Choosing a Homesite

Before you can build a home, you will need a piece of land.  Usually land will fall into one of two categories – a piece of land that is for sale independent of a builder or development or a homesite within a development with a predetermined builder or selection of builders.

If you find the perfect piece of land to build on, please understand that it doesn’t mean it is buildable.  If you will need a septic system, ask the land owner if there has been a percolation (perc) test done.  If so, what were the results?  A perc test will tell you if a septic system can be installed, where it can be installed (on 4 acres of land, you may not want your home setback on 25 feet from the road, so finding out where is important), and how many bedrooms it can support (If you are a family of ten, you will want to know that it can only support a family of two.  This is why perc test results are given in the form of bedrooms (assuming 2 people per bedroom instead of bathrooms).  If a perc test has not been completed, make your offer contingent on a successful perc test.

If the land you are looking at is within a development you will want to ask what options you have for builders. Next, you will want to make sure you understand what the final plans are for the entire development.   Right now the homesite may look private with mature trees behind it, but will it stay that way or is the developer planning to remove those trees and build another set of homes in what you think is a nice tranquil backyard?  How close will the homes be to each other?  Are there any amenities within the development and if so, where will they be located?  When do they expect the community to be complete?  In a development where you are one of the first to build, these questions will be important.  You want to make sure you aren’t surprised by the progression of the community after you are living in the home you have built.

The condition of the land will impact the time and expense of building a home.  An peice of land with a successful perc test (when needed) will be easier to build on if the land is flat and clear.  Land that requires leveling, retaining walls, and tree clearing will add to the expense and time of the build.  Most developers have either lot fees or have built in the price to prepare the land in their home prices.

Our building project is the final home of an already developed neighborhood.  We know that the homes in this neighborhood are on public water and sewer so a perc test is not needed.  We know nothing more can be built in the woods behind the homesite because of a conservation easement.  We are well aware of the setback requirements and proximity to neighbors.  We know that the homes in this neighborhood are on public water and sewer so a perc test is not needed.  We also know we will need to put some work into making the site buildable.  We are very excited to see the transformation.

There are no pre-determined builders for this homesite, so we are free to interview builders and decide who would be best for this project.  In the next segment of our blog, we will talk about what questions you should be asking builders and what makes one builder better than another.  Stay tuned!