That rice field is now a villa complex. 

Applying for a building permit is a long and complicated process. Like most foreigners, we were not familiar with Indonesian or Balinese laws, building code or construction requirements. So, we found a highly recommended consultant who is guiding us through the labyrinth.  There are a lot of consultants out there, but we wanted to do things by the book, so we asked some friends who have built a lot of homes and businesses in Bali, and were given a great recommendation. Our new consultant, Lily, has clearly outlined the multitude of steps involved and we’ve been collecting the documents we need in the right order. It’s a long and complicated process but I feel a lot more confident having Lily to guide us.


We’ve started the process by having the land surveyed so we can see the exact size. We’ve subdivided 800 square metres of a larger piece of land that is nearly 2000 square metre, so we hired a surveyor to measure the borders of the land, do a topographical study and take soil samples. This stage was surprisingly easy as we simply hired the surveyor ourselves.

Buying land in Bali
Buying land in Bali. The surveying crew hack their way in to take soil samples.

The surveying crew hack their way in to take soil samples.

The last few weeks have resulted in……not much! We’ve been waiting to collect documents from government offices that have been closed for national holidays. Bali is a Hindu island, but the provincial government also follows national holidays which include Muslim celebrations. It would have been nice to keep the project momentum rolling along, but living in Bali means adjusting to a different way of life.




  1. Christina Skaggs October 5, 2019

    This is a very interesting journey you’ve taken us on. I live on the wet Hilo side of the Big Island of Hawai’i and I know that jungle well. We bought an unfinished house and it it’s been a work in progress for the last thirty years but just this month it was featured in Modern Luxury Hawai’i magazine along with an article about my work which is painting. I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from SE Asia and I love your magazine. May the force be with you!

    1. baliinteriors October 6, 2019

      Hi Christina, congrats on finishing your home and having it featured in! I just looked it up and I love what you have done! Although I haven’t been there yet (I’m super keen to go!), I think there are a lot of similarities between our islands. So many amazing places I want to visit in the world!


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