If you're in the market for a new home and just can't seem to find what you want, building your own home may be sounding better and better to you. While you will have to wait longer to move in and will have to make dozens of decisions, from the shingles on the roof to the flooring in the basement and everything in between, the home will truly be yours when the contractors are finished. Of course, the first purchasing decision you will have to make is the lot. Here is a look at three things to keep in mind looking at lots for sale.
1. Make Sure The Land Is Buildable
Not all land that is listed for sale can be easily built on. You may see a well-priced parcel with rolling hills, but those quaint hills may be quite expensive to raze and create a level building site. There may be land use restrictions that make it unsuitable, such as the property is a designated wetland. Even if it doesn't look wet right now, it may develop vernal ponds in the spring that have been deemed important for migrating birds or other wildlife.
Or, the land may not perc, which means it doesn't pass the percolation test, required to put in a septic system. Perhaps finding water on the property is unlikely or the parcel is landlocked and requires an easement access. The landowning adjacent neighbor may be alright with the current owners hiking in to hunt a few weeks a year but building a road and house may be a different story altogether.
2. Does The Land Have Covenants?
If you're more interested in sticking close to town and building in a subdivision rather than buying several acres in the country, be aware there are likely covenants, conditions, and restrictions. These rules are generally imposed by a Home Owner's Association (HOA), which is often the property owner and developer. Some people appreciate the covenants, such as homes cannot have junk cluttering up their yards. This protects your property value and prevents blight. However, other restrictions, such as not being able to paint your home red or have a small flock of backyard chickens, may not be as pleasing. Additionally, many HOAs have additional fees to consider on top of your mortgage, insurance, and utilities.
3. Visit City Hall
If you think you have found your own little slice of paradise in a perfect rural location that's not too far from civilization, don't sign the dotted line just yet. You first want to know about any zoning restrictions. For example, if a big part of buying rural land is that it's always been your dream to have a miniature farm, you need to make sure this would be allowed. You also want to make sure that the surrounding countryside wasn't recently sold, and a developer is busy divvying it up into a subdivision or getting ready to break ground on a big box store.