Realizing Your Dream Home: Four Essential Factors in Deciding Where to Build
Which came first, the lot or the house plans? This chicken-and-egg dilemma has stumped many a homeowner. We recommend choosing a lot first, since this will help you tailor your new home to its location. Below, we list important factors you should consider when choosing a lot for your dream home plan.
1. Scope out the building site.
No reputable builder would agree to construct house plans on an unseen lot, and neither should you. Here’s a basic list of characteristics to consider as you search house plans and acreage listings:
Geography. Is the lot sloped? If so, your home plan can make use of otherwise wasted lower-level space, perhaps with a daylight basement or additional storage area. (Search house plans for “sloping lot”.) If the lot is lower than surrounding homes, it will likely require in-fill, which can cost a pretty penny. Geography also influences nearby drainage, which is absolutely crucial when locating house plans. During a storm, even an innocuous-looking slope can turn into a delivery chute for tons of eroding soil. Cliffs, mountainsides and other precarious locations are wonderful for views, but they often require significant expense (and insurance protection) over flat lots.
Flora. If the lot under consideration is covered with trees, for instance, you’ll need to consider how you’ll remove them, and how your home plan will complement them.
Soil. Don’t just look on top of the surface – dive underground to truly understand the long-term stability of each potential lot. Does the area have a high water table? If so, you could be dealing with regular flooding. Is the soil where your dream house will be built firm enough for construction?
2. Consider the local conditions.
As you search house plans, you may also be selecting between different climate conditions. For instance, if you’re thinking of either a mountain or oceanside home, you should be aware that each of these locations differs widely in terms of air and weather conditions. A forest home, for example, should have a metal roof so as to protect against wildfires spurred by pine needles. A home plan for a seaside location, on other hand, will benefit from an extra-thick foundation and low-maintenance siding, such as vinyl or aluminum.
The bottom line is that you need to know the lot well. Walk the entire lot at different times of day. Think about things like where the driveway will go and which way the home will face. Spending time on the lot itself will likely bring to mind other issues you’ll need to address in your house plans.
3. Gather consultants’ input.
As you search house plans and potential lots, it makes sense to get advice from construction experts. Your builder will have a list of references for you to consult with, including geotechnical (soil) engineers, zoning experts and drainage gurus.
4. Don’t skimp on lot selection.
You may be tempted to skimp on the cost of your land so you can spend more money building the house itself. Don’t. The cost of altering an unsuitable lot is likely to be more expensive than purchasing land that can support your needs and dreams.
Note: The home shown above is The Seligman House Plan 2443.