LAND OR LOT SELECTION

RealtyTrac

Lot Selection is a vital early step in the building process. Real estate or land acquisition is often the most expensive and difficult portion of the owner builder project. The common misconception is that a person can simply buy a piece of property and build a home. Unfortunately, for the owner builder, the truth is much more complicated. There are many factors which distinguish a “good" lot from a not so attractive property.

As you will find out, some difficulties are due to bureaucracy (zoning rules, HOA rules, environmental protection laws, etc.). Other lot features you will evaluate can impact the ease of construction and some are important because they contribute to the future value of your home or to the performance of your home.



The Market Is Down, What Should I Do?

What an opportunity!!! House and land prices are plummeting which means more affordable entry points for owner builders and remodelers. Look for forclosurers and other great deals. It's difficult to pick a bottom of the market but prices have already dropped a great deal. Start shopping. The more you save on your lot purchase, the more money you can put into your home and still stay within budget.

Don't forget to do your research. Scroll down and review those important points to consider when selecting your lot.

GETTING STARTED

As an owner builder, be sure to establish a price range, with a maximum amount, that you can pay for your land. Write it down. Stick to it! Any expense required to bring the lot to buildable condition should be added to the price of the lot. Now we begin our lot selection checklist.

PROPERTY RESEARCH

START WITH RESEARCH. KEEP RECORDS DURING THE WHOLE LOT SELECTION PROCESS. TAKE YOUR CAMERA WITH YOU AND TAKE PICTURES OF VARIOUS POTENTIAL PROPERTIES. BE SURE TO INCLUDE PICTURES OF THE SURROUNDING AREA AND VIEWS FROM THE LOT.

NOTE SOURCES OF CONTACT ON LOTS:

1. CLASSIFIED AD / KEEP IT.

2. REALTOR WITH NAME/CO/TELEPHONE

3. INDIVIDUAL RESEARCH/SOURCE


SPECIFIC LOCATION OF PROPERTY:

1. ADDRESS or

2. SUBDIVISION and LOT NUMBER or

3. TAX PARCEL NUMBER

SIZE OF LOT (WITH DIMENSIONS)

LAND TOPOGRAPHY

1. RELATIVELY FLAT

2. SLIGHT SLOPE FRONT TO BACK

3. SIGNIFICANT SLOPE FRONT TO BACK. WILL THE LOT SLOPE FORCE A STEEP DRIVWAY? THIS IS DANGEROUS, ESPECIALLY IN AREAS THAT GET SNOW AND ICE.

4. SLOPE DOWN AWAY FROM THE SEWER TAP. IN A DEVELOPED AREA A DOWNWARD SLOPE MAY MAKE A GRINDER AND SEWER PUMP NECESSARY. SLOPE WILL IMPACT THE HOME DESIGN AND THE COST OF CONSTRUCTION- BEWARE!!

DESCRIBE SOIL CONDITIONS

REMEMBER THAT CLAY SOIL OR ROCKY SOIL MAY IMPACT THE COST OF CONSTRUCTION AND CHANGE CONSTRUCTION TECHNIQUES. KNOWLEDGE OF SOIL CONDITIONS AND LOT TERRAIN ARE KEY COMPONENTS OF LOT SELECTION. SOMETIMES THE COST INCREASE DUE TO EXCAVATION CAN BREAK A PROJECT.

MUNICIPALITY

1. CITY AND ZONING REQUIREMENTS

2. COUNTY AND ZONING REQUIREMENTS

NOTE REQUIREMENTS OF MUNICIPALITY:

1. IS THERE A REQUIREMENT WHICH LIMITS THE HEIGHT OF THE STRUCTURE?

2. IS THERE A REQUIREMENT FOR INDOOR FIRE SPRINKLERS?

3. WHAT ARE THE DESIGNATED BUILDING SETBACKS FROM PROPERTY LINES? (THIS MAY IMPACT YOUR HOUSE DESIGN, SO DON’T WAIT TO FIND OUT.)

4. WHAT ARE THE IMPACT FEES AND BUILDING PERMIT FEES?

5. ARE THERE ANY EASEMENTS WHICH MIGHT IMPACT WHERE THE HOUSE CAN BE BUILT?

WILL THE HOUSE FIT?

ONCE THE SURVEY IS COMPLETE AND BEFORE CLOSING THE PURCHASE OF YOUR LOT, BE SURE THE BUILDING PAD WILL ACCOMMODATE HOUSE OR HOUSE AND SEPTIC IF NEEDED.

WHAT UTILITIES ARE AVAILABLE?

