What to do after buying a lot of land
You finally found that perfect piece of property for your new home and have visions of the house you hope to build on it. But where do you start? Here are a few steps to get you moving in the right direction to build your new home on your own land.
Clean It Up
Says homebuilder James White, “The first physical activity to undertake is to clean out the junk and undergrowth. Only then will you truly know the appearance of your land.” If it is a small lot, use some elbow grease to clear out the brush and debris, and trim back tree limbs. On larger tracts, he says, it may make sense to rent a mulcher to help clear the land. That mulch will be useful later for landscaping beds, or walking paths.
Get a Feel for the Property
Once you have the lot cleared, you can identify the best space to lay a foundation, and assess any site factors that could impede the building process like water flow, drop offs, or steep grades. Identify and flag trees that you want to save. Think about how best to position your home for sunlight and privacy and to save the trees you have flagged. You may even want to hire a drone photographer to get an overhead view of your property.
Determine Utility Services
Before you begin construction, you will need to know how to get utilities, water, and sewer services to the property. “You or your builder can work with a civil engineer to make sure you’re following the regulations for the jurisdiction where your land is located,” says George Fritz, COO of Horizon Builders in Crofton, Maryland.
You also can check with the local utility services, or online resources like In My Area, to determine where service comes onto the lot.
The cost of getting electrical services to your lot can vary dramatically based on several factors:
- The distance from the nearest power pole to the house
- How many new power poles needed to be added
- Whether or not a transformer is required
Tim Turner with Turner & Sons Homes in Oklahoma notes, “When it’s all said and done, we’ve seen costs of the installation of new electric service cost anywhere from free, to a few hundred dollars, to several thousand dollars,” he says.
If your property will need a septic tank, contact the local building department to find out what is required for obtaining a septic permit. Most health departments require a percolation test conducted and signed by a professional septic company.
Consult a Builder
Do the research to find a reputable builder with experience in the area and type of home you want to build. Engaging them early in the process can potentially save you time and money, as the builder will be able to point out potential issues and workarounds.
It’s likely that unexpected costs will crop up along the way. Among the common surprise areas, says Turner, are the costs for removing trees, preparing the lot and putting in the driveway. But unseen ground conditions, he notes, are “one of the biggest reasons to involve a builder as soon as you can because the average person might not be able to tell what’s going on below the sod.”
“Your home builder will not only help you determine the best placement of the home, but also whether or not you should build on a particular lot at all,” says Indiana homebuilder Kenny Reinbrecht.
Freelance writer and marketer Sue Durio has been writing about construction, design and related products for more than 18 years.