Choosing a Lot:
Buying a lot is the first big step when you build a new home. Milwaukee Home Builder, Belman Homes, has come up with valuable information to assist new home buyers shopping for a new lot. There are many factors to consider when purchasing a lot. Below are some of the factors we have identified and how they may weigh into your decision.
- How does the home face?
- Make sure to consider weather effect on each side of the home
- Where do you want sunlight on your home and when?
- Is there a cultural reason the home needs to face a certain way?
- Maximize or Minimize the Views
- Try to pick a plan that takes advantage of the good views and minimizes the bad ones
- Windows can be adjusted in some places
Wooded Lots: While many desire wooded lots, they can present several challenges.
- Enjoy Nature
- Expensive to remove trees & stumps
- Darker inside the home
- Protected areas can limit building pad
- Need a minimum of 15′ of clearance around the foundation for the building of home
- Wooded lots typically have more bugs/critter issues
- Leaves get in the gutters & garage
Exposed Basement: If your lot is sloped, you may be able to get larger windows in your lower level.
Walk-Out – Allow for straight egrets outside. Ideally need 7′ to 8′ of natural slope from the front of corner to corner of the home
Partial Exposure – 3′ to 5′ of slope works best
- Allow for egress windows and more valuable living space below grade
- Natural light is desirable
- Exposures make the basement feel more like a regular living area
- Usually require retaining walls to transition the grade, and can add significant costs to your landscaping
- Allow for easier access for break-ins; windows and doors should be checked often
Making Sure the House Fits on the Lot:
- Obtain a survey or plat from the seller
- Verify the front, side, and rear setbacks (the area on the edges of the lot that do not allow structures)
- Add or factor in any easements
- Lastly, determine the “Housing/Building Pad” or the dimensions left for a home
Now that you know the basics and if the home will fit on the lot you need to determine what it`s going to cost to build the home on your lot. Generally most builders will not include lot improvements in the overall cost as each lot is unique and costs vary in each municipality.
(These are the additional costs to build a home on a piece of land – usually not included in a builder`s base price)
There are typically two types of lots; City and Rural Lots. Below are the some of the differences between the two.
- Cheaper to Improve
- Sewer/Water Connections
- Storm Sewer Connections
- Storm Sewer
- Sidewalks for Walking
- Cost of Lateral to the Main (if lateral is tied into a Major Road it could be more expensive)
- Higher Taxes
- May Have to Pay Impact Fees
- Curbs, Curb Cuts
- Drive Approaches
- Must Follow Stricter Grading Plans
- May Have to Shovel Snow off Sidewalks or get Fined by the City
These lots are typically larger and do not have full municipal services. They typically are not near commercial property or right next to city amenities.
- Cheaper Taxes
- More Space/Yard
- Less Dependency on Public Services
- Lower Costs for Waste/Water Service Due to Private Systems
- More expensive to improve Wells, Septics, Culverts, Bonds
- May Have Reduced or Volunteer Fire Services
- How deep did the neighbors drill?
- Any unusual minerals in the water?
- Do they need a softener or iron filter?
- Any other unusual conditions that could offer the water. (Sand, limestone, bedrock, etc.)
- Make sure to get a copy of the Perc. Test (this is a soil test determining what type of soils are on your lot and what type of waste system you would need)
- If the lot doesn’t come with one, you will need to buy one. Do it before you close to make sure your lot is buildable!
- If it is an older soil test check with the County to see if it is still valid
- Conventional System
- Mound System
- Holding Tank
- Look at front, side and rear
- Determine size of “Housing/Building Pad”
- Developer setbacks can be more restrictive than municipality
- Is it going to be large enough to accommodate the design of your choice?
- Corner lots may have two front setbacks (one at each street)
- Check with local building inspector or with the local county to see if they are aware of any unusual subsoil conditions
- You can also ask them about costs of permits, and other related expenses
- Is there bedrock or unstable soil present?
- Look at how the lot is situated compared to other lots, how will water drain to and from?
Another important area to consider before buying the lot is the Deed Restrictions or rules for a development. These can encompass how the home is to be built as well as where it can be put and what kinds of activities are allowable in your development. It also describes how the home is approved and who is in charge of making the approvals.
- Get a copy and read very carefully before buying the lot
- Provide a copy to your builder when doing an estimate so you get all the requirements up front
- Consider the requirements to make sure you don’t buy a lot that you cannot afford to build on
Lot Buying Tips:
- Present Developer/Realtor with copy of your home plans before purchasing the lot. Make sure they approve of it, or better yet include a contingency in the offer that makes the paperwork subject to their approval of your plans.
- Ask your builder to meet you at the lot
- Bring along as much documentation as you can so they can help you determine the feasibility of your project
- Most builders will be glad to do this!
- Ask for grading plans, soil tests or reports, engineering if available, the play, full deed restrictions, and a vacant land condition report
- Provide the documents mentioned above to Belman Homes so we can do a site visit and evaluation
- If a subdivision has ponds, a fancy entrance sign, or common areas you most likely have a homeowners association
- It is a non-profit company that collects dues for the development and determines and pays for maintenance on the common areas/elements
As you can see there are many factors when choosing a lot, the best advice is ask a lot of questions and find a capable builder you can trust, like Belman Homes, to help walk you through the process so you can get the right site for your home. To set up a lot visit, please contact us. We would be glad to help!