1. SEWER YES NO

2. WATER YES NO

3. TELEPHONE YES NO

4. NATURAL GAS YES NO

5. CABLE YES NO

6. SATELLITE YES NO

7. WIRELESS INTERNET YES NO

8. GARBAGE COLLECTION YES NO

9. EMERGENCY SERVICES YES NO

IMPACT

HOW DOES THE NON- AVAILABILITY OF ANY OF THE ABOVE AFFECT THE COST OF CONSTRUCTION AND DESIREABILITY OF LOCATION?

IF SEWER IS NOT AVAILABLE, WHAT TYPE OF SEPTIC SYSTEM WILL BE REQUIRED? HOW MUCH WILL IT COST? (SEPTIC FIELDS CAN TAKE UP A LARGE AMOUNT OF LOT SPACE SO VERIFY WHAT IS REQUIRED AND THE SPACE NEEDED. BE SURE TO GET A PERC TEST.)

IF WATER IS NOT AVAILABLE, WHAT WILL THE COST BE TO PUT IN A WELL? WHAT IS THE QUALITY OF THE WATER IN THE AREA? CHECK WITH A LOCAL WELL DRILLER.

PROPERTY CHARACTERISTICS INFLUENCING LOT SELECTION

ARE NEIGHBORHOOD HOMES COMPATIBLE WITH WHAT YOU ARE EXPECTING TO BUILD?

WHEN THE HOUSE IS BUILT ON THE LOT, HOW CLOSE WILL IT BE TO THE NEIHGHBOR’S HOME? IS THIS A PROBLEM? CAN YOU ORIENT OR DESIGN YOUR HOME TO RETAIN PRIVACY?

DOES THE PROPERTY ALLOW YOU TO BUILD THE SIZE AND CONFIGURATION OF HOME YOU DESIRE?

ASK YOURSELF DOES THE LOT ORIENTATION ALLOW ME TO BUILD MY HOME WITH THE ALIGNMENT I PREFER?...PREFERABLY FACING NORTH OR SOUTH. WILL THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE MUNICIPALITY PRECLUDE THAT? FOR INSTANCE THE CITY MAY REQUIRE THAT THE HOUSE FACE A SPECIFIC STREET OR REQUIRE THAT EGRESS FROM THE LOT BE ON A SPECIFIC STREET. EITHER REQUIREMENT CAN CHANGE THE ORIENTATION OF THE HOUSE.

WILL THE PROPOSED DRIVEWAY EMPTY ONTO A QUIET STREET ALLOWING EASY ACCESS?-AVOID A DRIVEWAY ONTO A BUSY STREET. ARE THERE ANY ACCESS PROBLEMS? BE SURE THE PARCEL HAS LEGAL ACCESS TO A PUBLIC STREET. IS THE ONLY ACCESS ONTO A HIGH SPEED ROAD?

NUISANCE ISSUES AFFECTING REAL ESTATE

ARE THERE ANY NUISANCE ISSUES WHICH MIGHT IMPACT THE LOT/ HOME?

1. SEWER TREATMENT FACILITY

2. COMMERCIAL ACTIVITY

3. AIRPORT

4. BUSY HIGHWAY OR THOROUGHFARE

5. SCHOOL

6. HALFWAY HOUSE, ETC.

7. ARE THERE ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES WHICH IMPACT LAND

8. ARE THERE WETLANDS TO BE CONSIDERED- INCLUDE ALL INFORMATION ABOUT SETBACKS

9. HAVE you CHECKED CRIME STATISTICS IN THE AREA.

10. IS THERE PLANNED HIGHWAY AND COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT

HOA REQUIREMENTS TO CONSIDER DURING LOT SELECTION

WHAT ARE THE MAXIMUM AND MINIMUM SQARE FOOTAGE REQUIREMENTS IN THE HOA COMMUNITY?

WHAT ARE THE PLAN REVIEW REQUIREMENTS OF THE HOA?

ARE THERE RESTRICTIONS ON VARIOUS BUILDING MATERIALS OR EXTERIOR COLORS?

ARE YOU ALLOWED TO BUILD A GUEST HOME OR OUT BUILDING ON YOUR LOT?

SURVEY!

ALWAYS INSIST ON A SURVEY OF THE LOT YOU DECIDE TO PURCHASE. CHECK MEASUREMENTS TO ENSURE IT AGREES WITH THE ADVERTISED DIMENSIONS. MAKE CERTAIN THE LOT MEETS MINIMUM ZONING REQUIREMENTS. HOPEFULLY, YOU ARE ABLE TO FIND SEVERAL LOTS THAT WOULD BE ACCEPTABLE FOR YOUR HOME. RANK THEM IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE, BASED ON THE ATTRIBUTES YOU HAVE DOCUMENTED.

ONCE YOUR LOT SELECTION IS COMPLETE YOU CAN BEGIN HOME DESIGN.