What You Need to Know Before You Buy a Lot

What You Need to Know Before You Buy a Lot

When you begin to consider building a custom home, you are most likely also purchasing a lot.  In this article, we provide valuable information about what you need to know before you buy a lot.

We often receive calls from folks who have been looking at lots and have narrowed their choices down to two or three options. The Realtor may be a good guide, but the Realtor is not responsible for determining whether or not the house you’d like to build can actually be built on the lot you are selecting. So, instead of buying the lot first, we highly recommend getting your Realtor to help you nail down a few options and then using a collaborative team approach  including the architect, builder and/or civil engineer to make the final decision. If you’ve never purchased a lot, this can help you to avoid serious issues. Here is a story to demonstrate why collaboration is so important.

A few years ago, we were approached by Joanie and Dave.  They had purchased a lot in an area that was very desirable and paid a premium for the land. After it was purchased, they began working on plans for their dream home. They were very excited by the time they met with us to get started building their dream home.

However, when we visited the property, we were immediately concerned about the topography of the land, set back requirements in relation to nearby homes, and well/septic requirements. The Lot was also located near a tributary which carried with it even more restrictions. We concluded that the location was not suitable for the size and type of home they wanted to build. They had spent a tremendous amount of time, money and effort and now they had a very hard decision to make – move forward building a different type of home, that was not their dream home, or selling the property and starting over.

This is an unfortunate, but not uncommon, story. The moral is that if you are looking to buy a Lot or a piece of land, be sure to have your team selected, and on standby, so that they can help you determine if the Lot is the right fit for the home you want to build. Alternatively, having flexibility with your dream home concept will provide more alternatives, if you’ve already bought the Lot.

In addition, if you purchase a piece of land, primarily based on price, you may discover unexpected issues later on. Here are some things to consider:

  • Permitting and impact fees vary by county and must be factored into the overall cost/budget.
  • Will additional clearing or grading be required? Site work and fill dirt can increase your cost by thousands.
  • Does the Lot require a septic system, mounded system, or have access to public utilities? The cost variables can be substantial.
  • Is the property located in/near the waterfront? A variety of additional considerations including critical area requirements, impervious surface calculations, and impact fees must be factored into the overall cost and time schedule.
  • Does the property need to have a site development plan approved by the county? This can add significant time and money to the overall budget.

Of course, these are just some of the issues that must be considered. Meeting with an experienced architect, builder, or engineer before you buy the Lot will save you time and money in the long run and help you make an informed decision.

This article is an excerpt from our book:  Designing & Building Your Custom Dream Home: How to Create an Experience You’ll Love to Remember.”  If you are thinking about building your once-in-a-lifetime custom luxury home, be sure to download the FREE ebook: or visit our website at MuellerHomes.com to schedule a consultation.

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