Choosing the best lot to build your custom house on plays a major role in the enjoyment of your home, as well as affects what the lot and house costs you both upfront and over the long term.
Here’s a list of what to consider when selecting a lot.
Unless you work at home, you want to factor in the commute time to work. When testing out the commute, drive during the week at times you’ll normally drive to work, but also drive to stores you frequently visit as well as other places you drive often such as to your child’s school or to church.
The place you choose to live is where you will spend the majority of your time. It should be a community you want to support. Consider the quality of the school system particularly if you plan to or already have children. It’s also pertinent to consider the school system even if you don’t as school reputation affects resale value.
Speaking of resale value, place this on the list of important considerations. It’s not only the quality of the school system that affects resale value, but also how far the land is away from major cities, shopping and attractions, and if the city has quality parks and other recreational facilities. If you live further out in the country, the land may cost less but have a lower resale value and you may face difficulty selling it.
Consider what areas nearby are slotted for future commercial and residential development. The growth outlook may appeal to you, or you may be dissuaded by too much commercial growth infringing on your lifestyle. To find out more information about the plan for areas of undeveloped land near your lot, contact your local planning and zoning departments, where you can also find out about any upcoming meetings related to development.
Real Estate Taxes
Research real estate taxes, including any potential increases expected, particularly relevant if you are building your house in a fast-growing area with the need to build new schools.
Lots located in more secluded areas, or on a cul-de-sac have less traffic and noise, but lots located on corners offer easier, quicker access on a daily basis.
Landscaping and Snow Removal
When it comes to the debate between corner lot vs interior lot, snow removal and landscaping are considerations. With a corner lot you have two sides which means more yard maintenance and snow removal, if there are sidewalks on both the front and side. Yet with a cul-de-sac lot, the front yard may be narrow, requiring the house to be set back farther so you have a long driveway that also requires more snow removal, and you lose much of your backyard and have to invest more money in landscaping the front yard since it’s more visible. You also lose the option to install a pool or other structure in the backyard if your space is more limited in the back of the house.
Your House Plan
A critical factor in deciding on a lot is if the house you plan to build fits within the buildable area of the lot. If the land has rock outcroppings or utility easements, it affects the buildable area. Your builder or the developer can help you determine the buildable area.
Most of a house’s windows sit at the back of the house where most of the living spaces are – the kitchen, living room, etc. – and this is where you want sunlight to come in. If the windows are on the south side of the house, you’ll enjoy sunlight for most of the day. But if they are on the north side, you won’t get any direct sunlight at all. And if those windows face west, the hot afternoon sun will pour in and make the house extra hot and likely fade your furniture and carpeting. Also consider that the orientation of the house along with proper positioning of doors and windows maximizes the use of the sun’s heat, and helps you to save on energy bills.
A house placed on a slope costs more to build than one placed on flat land, and it may limit the amount of backyard space. However, a sloping lot is ideal for a walk-out basement. Analyze the pros and cons the sloped lot has in terms of your design, and determine if you can build on the lot without incurring a much greater expense.
Soil type can greatly affect the construction cost. The varying types of soils drain differently and retain water in different ways, and this affects how they support a building. You can have the soil analyzed by the local county extension service and the developer or builder should be able to tell you how the soil type has impacted other construction projects nearby.
Developed vs Undeveloped
If you purchase a lot outside of a developed area, you may have to pay to run electricity, phone lines and water to the house. You may even have to drill a well or install a septic system. Purchasing a lot in a developed area that has the utilities already installed will save you money.
Check with the local government about zoning ordinances that may permit you from building on the land, or that may restrict you from building the house you want. A subdivision also may have restrictions on what type of home you can build on their lots. Additionally, consider the other rules the subdivision imposes (e.g. where you can park your vehicle, if you can have a pool, etc.) in selecting your lot.
All lots have their pros and cons, but using these considerations can help you to select the right lot for your custom home needs.