Choosing the right lot of land is very important in order to build the house of your dreams. Check out these 10 land features that can influence your choice. They can also save you money when buying or building.
1. Land topography
The terrain may be flat, descending or ascending. The opposite side of the lot can be higher or lower than the street level.
When the terrain has these slopes, a good construction project needs to take advantages of natural changes in the levels to avoid taking out or bringing large volumes of land. It is this movement of land that makes the project more expensive. As it is also necessary to think through sewage and rainwater drains. And this can be rather costly!
On the other hand, if a new house is built on a flat lot, this usually costs less. Such projects are often more simple to accomplish and, at the end become very nice and picturesque if the construction is well done.
Generally, in order to build on an uneven surface, any house will require some sort of stairs. So, if you would like to have a single-story house, think twice, before you invest.
2. Type of soil
As humans do not have x-ray vision it is difficult to know if the terrain will allow building with more simple and not expensive foundation. Or if it will be required to spend more time and money on this step on the project.
To make sure what kind of foundation is required for the selected lot, you will need to hire a specialist company for a piece of work that will profile the terrain. This survey will demonstrate the type and levels of soil and will recommend the necessary type of foundation for this specific construction lot.
If you are thinking about ordering this study, please note the following:
- if there are many stones on the surface of the lot, you will probably need to make a deeper and more expensive foundation;
- if there is proximity to rivers or water creeks, pipes and streams, know that flooded soils will also increase costs of the foundation.
You can also ask the neighbors what type of foundation they have used to build their houses.
The above hints will help you get an idea about the type of soil, but none of them will be able to give absolute certainty. It is still worth hiring a soil survey service when acquiring land for your future house. And it makes sense to do this before starting the construction project.
3. Position to the sun
When choosing the terrain, see where the sun rises and where it sets. It is best to have the main room windows facing the sunrise. Then see if the facade of the future house, facing the rising sun has an open area in front of it. Or it is facing a tall building that will be shading your future dream house.
See also if there is an empty piece of construable land next to your lot that could if used for construction in the future, steal your sun.
4. Location and neighbors
We are all concerned with the ease of access to terrain and the infrastructure (transport, services, commercials, etc.). But sometimes we tend to forget things that can cause discomfort. Imagine you want to sleep and there is loud noise coming from a nearby nightclub?
Or wanting to get home, but not being able to, as your house or apartment is located near a large event pavilion, which happened to host an event tonight and the access is blocked?
Before choosing the terrain for construction and deciding to make a purchase, always go around the neighborhood. Visit the terrain at different times, including in the evening and during the weekend.
5. Construction regulations
Beware of very narrow terrains. In general, you are obliged to leave part of your terrain empty on the edges. That is, you can not occupy the entire width of the terrain.
Another potential regulation is that houses also need to have a minimum distance from each other. This is often 3 meters on each side. That is your house will need to be 3 meters from the edge of your property and your neighbor’s house needs to be 3 meters from the edge as well. This leaves 6 meters between two houses.
Check your local legislation and what are specific constraints in your municipality.
In general, the width of the front of the lot is valued higher and corresponds to 30% of the price of the lots. The wider the front, the more expensive the lot will be. If it is a corner lot, it will be more expensive as well. A corner lot allows for more design options, more sunshine, and better ventilation.
Although a corner lot is usually more expensive, the price difference may be worth it because you will be able to take better advantage of the terrain.
6. Zoning and limitations of zoning
Zoning rules divide each the city into areas and determine what can be built in each of the zones. Only residence buildings, private houses, commerce, industry or mixed zones? Zoning also defines the number of floors that can be built and how much ground can be occupied in each of the zones, and how much needs to be left unoccupied.
A Realtor can help you identify zoning of the land. Or you can ask for an information card in the City Hall. If it is a condominium lot, check the conditions that are imposed on constructing condominiums.
7. Is there native forest on the lot?
See if the terrain has many trees on it. If you would want to remove some of the trees in order to build the house, check in the City Hall if that land has restrictions. Native trees are protected by various laws.
You will need to apply for a license if you want to cut them. And such a license is usually given for a certain duration of time, so you will need to do the cutting during the allocated time window only.
Or, maybe it would be best to plan the construction without knocking down any of the trees. It is often possible to design a project in which nature is well integrated with the new house.
There are also environmental preservation sites and parks that cannot be cleared from trees. Houses often cannot be built on the riverside, close to the water stream. These areas must be left without any construction. Do your research and find out.
8. Infrastructure and services
Make sure the terrain you are considering has access to electricity, water supply, sewage, and natural gas. Take a look at whether the streets are paved. See if the area is served by public transportation. Is there a hospital nearby? Are there supermarkets, bakery, pharmacy, school and other services that you find important?
Constructing in more infrastructure-rich areas increases the cost of the land. At the same time, it can give you a better quality of life and even save you time and money in the long run, for example, when you decide to sell your property.
9. Documentation is a must-read!
To choose the land, make sure there is no problem with the documentation of the property. Request the current land title certificate (usually issued by the Real Estate Registry Office) to find out if the situation is regular and there are no unpleasant surprises attached.
It is also important to ask for the certificates of lack of civil action against the property, law enforcement, tax, and federal obligations of the landlord and the spouse. These documents will indicate whether there are actions against the landowner that involve the land being sold, or under other obligations.
For example, if the landlord bought this land as a bachelor (and this is noted in the property certificate) and now he is married, this needs to be reflected. He will need to provide the certificate of the spouse and update his marital status in the property registry. This is technically called “marriage registration” and needs to be done with the Registry Office of Real Estate.
If you are buying the terrain from a legal entity, you will have to request the certificate that this piece of land is not under any debt obligations with this company.
10. What is your dream house?
Once you have evaluated all of the above, be very clear about what your dream house should be. Imagining the type of house you want to build, and all its details is very important when choosing the land.
What is important to you? Do you want a lot of free space? Or you want a house that is well fit into the lot and has many rooms? Do you want to save on the purchase of the land or save on the construction work? Where in the city do you want to live? Or, maybe you prefer the countryside? Go through the thinking beforehand. This will make it much easier to find the piece of land you want and to build the house you are dreaming of.
Happy shopping! Do not forget that hiring an architect for your project is a must!