There is nothing quite like selecting a piece of land and building a home on it that is meticulously tailored to your family’s needs, tastes, and life>move-in ready home. When you begin looking for land, keep these five things in mind to make sure it will be a great spot for the home you envision.
1. WHAT WAS THERE BEFORE?
Researching the history of the lot you are considering will help you be aware of any potential problems that previous uses may pose. For example, a prospective buyer may find information that raises concerns about environmental hazards or protected sites or species that may limit use of the land. If an environmental survey has not been done, consider having one done to ensure that you’re aware of any potential issues.
2. WHAT DIRECTION WILL YOU HOME FACE ON THE LOT?
The direction your home faces can have a significant impact on your home’s comfort and energy efficiency. When you envision your home on the lot, which way is it facing? Now, consider these factors:
- Facing a long side of the home as near as possible to the south positions windows to collect solar heat in the winter. However, windows that face too far southwest can cause excessive heat in summer, and facing them too far to the southeast can cause you to miss opportunities for passive heat in the winter.
- A north-facing home with a steep driveway is likely to create more problematic icy conditions in the winter.
- Rooms with west-facing windows can get lots of afternoon and evening light.
- The natural features of the land can also increase efficiency. Consider positioning the home to take advantage of summer shade from deciduous trees (which will be bare in winter, allowing more warmth and light to pass through) and structures that can block winter winds from the north, such as hills and evergreen trees
3. DOES THE LOT HAVE AN IRREGULAR SHAPE?
While houses certainly can be built on oddly shaped lots, doing so can sometimes require additional construction costs as well as limit a home’s resale value. A home designed to fit on an unusual lot is likely to have some quirky features, such as irregularly shaped rooms that may be hard to furnish.
4. DOES THE LOT HAVE STEEP SLOPES?
Steep slopes can add substantially to your construction costs. Lots with grades less than 10% (less than a 1-foot rise over 10 feet of distance) are easiest to develop. Between 10% and 20%, you can expect to spend more on grading the lot and constructing the foundation. At grades above 20%, extensive and costly groundwork may be necessary before building can begin. If you’re considering building on a steep grade, make sure to get estimates of development costs before you commit. The quality of soil on a steep lot can also have a major impact. Consider the potential effects of erosion over time, and bear in mind that dense soil on the uphill side of a steep grade can put a great deal of pressure on a home’s foundation.
5. WHAT WILL YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD BE LIKE?
If you’re buying a lot in a new development, do some research to see what is planned for the area. The first buyers in a new development have to try to predict what the neighborhood will look like 5, 10, or 20 years into the future to get a sense of whether it’s somewhere they will want to be. Is there likely to be a large commercial or industrial center nearer than you would like? Are new roads planned in the neighborhood? How are the noise and traffic levels likely to change over time?
Taking the time to ask and research essential questions about your lot before you buy will help ensure you can build the home you want within your budget. Let us help you select a lot that fits your needs.
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