When you begin considering building a custom home, the process of purchasing a lot takes center stage. Not only may it be hard to find the perfect lot, but the lot needs to 1) align with your budget, 2) accommodate the size house you want to build, 3) comply with county regulatory considerations. So, before you sign a contract to purchase a lot, we recommend ensuring a feasibility study can be conducted on the lot, before settlement. Here are a few things to consider and why a feasibility study is so important.
The main goal of conducting a feasibility study on a lot is to understand the site considerations. Typically, a surveyor or civil engineer will be sought for this phase of the process to evaluate topography, government ordinances, forest conservation or waterfront restrictions, grading, utilities, and storm water management considerations.
If, for example, a lot has significant grading requirements such as a large limit of disturbance, steep slopes, heavily wooded areas, or storm water management considerations, there will be a corresponding expense associated with getting the site prepared and permitted to build. These costs will need to be factored into your overall budget and potential negotiations on the lot. Sometimes, a higher priced lot with less site work will cost less overall than a bargain lot at a lower price.
WATERFRONT & FOREST CONSERVATION AREAS
Lots located on the waterfront or near forest conservation areas are highly sought after for their views, but there are additional factors and expenses that must also be considered, in addition to the site considerations mentioned above.
Waterfront lots that are located in critical areas of the Chesapeake Bay must comply with strict guidelines, not only for the construction process, but for lot coverage, watershed, and impervious surfaces. Additional time will need to be added for the approval process and impact fees should also be considered. Most importantly, many waterfront lot-seekers may desire a pier or additional structure be built closer to the waters edge. However, setbacks or neighboring properties may limit these options.
In forest covered lots, similar considerations must be taken. The property will have to have a forest retention plan, methodical clearing and vegetation plan, and consideration for conservation easements.
It cannot be overstated how important it is to work with professionals that have experience with the development of raw land, for building a new home. Realtors, appraisers, and even some builders may have the best intentions or provide advice, but a land consultant or experienced builder in lot development, is the best resource to have when it comes to purchasing a lot, and nothing replaces the value of a thorough feasibility study.
Before you put a contract on a lot, be sure that the contract allows you the time and budget for a feasibility study. With this information in hand, you can make wise decisions. It may cost a few thousand dollars up-front, but it will likely save you tens of thousands of dollars, and perhaps more, in the long run. Purchasing a lot or piece of land, without conducting a thorough feasibility study, is a recipe for disaster. Make sure you have the feasibility study report in hand, before you settle on any piece of property.
If you are considering building a custom home, Mueller Homes recommends contacting us when you have located a lot you’d like to build on. We have 40 years of experience with lot and community development and work with some of the area’s best land surveyors and engineers. We are happy to serve as a resource, connect you with reputable professionals, and help ensure you have all the information you need to make wise decisions. Contact us today!