Many of the clients I work with have been gifted their land or purchased it some time ago. But others are looking for the site for their new home. Here are some thoughts and steps you should take before putting an offer in on a lot.
*Visit the local Building Department- Every city/township has a building department. Among other duties, they are in charge of approving or denying building permits. This should be your first stop. They will be able to give you all of their requirements for the land and home.
Make sure you find out what is the minimum lot size and road frontage? Do they have a map of areas that are zoned for single family homes? Are there areas you should avoid due to be classified as Wetlands or because they don't "perk"? What are the minimum requirements for the home (square footage, foundation, etc.)?
*Land vs. Site Improvement Costs- You may be tempted to avoid a pricy lot in a subdivision and instead look for cheap land out in the country. If you want to live in the country, not in a subdivision, that's fine. But keep in mind that cheap land may come with high site improvement costs.
That expensive lot in the subdivision should have city water, city sewer, gas and electric lines all ready to be hooked up to your home. With the cheap land you may have to drill a well, dig a septic field, install a propane tank, and pay to have an electric line run to your lot.
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*Look at the homes around your lot- As I mentioned in a previous blog, don't overbuild for the area. You don't want to build a 3500 sq. ft. home in a area of 1500 sq. ft. homes. The smaller homes will drag down your appraised value and sale price when you sell.
*Find a local builder and rely on their advice- Find a builder that has worked with the local building department. Ask the local building inspector if they have worked with the builder before. Stop in at the local lumber yard and ask around about the builder.