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Tips to Build on Your Lot

K. Hovnanian Homes - Buckeye, AZ

A stacked stone fireplace is one of many distinctive touches in this new home from K. Hovnanian Homes in Buckeye, Arizona.

For many homebuyers, the allure of selecting land and building a new home is compelling – and understandably so.

Many buyers have a vision of their dream home that includes the land their home will rest on, as well as the design and construction of their ideal home.

When you speak to homeowners who’ve had the opportunity to build on their lot, most will tell you that selecting a favorite piece of land and then designing and building a home that fully leverages the unique topography and views of the lot is a deeply rewarding experience.

Given that, it's not surprising that people often start their new home journey with a piece of land they’re considering buying. If you’re such a homebuyer, step one – ideally, before you purchase land – should be a careful assessment of the feasibility and cost to build on that parcel of land.

Many people are attracted to undeveloped and remote areas – and such land can be beautiful. If you have your eye on ridge-top land with commanding views located far from power lines, you and a building professional with expertise in build on your lot homes should give thought to the feasibility and the cost of creating what builders refer to as a buildable lot.

Break Ground Without Breaking the Bank.

To the untrained eye, a lot or parcel of land may appear to be easily buildable, but prove not to be. More than one land lover has learned the hard way that ignorance can be expensive, but knowledge is power.

Especially if you’re in the market for land in remote or less-developed areas, it’s wise to consult an experienced builder with local knowledge and strong build-on-your-lot expertise. Inviting a builder to become a part of your land search process can help you avoid more difficult lots and save you money – both on the purchase price of the property and by helping you better understand, in advance, the cost to turn land into a buildable lot.

According to experts at David Weekley Homes, it can be surprising (and not readily apparent to a homebuyer) how much additional site work may be required to make a particular lot buildable. David Weekley Homes builds in 18 cities nationally. As the recipient of awards that include The National Builder of the Year, America's Best Builder, and the National Housing Quality Award, their expertise overall and in building on your lot is strong.

It’s Also Wise to Consider The Lot Carefully, Even in More Developed Areas.

If you’re considering buying an improved lot in an existing new home community, you can probably skip past issues of access to electricity, natural gas, water and sewer connections – since those will likely be in place. However, even in this case, some homework done with an experienced builder will also pay off.

For example, one site may require a foundation for your home supported by below-ground piers. Another site may require extensive excavation work, which can run into thousands of dollars. And there are other considerations as well, including a complete understanding of the easements, zoning laws, property line restrictions, and architecture guidelines and review processes.

The good news? Many build-on-your-lot buyers find few issues to resolve with a prospective lot, but doing your homework in advance is nonetheless wise. So, now you have a great lot or piece of land that fits your needs and budget. What comes next?

Designing a Home That Works Well on Your Lot.

Many build on your lot firms have extensive libraries of floorplans; one of these existing plans may be ideal for your taste, budget and the land you select. In other cases, you may want to modify an existing home plan to better reflect the unique character of your lot – to take advantage of views, work around mature trees you seek to retain, or perhaps to benefit from passive solar heat gain.

While many homebuyers find that an existing home plan or a modified version of a plan will work well for their needs and lot, other buyers may wish to invest in a custom home plan drawn from scratch, to more fully reflect their design goals for their home and the unique topography of their land.

Four Things to Look for in a Build on Your Lot Builder.

When looking for a build on your lot builder, here are four things to consider:

  1. Choose a builder with strong experience in building on a customer’s land. Many builders specialize in building on improved lots in master-planned communities that already have the infrastructure in place (water, gas, electrical, sewer, etc.). Other builders specialize in building on land that requires improvement. Some builders do both. Make sure your builder has strong build on your lot expertise.
  2. Select a builder that offers a variety of floor plans and can adapt a floor plan to the topography of your lot.
  3. Choose a builder that has enough buying power to ensure you receive the best prices for high quality goods. Such savings are passed on to the homebuyer, including purchase price of appliances, light fixtures, and flooring. Consider working with a builder that has a design center where you can choose and coordinate your cabinetry and other options.
  4. Pick a builder that will stand behind and service the home. Make sure the builder has a good warranty program, which typically should include a ten year warranty on certain aspects of the structural integrity of the home.

Leading Build On Your Lot Builders Offer Valuable Insights and Advice.

Many building firms offer structured build on your lot programs. Paul Schumacher Homes is a leading on your lot custom builder in 32 cities and 14 states across the nation.

Winner of the 2011 National Housing Quality Award, Schumacher has built more than 8,000 homes in the last 20 years. About half of their buyers already own land – for those buyers, Schumacher offers a free home site evaluation that includes the positioning of your home on the lot, a review of trees that can be retained or cleared and a review of utilities available.

At Jimmy Jacobs Custom Homes in Austin, Texas, their build on your lot program consists of five steps: Individual Lot Assistance; Home Placement Consultation; Architectural Design Planning; Interior Design Selection and Personal Custom Builder Support.

Regardless of the builder you select, be realistic with your time expectations. While a home can be built in 90-100 days, a custom built home on one's own lot can reasonably take six months or longer.

It’s All Worth It.

Living where you want, on land you may have dreamed about for years, has become an essential part of the American dream. In a culture that values individuality and self-expression, more people are opting to buy their land first, and then building a custom or semi-custom home.

By hiring a builder with a strong build on your lot program, homebuyers can save money as well as the hassle of hiring their own architect and general contractor. Build on your lot builders will assist you with site evaluations, floorplans, permits, coordination, construction, and in some cases, even financing.

Ready for the next step? Take advantage of the build on your lot search option here on NewHomeSource.com. With far more builders and new homes than any other website, you’ve found the world’s largest new home resource. 

Jay McKenzie heads up content and social media for NewHomeSource.com and Builders Digital Experience. You can find him on Google+.
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