Anyone deciding to buy a lot to build a new home on really needs to consider some important factors which may seem daughting to a novice. If at the end of this article you decide this is the case, you may want to consider looking at some of the builder “spec” inventory that I see across Northern Virginia. Sorry folks, that “spec” inventory is going to start at $1.2 million.
Okay then, back to lot selection criteria.
You will need to put together a plan which should include a budget first and foremost. Then determine what type of house you want to build. You might want to stop reading right now, pick up a pencil (yes, designs change) and sketch it out… but please read on.
While you have that in mind, start a list of locations that will fit the bill. Are there other potential teardowns in a particular up and coming area? Some people want schools, and others want restaurants and coffee shops. What do you want your future lifestyle to look like?
Now that you have sketched out your design, what type of lot is going to fit that house plus give you room for… a yard, a vegetable garden, a swimming pool or a garage for your classic car collection? Do you want a flat lot or one with a slight incline? I ask because some people want a deck while others want a slate patio with a sitting wall or built-in gas grille.
The width of your lot is going to be an important factor too because you will need to be within county set back rules. And in some places like the Town of Vienna Virginia where I live, your house and driveway can only cover 25% of your lot. Keep that in mind too.
I think you’ll need a bigger lot
Who is going to build your dream house? That is going to be worth investigating now because you may find someone who already builds a floor plan close to what you want and using their existing plan can save you design fees. And the builder may tell you how big a lot is needed to fit your dream home. By the way, most builders like it when you already own the lot.
Deciding on a lot that doesn’t have public water or sewer is going to add to your expenses too. Remember that sewer systems still depend on gravity so they will need a proper pitch.
If you are looking at infill properties like where you will tear down an older house, you need to consider the sewer that is in the street. Your new sewer lateral really needs to go all the way out into the street to avoid a future issue. Plus, some basements can be too deep and require a sewage ejection pit/system. That’s a topic for another day.
One of the great unknowns is what lies beneath the soil. There could be a rock ledge, sandy soil or a spring (See “Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House – 1948“). Anyway, you may want to watch that old film for some corny pointers.
There are many factors that go into lot selection and sometimes it comes down to simple things like exposure to the sun, but at the end of your project, I know that you want a house that exceeds that vision you have today.