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Home Site / Property Location

Here are some ideas to consider when choosing a home site or buying property you intend to build your house on.

  • Is the property zoned for residential construction?
  • Is nearby property zoned for non-residential use? If it is, you may have factories or other businesses as neighbors in the future.
  • Is nearby property zoned for multi-family residences? If it is, you may have apartments or duplexes being built in your area. If you want to build a multi-family residence then be sure the land zoning allows this.
  • Is this a historic district? If it is, check into what restrictions or control you have over making changes to the home. Homes in historic districts may need committee approval of any exterior changes.
  • Is the area more prone to crime? Your local police department or real estate agent can help you determine which areas are safer to live in.
  • If you have children or grandchildren then how safe is the location? Nearby sources of water can create a drowning hazard. Is the site in a high traffic area? Are train tracks nearby? Are dangerous industries nearby? What types of pets and wildlife live in area? Is hunting conducted nearby?
  • Are there any subdivision covenants? Will the covenants restrict things you want to do with the property? Will the covenants protect your property? Are the covenants enforced?
  • Is there a neighborhood association? If there is you may have to pay an annual membership fee for common services and shared areas. What services are include in any neighborhood or condo associations fees?
  • Is the lot suitable for the size, shape, and slope of the home you want to build? Is there adequate space for recreation such as a pool, volleyball, or outdoor dining after the home is on the lot?
  • Is the property in a flood plain? If it is, be sure you can get flood insurance and find out the price. You will probably be required to build at a certain level above the flood plain and roads should also be above the flood plain. You may be required to have an above ground foundation to elevate the height of your home's main floor. Also there may be restrictions prohibiting hauling dirt or fill into a flood plain.
  • How does water drain off your property? You don't want to build a home in a spot where drainage water flows. If you need to change the drainage flow, be sure you can change the flow without causing water damage to a neighbor's property.
  • How does the property tax rate compare to other areas?
  • What school district is the property in? Even if you don't have children, the quality of the school can affect resale value of your home.
  • How convenient is the property? How far will you travel to school, work, church, grocery store, shopping centers, gas stations, restaurants, and dry cleaner? Consider the locations you frequently travel to such as golf course, library, beach, dog run, health club, post office, or airport.
  • Will your home be similar in value to other homes in the neighborhood? The value of surrounding homes can affect the resale value of your home. It is best not to have a home that is of much higher value than nearby homes. In general the price of your lot should be around 20% to 25% of the value of your home.
  • Is the home's orientation good when considering the sun and weather?
  • What utilities and services are available? How does the price and quality of utility services compare to other areas?
  • Are there any fees to connect to utilities (sometimes called tap fees) and if so how much are the connect fees?
  • Winter road services - Are roads promptly cleared after a snowstorm. Are you on a snow route that will have parking restrictions in the winter? Is snow removal done in your area or do you need to pay extra to get that service?
  • Road extensions - if your home is being built very far from a road, what will it cost to build a road extension?
  • Will you need a well? If so is the water good in that area? How far will you likely need to drill for water? A soils test or nearby neighbor may be able to tell you what the water conditions are like.
  • Are there any special fees or taxes that will be assessed on a new homebuyer? Some areas have fees (called impact fees) that are assessed on new homes and the fees can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
  • Are there any construction moratoriums that may restrict or prevent construction?
  • Are there liens on the property? You should make sure you can have clear title to the property before buying it.
  • Can you insure the home? Some areas such as flood plains or hurricane zones may be difficult or expensive to insure. Be sure you can get affordable insurance before buying the property.
  • How much would it cost to prepare the site for construction (tree removal, dirt filling or removal, grading, debris removal, well, septic tank, drainage, erosion control, landscaping)?
  • What amenities are included in the subdivision? Will there be sidewalks? Streetlights? A community park, pool, tennis courts, or other recreation facilities?
  • Where are wells and septic systems located on other lots that border the property. The location of those items on other lots can cause limitations on where you are allowed to put a well or septic system on your property.
  • Consider the history and reputation of the subdivision developer. If you are buying a lot in a subdivision, look at other subdivisions that were created by that developer. Talk to residents of the other subdivisions. Did the developer provide all the amenities they promised and were things completed in a timely manner?

House Building Ideas

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