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What to Look for When Buying Land

Use this checklist to make sure you find the right piece of property for your timber home.


Photo: fotolia.com/leochen66
 
The location of your home will affect everything, from the cost of the land to the homeowners insurance to the eventual assessed value of your home. Once you’ve narrowed down your search to a few potential sites, think about these things before signing on the dotted line.
 
You need to know the lay of the land to plan your home right. Is the terrain suitable for the style of home you want to build? A site map will explain the traits, benefits and challenges of your proposed building site. If the land is undeveloped, you may also need a topographical survey. Your township or county zoning office can supply you with information about easements, utilities and environmental considerations. The natural features of the landscape, along with the location of utilities, should be indicated on the site map.
 

A remote location sounds ideal, but think carefully about the distance to amenities. Travel times to work, school, stores and healthcare are important to consider before making a decision. Also, homes that are too far from a fire department will pay more for fire insurance — a common complaint from homeowners who have built an expensive home far from adequate fire protection.
 
The property should pass a “perc test.” A perc test indicates the soil’s capability to absorb liquid over a specific period of time, and determines the size and type of septic system you’ll need. If it doesn’t pass, you may not be able to build on it or a more expensive system to handle waste treatment will have to be installed. You’ll also need a source of potable (drinkable) water. In rural areas, this typically means drilling a well. If you’re building closer to developed areas and are lucky enough to tap into public utilities, you can bypass these steps.
 

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