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Selecting a Home Site

Selecting a building site for your new home is an important decision made early in the building process. It is necessary to put careful thought into choosing the perfect home site. Educating yourself about potential building sites will help you discover any hidden issues that may prevent you from building your dream home. Many people planning to build a new home know exactly what type of home will suit their needs. Perhaps a simple ranch house, a rustic cabin, or even a grand luxury mansion lends itself to your specific taste, style, or needs. However, no matter what house plan you desire, you will still need to choose a proper building site. It is important to consider the following information before making your final decision on a building site.

Affordability is a factor that will often dictate the area where a future homeowner chooses to build. It is important to know how much money you should spend on a building site based on how much you plan to spend on your finished home. Follow this rule of thumb. Spend no more than 20 percent of the total cost of the house and land on your building site.

It is important to consider your lifestyle and needs when selecting a local area. Think about your daily/weekly schedule and the places you visit often. In today's fast-paced world, convenience is often a necessity. Consider how closely you would like to live to work, shopping centers, church, major roadways/highways, schools, hospitals, or recreational centers. Evaluate local areas by researching property taxes, the school system, road maintenance, public facilities such as area parks, and services such as water, sewer, police and fire protection, and satellite/wireless internet services.

Select a few potential neighborhoods and visit them at different times of the day. Pay attention to traffic flow and noise levels. Is it easy to navigate the neighborhood or are the streets and roads crowded? Make note of the style of homes already existing in the neighborhoods. Will your style home fit in with the rest? If you have children who will be traveling the neighborhood to and from school or will have a physically disabled person living in your new home, pay attention to sidewalks, stop signs, and crosswalks. Are they well marked and in good shape? Are they safe for travel via a wheelchair or scooter?

It is necessary to consider site accessibility when building your new home. Will you be able to access your home site during inclement weather? Do you have to cross a creek that might potentially flood during a bad storm? Will the driveway be too steep to drive up if there is snow or ice on the ground? Is the driveway entrance safe or will it be hard for other drivers on the main road to see you pulling in and out of your driveway? If your lot does not allow for a flat driveway, please note safe driveways typically require 10 feet of length for every foot above or below street level.

Another item to research when selecting a neighborhood is the availability of improved ground. Neighborhoods with improved ground already have roads, streetlights, utilities, etc. Home sites on improved ground are more expensive, but are ready for building. The future homeowner is responsible for the expenses to purchase the lot and build the home. It is important to note that home sites on improved ground may have building restrictions such as an exterior finish requirement (i.e. front of home must be finished with brick or stone,) minimum or maximum square footage requirement or a maximum building height requirement. It will be up to the homeowner to check with the local building department for complete information on any possible building restrictions. If you choose a lot on unimproved ground, it is necessary to be aware of the additional expenses you will incur as new homeowner in the neighborhood. Water, electric, and sewer are just a few of the utilities you may be expected to pay a portion or all of the expenses for to bring them into the neighborhood. Other items paid for by the homeowner building on unimproved ground may include sidewalks and streetlights.

When choosing a building site, you may want to consider zoning. Do you like the idea of your lot backing up to common ground? Do you mind if a grocery store is built on the corner of your street? Your local planning office can provide you with a map and information detailing the areas that have been designated as commercial, industrial, and residential. You may be planning to build on a lot zoned as residential ground that would have a back yard view of an open field and a wooded area. But is it possible that a warehouse may be built there 10 years from now because that area is zoned as industrial land? You might have found what you believe is the perfect lot, but taking the time to check the zoning of the property will help ensure that you are building in an area where your new home will increase in property value instead of decrease.

It is often necessary to seek professional advice when choosing a lot. After visiting the planning office, you should contact a civil engineer. For a minimal fee in comparison to the cost of your new home, the civil engineer can test the soil at the home site to make sure you don't end up with unstable land. This person can also determine if the lot will have proper drainage.

Check with a local building official to determine setbacks and easements. These guidelines will tell you how far away your home must be built from the property boundaries on all sides of your lot. This will reduce the area you have on which to build your home and may determine the maximum width and depth of the house plan you select.

Contacting a lawyer and ordering a title search is also important. It is necessary to determine that the person or company selling the property to you has complete ownership of the land. This will ensure that the property will be rightfully yours when you purchase it.

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