If you’re looking to build a custom home, the first step is to find a buildable lot. Many considerations go into this, from the lot’s location, grade, and soil conditions to land use regulations and deed restrictions. When evaluating a piece of land to build on, take your time and proceed with caution.
Consider Land Use Regulations
Zoning laws at the local, state, and federal levels restrict what you can build on certain parcels of land. Some lots are zoned for residential, while others are earmarked for commercial or agricultural use. You may be able to have your property rezoned, but this takes time and money, with no promise of success.
Zoning also dictates things such as building height, size, and distance from the road. If you run into a problem—such as buying a lot approved for a two-bedroom home when you want to build one with four bedrooms—you’ll have to apply for a variance. There’s no guarantee you’ll get one, so it’s better to walk away from a problematic lot before you fall in love with a headache waiting to happen.
Conduct a Title Search
A particular lot may be restricted through easements, rights-of-way, covenants, or other deed restrictions. For instance, the previous owner may have donated a portion of the land for conservation. If that’s the case, you will not be able to build there. A title search can help you determine if problems like this could get in the way of buying or building on a lot.
Contact Your Local Building & Planning Department
Often the best place to find out if a lot is buildable is to visit the Building and Planning Office. While you’re there, pick up a local zoning map. The Building and Planning Office is not intended to prevent construction—rather, officials want builders and developers to understand and follow the rules established to protect the community.
Tell officials where you want to build and ask if you will likely face any hiccups along the way. They should be able to tell you if there are any immediate reasons why you can’t build on the land you’ve picked out.
Ask for Verification
As a buyer, you have the right to know how the land was used prior to your purchase. For instance, hidden environmental problems could carry a high cleanup cost. You can prevent this liability from landing on your shoulders by asking the seller for a written statement certifying that the land is free of toxic materials.
Warning Signs to Watch Out For
It’s not illegal for someone to sell you an unbuildable lot or one that is unsuitable for your project. Be extra cautious when exploring land with the following characteristics:
- Wetlands and flood zones
- Historical sites
- Environmentally sensitive sites
- Inadequate road frontage or access
- No potable water onsite
- Contaminated soil
- Steep grade
- Failure to pass a percolation or “perc” test
If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of finding a buildable lot, team up with Towne Craft Builders. Part of our service includes helping you find that special lot in the perfect location. We can also assist with the land purchase, obtain a construction permit, and build your custom dream home.
We’re here for you every step of the way! To discuss your vision and goals for building your dream home, please contact us online or call (301) 880-0103 today.