Owner Builder Hints: Low Lots

Owner Builder Online advocates an emphasis on proper lot selection as a key element to the owner builder process. All too often a land purchase is made purely on the basis of cost. It is important to realize that after the purchase price, additional costs may be incurred.

Low Land

One particular issue that can cost a great deal is a building pad that is lower than street level. It is very expensive to build up a low lot with imported fill. The fill must be compacted and tested. The engineered fill will have to be approved before building construction will be allowed to commence.


Video Example of Foundation Below Street Level

This is our first attempt at video production. We have more informative and instruction videos to come.

This video demonstrates the impact of selecting a low lot on the underslab plumbing during the construction process.

Drainage Issues

Low lots are also in danger of flooding. It is more difficult to to have proper drainage away from the house when the building pad is lower than the street. Again, this will lead to additional unforseen costs that may put the project off budget.

Steep Driveways

Steep driveways are difficult to navigate and potentially dangerous. If an owner builder lives in a region subject to freezing, ice can easily turn a steep driveway into a slide. Vehicles may end up flying uncontrollably into the house or even worse, over the edge and down the hill. As you can see, selecting a low lot can be a costly choice for an owner builder. Consider carefully before purchasing a low lying parcel. It is much better to spend a bit more, have a building pad that has good drainage and safe access.

Low Lot Solution

Another option on the table is to have a raised crawlspace foundation or pier foundation . If the lot is not too low, it may allow for plumbing to be run without the aid of a waste pump and will prevent the drainage issues that can occur. However, a large amount of engineered fill will be required for the garage area of the foundation. This is because the garage foundation is still a slab and must have soil support.

Lot Selection