Should you buy your house lot before you pick a house plan? With all things considered, yes. This is not because there are a lot more house plans available than house lots, there aren’t. It is because form should follow function.
For a house to work for you it needs to be right not only for you, but for where it is - its location geographically and where it is located on the lot. A house has to be part of the landscape, not something artificially and thoughtlessly stuck there.
This means the house lot will have a lot to say about the house being built on it. You need to pick the house lot with the same care as the house plan. With that in mind here are 4 tips for picking a house lot:
Lifestyle: A new home is an opportunity to change your lifestyle, or not. You may like your lifestyle and wish to just enhance it. Either way, how you live is the most important factor in picking a house lot.
Do you want to live near town, far from it, or somewhere in-between. Do you want to walk to the places you’ll need to go? Do you like the idea of having a close-knit neighborhood or would you rather have your nearest neighbor on the far horizon?
It is surprising how many people don’t put any conscious thought into this aspect. But when building a new home you have a truly clean slate to deal with. This includes your lifestyle. Take time and think about what that means to you.
Cost: Sure, that is rather simple isn’t it? Well, maybe not. It isn’t necessarily purely the cost to purchase the lot. There are other factors to consider. Such things as development of the lot, utilities and access.
Something as simple as access can be a problem. Back in the 1980’s they were selling land in Maine at bargain prices. That is until you realized the access to the land was listed as “seasonal”. That was code for, we don’t plow the snow off the roads in that area. Which could be a problem in Maine.
A house lot might be cheap, with easy year-round access, but it might need lots of development before you can start to build. It could be low and wet requiring lots of fill and drainage to contend with. Or it could have three inches of top soil then nothing but huge boulders. Or it might not have easy or cheap access water.
Don’t be swayed simply by an affordable purchase price. Just because it is in the area you like and within your budget doesn’t mean it is a good deal. On the flip side of that, don’t dismiss a lot just because it might be difficult to develop.
If the cost to develop a difficult piece is carefully researched and factored into your budget, it can make for a very unique and desirable property when finished.
Limitations: We are not talking about the natural limitations we mentioned before. Here we are talking about man-made limitations. Each house lot will have some form of regulations that come along with it.
Communities, even non-gated communities, can have very limiting and complicated limitations. Some have height restrictions, others have style and even color restrictions. Most of the time these limitations, or requirements, can be found fairly easily.
Always research the area a house lot is in for any community guidelines or restrictions. The last thing you want is to purchase a lot only to find out you can’t build the kind of house you want on it.
Environment: This has to do with landscaping and kind of relates to lifestyle and cost. For example, if you don’t like mowing the lawn, don’t buy a 3 acre lot and clear it all and plant grass. That sounds simple and obvious but many times our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, as they say.
It is easy to dream of a big yard and a nice swimming pool for your Florida retirement home. But it is important to remember that in the summer the lawn will need to be mowed every 5 days and the pool will need cleaning and treating twice a week. Suddenly a smaller yard in a community with a community pool and an association that mows the lawn sounds much more attractive.
Think of it as fitting into the environment you are in. The more you try and force the environment to fit your vision, the more cost and work it will be to maintain in the future. Make sure you see the house lot for what, and where it is, and develop it to enhance it, not completely force it into something it isn’t.
Building a home is an exciting adventure. It all starts picking the right lot for you. Make sure you take these things into consideration when you are searching for the perfect piece of land for your new home.