The custom home of your dreams starts with an amazing piece of property. But sometimes it’s not that simple. Whether you purchased a parcel long ago and are getting ready to build or are looking to buy land, here are some potential challenges to keep in mind.
Location and Terrain
Just because a piece of land is “1 acre” doesn’t mean you have full flexibility on where to build on it and how big your home’s footprint can be. Each jurisdiction has different requirements for shoreline and property line setbacks and any number of other regulations. In addition, not all of the land may be suitable for building on; a common obstacle here is wetlands. If there is wetland on your property, your builder will need to mitigate for that and work around protections.
Slope is another element that will impact your home’s design. We work with a lot of clients who have properties that are steep or situated on a shoreline or bluff. Some of those lots may require extra engineering. Drainage is another potential issue that can impact where your house can go. Estes’ in house team can help you assess your property and design a home to accommodate these elements while balancing safety, cost, design goals, and the unique features of the property, such as views and trees.
When you’re considering a property to purchase, a location steps from the water may be tempting, but know that oftentimes you’re restricted on how close you can get, which could impact your views and design goals.
Finally, consider visible obstacles such as trees and boulders, which can be both a draw and an added expense when it comes time to build.
Depending on where your property is located, you may have to bring in electrical and gas lines. Knowing where the nearest connection point is can help determine how much investment this will require on your part. Also take into consideration internet availability. Some more remote locales don’t have dependable access to the internet, so if you’ll be working from home or otherwise relying on WiFi, be sure to do your research before buying land.
A well will be another potential expense. Check with neighbors to see how deep their wells are, which can help you begin to define the cost of yours. And note that even if your property is on city water, if there’s no meter, there will be a hefty fee to connect.
Similarly, you’ll need to consider sewer and septic. If a septic tank is needed, that will add additional cost and take up additional space; this is where Estes’ in-house design team can again be of help in maximizing your home’s layout. If your property will be connecting to city sewer, that will have an associated connection cost.
Recognize the Potential Financial Impact
All of the potential challenges above bring an important lesson: The price of your land is rarely, if ever, only reflected in the purchase cost. So even if you already own the land outright, recognize that the expense of getting the land ready and legal to build may add to the overall cost of your project—and therefore how much of your bank loan can go toward the house itself. Accommodating a steep slope may mean sacrificing your dream kitchen appliances.
If you haven’t already purchased your land, have an expert evaluate the property for potential issues and advise you on hidden restrictions you may not know about. If you’ve already purchased a parcel, a builder like Estes can help you find and navigate these challenges.
At the beginning of your build process, our team sifts through all the documentation that you may or may not have from the title company and leverages our experience to get a full picture of potential restrictions on the parcel and possible problem areas. There are often items hidden in the documents that we’re able to spot.
From there, and perhaps most importantly, our in-house team will design a home that works with the land while preserving its best attributes.