There’s a lot to like about building your own home. You’re able to customize it to your personal preferences, you’ll pay lower utility bills thanks to the latest energy-efficient systems and materials, and you’ll likely face less maintenance issues than if you moved into an older home.
However, before deciding how many bathrooms your home should have or what hue you want to paint the living room, you’ll need to find somewhere to build your home. It is important to consider the following property concerns to find a lot that suits your needs.
The property’s location will have a major impact on whether or not it’s right for you. First, check to see how the location fits into your daily routine. You should visit the lot at various times of day to make sure it works for you. This will allow you to see how busy the area gets and how long your commute to work or school may last.
Second, consider how the land’s location affects your access to local amenities. A home too close to shopping and recreation could become busy and noisy. However, if you’re too far from these areas, it will be less convenient or could affect the resale value.
Even if two lots have the same square footage, they can be entirely different due to the property lines. So, for example, a square lot would be easier to build on than a longer narrow lot of the same size. Knowing the overall shape of the property will allow you get an idea of where your home could be built on the lot, along with how large the yard will be. Getting a property survey done before buying a property helps you better understand any lot restrictions you may face.
It is important to find out if the property has utility hookups. This is something you might take for granted in a pre-constructed home, but the lot you choose needs access to utilities like electricity, water, sewer, and gas. If the lot is in a rural area, some service providers may need a to run a line to the property for a fee. If the lot is too far from a municipality’s water and sewer lines, you’ll need to install a well and a septic system, which will add to your overall costs.
Additionally, consider how good your cell service is on the property. A remote property with limited cell service may need a landline connection in case of emergencies.
Before you buy a lot and start construction, you need to find out if you can even build a home on the property. You may find this information on the county’s website, or you may want to visit the county planning office and check to see if there are any zoning restrictions. Some lots may have setbacks, which are restrictions stating how close you can build a home to a curb or property line.
This is where using a real estate agent to find a lot is helpful—an agent can walk you through the process while educating you on information that impacts how you build your home.
If the lot is in a neighborhood, this probably won’t be an issue. However, some rural lots are landlocked by other people’s property. In this case, you would need to establish an easement with the nearby property owner for the use of a driveway. An easement grants rights to one party to access another’s property for specific reasons. If you need use of a neighbor’s property to access a road, it is important to contact a real estate attorney to help design or review an easement.
Too little or too much slope on a property can cause problems for your future home. You’ll need some slope to help with drainage and avoid sitting water. However, too much slope may require soil stabilization and retaining walls to safely build on, adding an additional cost to your budget.
A lot’s soil can have a major impact on your construction plans and even your home’s future, making a soil test a necessary task. Soil that is full of absorptive clay or that is loose could cause foundation damage and requires additional foundational support. Soil with ledge rock can create problems with excavation and drainage.
You should consider having an environmental survey done, especially on raw pieces of land, before buying and building on a lot. This will help you become aware of issues such as endangered species, conservation easements, or even environmental contamination, all of which can have a big impact on how you use the lot.
By finding a lot to fit your needs, you’ll be one step closer to building your dream home.