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Crucial Things You Should Know When Building on your Own Lot

When you own an empty land lot, you possess a blank canvas that allows you to build and customize the home that you want.

Do you want to plant trees around it? How about a large, rustic backyard? Building on your own lot provides you with the freedom you won't have when renting a property. As long as your land doesn't have any issues with proper building conditions or is not zoned off, you can make your dream home a reality.

Furthermore, when you start building your dream house on your land, you immediately raise the value of the lot. Even road construction that provides access to your lot can appreciate your undeveloped land.

Different elements, however, may affect not just your home's construction but your future lifestyle as well.

Factors You Should Consider When Building on your Own Lot

The increasing competition and the rising cost of land influence the dwindling average lot size in the United States. An 18.3 percent square footage drop from 2009 to 2018 brought down the medial lot size from 10,994 to 8,982 square feet. So you are fortunate to have land of your own these days.

However, it is best to consider certain factors to ensure that it is safe for you and your family to build a house on.

1. Compliance with Zoning Laws

New York was the first city to adopt a zoning ordinance in 1916, dividing the municipality into different districts or zones, namely, residential, commercial, and industrial. Zoning makes towns and cities a better place to live in, at the same time preserving property value. These laws also ensure that commercial and industrial operations experience no interference as they conduct their businesses.

Some of the restrictions that a zoning ordinance enforce are:

  • Limitations on the number of dwelling units
  • Number of buildings in a particular lot
  • Parking spaces
  • Fencing and landscaping

Zoning can also restrict areas to having single-family or multi-family homes only.

Keep in mind that zoning laws may be different for each locality. You'll need to check any zoning restrictions in the area where your land sits to prevent any delays in building your home. You can check your local public library, offices of the mayor, or city attorney to find specific zoning laws and ordinances in your area.

2. Overall Condition of the Land

Soil engineer testing the condition of the land

The most significant land hazards include earthquake activity, landslide, and expansive soils. Expansive soils alone cause considerable risk to any property type, expanding when it becomes wet and shrinking when it dries up. As a result, houses can heave and shift unevenly, compromising their foundations.

Soil testing and property evaluations can help check if your property is safe to build a house on. Soil engineers can analyze the soil and subsurface conditions, providing recommendations on a specific drainage system and foundation design when constructing your home.

3. General Land Terrain and Property Grading

Slope, elevation, and lot orientation determine the quality of terrain that your land has. Any issues with the landscape can cause additional overhead expenses on your construction project. If you choose to ignore these conditions, you can end up with costly repairs for your home in the future.

Property grading is a crucial factor you need to consider before building your house. If your lot is on a terrible slope or elevation, you'll need property grading to reshape and level your land. A leveled ground is not only aesthetically pleasing but can also prevent rainwater from seeping into your home's foundation.

The quality of land terrain is not easy to detect. However, hiring an experienced home builder can help evaluate the property for you and give recommendations on the best way to fix any issues. 

4. Location concerning Wetlands and Flood Zones

You can't quickly tell by visual inspection if your area is prone to flooding. Fortunately, you can check online via the Map Service Center from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to see if your property is in a zone at risk of flooding.

As FEMA noted, you're five times more likely to experience flooding as opposed to fire in the next 30 years when living in an area with a low to moderate flood risk. It's crucial to determine if your lot is in a flood zone to prepare for additional expenses in mitigating risks.

Any lot that's in a flood zone will have to undergo significant adjustments to make it livable. You will need to bear the additional cost of separate flood insurance since most homeowners' policy doesn't cover flood damage. You also need to be aware of specific state and federal laws that govern building a house within a wetland or flood zone.

5. Cost to Develop the Land

Future homeowner calculating the cost to build a house

The cost to clear land to prepare for construction varies depending on what needs removal. The more issues with terrain and grading, the higher the cost to develop your land. Expenses on lot clearing and grubbing typically fall within the range of $500 to $5,600 per acre. They usually include the following:

  • Removing trees and shrubs
  • Taking out debris and rocks
  • Sculpting existing soil with heavy machinery

If your lot is on a hillside, you'll need to allocate more budget for topsoil stripping and excavation. You'll also have to transport the dirt excavated from your property to a clean-fill dumpsite.

6. Payment for Property Taxes

Preparing for a property tax when building a new house is different when you purchase a pre-built home. You'll need to acquaint yourself with the complexities, especially since they vary from municipality to municipality.

A municipality assessor can provide you the exact value of your property, allowing you to prepare for the property taxes. However, your home builder can offer excellent advice in estimating your property tax beforehand. They can even provide you with an overview of how your taxes may change after your home construction is complete.

Make Your Home Building a Lot Simpler

When you consider these factors, you prepare yourself better before taking a plunge into building your dream home on your lot. An experienced home builder offers expert tips beyond these factors that can save you time and money in your construction project.

Enlist Oberer Homes to develop your land and build the house that you desire.

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