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When you speak to homeowners who’ve had the opportunity to build on their lot, most will tell you that selecting a favorite piece of land and then designing and building a home that fully leverages the unique topography and views of the lot is a deeply rewarding experience.
Given that, it’s not surprising that people often start their new home journey with a piece of land they’re considering buying. If you’re such a homebuyer, step one – ideally, before you purchase land – should be a careful assessment of the feasibility and cost to build on that parcel of land.
To the untrained eye, a lot or parcel of land may appear to be easily buildable, but prove not to be. More than one land lover has learned the hard way that ignorance can be expensive, but knowledge is power.
Especially if you’re in the market for land in remote or less-developed areas, it’s wise to consult an experienced builder with local knowledge and strong build-on-your-lot expertise. Inviting a builder to become a part of your land search process can help you avoid more difficult lots and save you money – both on the purchase price of the property and by helping you better understand, in advance, the cost to turn land into a buildable lot.
If you’re considering buying an improved lot in an existing new home community, you can probably skip past issues of access to electricity, natural gas, water and sewer connections – since those will likely be in place. However, even in this case, some homework done with an experienced builder will also pay off.
For example, one site may require a foundation for your home supported by below-ground piers. Another site may require extensive excavation work, which can run into thousands of dollars. And there are other considerations as well, including a complete understanding of the easements, zoning laws, property line restrictions, and architecture guidelines and review processes.
Many build-on-your-lot firms have extensive libraries of floorplans; one of these existing plans may be ideal for your taste, budget and the land you select. In other cases, you may want to modify an existing home plan to better reflect the unique character of your lot – to take advantage of views, work around mature trees you seek to retain, or perhaps to benefit from passive solar heat gain.
While many homebuyers find that an existing home plan or a modified version of a plan will work well for their needs and lot, other buyers may wish to invest in a custom home plan drawn from scratch, to more fully reflect their design goals for their home and the unique topography of their land.
Regardless of the builder you select, be realistic with your time expectations. While a home can be built in 90-100 days, a custom built home on one’s own lot can reasonably take six months or longer.
Living where you want, on land you may have dreamed about for years, has become an essential part of the American dream. In a culture that values individuality and self-expression, more people are opting to buy their land first, and then building a custom or semi-custom home.
By hiring a builder with a strong build-on-your-lot program, homebuyers can save money as well as the hassle of hiring their own architect and general contractor. Build-on-your-lot builders will assist you with site evaluations, floorplans, permits, coordination, construction, and in some cases, even financing.