Before you can begin to design your new custom home the first, and probably most time consuming, project is to locate and purchase your property. Until you have chosen your site, you will not know your lot's topography, direction of access or location of views and obstructions. In order to design your home right, you must first know your site. This will ensure that your home fits your site as well as your budget and your lifestyle.
When looking at various pieces of property it's important to consider these three issues.
- Is the site workable for your project?
- What is the availability of southern (solar) exposure to the building site? With rising utility costs, we feel it's important to have property that allows you to site your house to take advantage of the sun to naturally light and heat your home, even if only partially.
- Does this piece of property appeal to you?
It's important to have looked at enough pieces of land to feel confident that the piece you are choosing is the best one for you. Once you have located the piece of property that you want to buy, we suggest you negotiate a price with the seller and sign a purchase agreement with a contingency. The final purchase should be contingent upon your approval of the preliminary title report and your builder’s assessment of buildability. You would then have the legal option to cancel the sale for any reason without explanation after reviewing the title report and talking with us. This would allow you time to check out the property carefully and to make sure it will meet your needs. If the seller is not interested in allowing you a contingency, there may be something he doesn't want you to know.
The following worksheet will guide you when choosing property. We hope that it gives you the information so that you feel confident in your ultimate choice of land.
Address/Location of the property
Size of Property
Date property put on market
What are the land taxes?
Are these likely to increase?
Zoning of neighboring properties
Are there any special provisions or codes that could prevent you from building what you want?
If so, is it possible to get a variance?
What are the setback restrictions?
Topography - Is the lot an upslope, down slope, or level?
Could the slope limit buildability?
Is the slope going to add to the building cost?
Are there any easements on the property?
If so, where?
Do these easements restrict your building site?
Will you need any easements for roads or utilities in order to access or build on your land?
If so, are they possible to obtain?
(Make any purchase agreement contingent on obtaining these easements)
Is the property in a flood zone or have drainage problems?
If so, what are the building restrictions?
Is the title free and without liens or complications?
If no, what is the nature of the complications and can they be cleared?
Name of Title Company
Results of preliminary title report
Are the values of the neighboring land and houses comparable or higher than your planned project?
Are there any local bond issues
Are there any building moratoriums in the area?
Are there any special restrictions due to fire regulations?
Is fire insurance available? (Mortgage companies require this)
Is there a homeowner's association and if so do you have any restrictions?
If so, what?
Are there membership fees?
Is there an architectural review board that will need to approve your design?
If so, what are their requirements?
Are there covenants?
Do you have a copy of them?
Can the property be subdivided?
If so, what are the regulations?
Who owns the neighboring properties and what are their plans for their land?
Are there any improvements on the land? (Well, roads, utilities, septic, buildings, etc.)
Who will maintain your access road?
Any fees to do so?
Are there any special uses for the road (transport of hazardous materials)?
Is snow removal available?
Is there a cost?
Is refuse pick up available?
Is there a cost?
Is newspaper delivery available?
How and where is mail delivered?
How much will it cost to bring electricity to the property?
Is underground electrical service available?
Is natural gas needed?
Is it available?
How much will it cost to bring it to the property?
How much will it cost to bring a telephone line to the property?
How long will it take once ordered?
What are the soil conditions?
Are there any special insect conditions on the property? (Termites)
Have there been burglaries in the area?
Is a septic system necessary?
If so are there any restrictions as to the type of system used?
What is the cost of installing the necessary system?
What are the features about property that you like?
What are the features about property you don't like?