Finding a Lot to Build Your Dream Home

To find the perfect lot, head out on a rainy-sunny day and follow the rainbow, you’ll find your dream spot right at the end of it. Failing that, you’ll need to compromise. Before you drive yourself and your realtor crazy looking at every possibility in a large area, think seriously about what is important to you and separate search characteristics that are set in stone from those you’re willing to flex.

Location is arguably the most important consideration. Is a lot that’s walkable to downtown essential or are you willing to flex that requirement for a little more space? Is a specific school district non-negotiable or are you open to trying a different one? Are you set on an established neighborhood or would you consider one that’s a little more up and coming? Do you really want a yard where your kids can kick a ball around or is a nearby park enough? Are there certain infrastructure features in an area you wouldn’t even consider – septic systems, well water, unpaved roads?

Clearly, price is also a key deciding factor. Make sure you know the maximum you are willing to spend for the lot and home build combined. Hopefully, you’ve already spoken to a builder and have a rough idea of the cost for the size of home you want to build. The question then is whether you’re willing to flex the size / features of your home in order to meet some of your location requirements. Bear in mind that a good deal is important in house-hunting but be open to paying a little over the odds for a location you really like – you’re probably going to be able to make up that value by building an incredible home there. Also, it’s worth noting that tear down costs for existing homes can range from $10k to $30k depending on the size of the home.

Going into a search with a clear idea of what you definitely do or don’t want and where you’re willing to be more flexible will make the process much simpler for everyone involved. So where do you find a lot? Online search engines such as Realtor and Zillow that link to the MLS are a good start, but often realtors will have an idea of properties coming to market before they are listed. In a fast-moving market, the inside info is always helpful. Some builders will also be happy to guide you through the lot-finding process – they may have access to lots that are not listed and are likely to have a number of real estate contacts who can help you find what’s right for you and the type of home you wish to build.

Once you’ve found a lot that you think you love, it’s time to do your due diligence. Here are some questions you really should know the answer to before you finalize the sale:

  1. Is there a Homeowners’ Association for that sub-division and does its rules preclude you from building the size and style of home you want?
  2. Are there easements / other restrictions relating to the property (city, county, state) which limit the size of home you can build?
  3. Does the property have access to all the utilities you need: water, sewer, power?
  4. Is the soil condition suitable for your build? (In some locations, poor soil condition may not support foundations or a high water table may prevent a basement.)
  5. Is the location going to be marketable and appeal to others in the future?

June 10, 2021.

Coming soon…Finding architects and designers.