5 Important Factors To Consider When Choosing A Lot For Your Custom Home

When it comes to building a new custom home, selecting a high-quality lot is just as important as choosing the right model and contractor. While many first-time homebuyers are eager to start defining the details of their custom home right away, finding the right lot is a crucial first step that will save you a lot of headaches down the line. At the end of the day, the lot you choose will have a significant impact on your budget and house specifications, so it’s important to choose carefully.

Understanding how to evaluate and select a piece of land can be intimidating. After all, choosing a bad lot can really lead to unexpected expenses and even safety issues if you’re not careful. However, being prepared and knowing what to look for in a lot can really help you to manage risk. If you’re a first-time custom home builder, below are five factors you should always keep in mind when selecting a new lot.

1. The Surrounding Neighborhood

The neighborhood where you choose to build your custom home can significantly influence your life in a number of ways. Your home value, safety, kid’s education, and commute to work can all be impacted by where you decide to live. You might find a great lot at an affordable price, but if it’s not in the right location, then you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons. Below are some important factors to consider when evaluating a neighborhood:

  • School District Quality – If you have kids, choosing a good school district is a no-brainer. Even if you don’t have kids, living in a good school district can significantly influence real estate value. 
  • Crime and Safety –  Always be sure to look into the crime rates of a prospective neighborhood. If you can’t find information online, it might be worth asking neighbors or the local police department for information on crime rates.
  • Average Household Income – The amount of money your neighbors make can tell you a lot about the current state of the neighborhood. Neighbors with higher incomes are more likely to invest in their properties, which will ultimately affect the property values of the entire neighborhood.
  • Local Businesses – A variety of shops, restaurants, and amenities within walking distance can really impact your quality of life. Depending on your lifestyle, your lot’s proximity to local businesses may be an important factor.
  • Morning Commute – The distance between your new home and your office is ultimately going to determine how much time you have in your day. 

2. The Condition Of The Land

Just because land looks like it’s in good shape, doesn’t mean it’s actually suitable for building. Before you purchase a lot, you should have a thorough property evaluation to ensure the lot can support construction. There are many factors that should be considered when evaluating the quality of the land. For example, a soil test is important to validate the condition of the lot. The soil must be strong enough to support the foundation of your custom home, otherwise, your home may need additional foundational support. 

If a potential lot is poorly graded, this can also be a warning sign. Poorly graded land can lead to flooding problems or water damage. It can also make construction significantly more difficult. 

Some of these issues may be able to be resolved with land preparation/landscaping. Keep in mind, there will almost always be some degree of land preparation work required. Rectifying bad soil, tree removal, and sloping are three common issues that can be resolved with land preparation; however, the work can be fairly expensive. Land preparation costs can be well over $10,000. Choosing a lot that requires less preparation work will help you to reduce the price tag. Working with a good custom home builder is the best way to minimize land preparation costs. A good custom home builder can serve as a consultant and also has connections to contractors who can do the necessary work at the right price.

3. Zoning Laws

Local zoning laws govern how properties can be used or developed within a specific jurisdiction. For example, zoning laws may prevent homeowners from operating a business on residential property or from keeping certain types of animals on the land. They can also define requirements for building dimensions or how the construction must take place. It’s always a good idea to gain an understanding of local zoning laws that apply to your lot before designing your custom home. A good custom home builder should be able to help you here.

4. Consider Setbacks and Easements

When evaluating a property, you’ll need to consider any setbacks and easements. Setbacks are guidelines that indicate which parts of the lot are suitable for construction. Significant setbacks may impact where you’ll be able to place your home or how large your home can be. 

Easements are legal rights that give a property owner the option to use another property for a specific purpose. Easements can also limit what parts of your property can be used for custom home construction. Common examples of easements are power lines that run across a property or shared driveways. If you’re required to share part of a property with another party, this can limit where you’ll be able to build.

5. Ensure Utilities Are Available

If your lot is located in an undeveloped area, additional work may be required to set up gas, electricity, and plumbing. If utilities are unavailable, you’ll definitely need to factor this into your budget and plan ahead as this can be a major expense. Take plumbing for example. Your lot will likely need a sewer hookup, which will require special permitting and additional expenses. If a sewer hookup isn’t available, then you’ll need your own septic tank, which can be incredibly expensive and even cost-prohibitive for many people. Understanding what utilities are available to a specific piece of land is essential to determining whether a lot can fit within your budget.

Deciding to build a custom home is an exciting process, but figuring out where you’re going to put it can be a tough decision. Understanding how to evaluate a lot is the first step, but working with an experienced custom home builder is the best way to mitigate risk. A custom home builder will be able to help you determine if a lot is suitable for your specific home and can also recommend a network of professional contractors who can help make your project a success.
If you’re considering a custom home in the Deland area, our team at Atlas Homes would be happy to help you. Not only will we walk you through our custom home building process, but we can also assist in helping you find the perfect lot for your home.