Actually, the whole process starts with finding the right piece of property to build your new home on.
This might sound like the easy part, but if you don't know what you are looking for you could end up costing yourself a lot of time and stress in the future.
There are several things that you should be looking at when you are trying to find a piece of property to build a new custom home on:
What people don't realize is that zoning can affect everything that you want to do on the property. If the zoning is not what you require for the house that you want to build, or the accessory buildings you would like to construct or if you want to run some sort of business from your home then you will have to go through a zoning change. This change of zoning is done through the municipality and can sometimes take a long time, especially if there is any opposition to what you have proposed. If you are worried about what the property has been zoned you could simply call the municipality that the property is located in and they will explain to you the zoning restrictions that exist on the property.
Conservation authorities have control over area's that are usually environmentally significant or sensitive. They also control flood plain area's. Conservation authorities usually will not outright restrict you from building but they will have a say in were you build the house, the specifications of the septic system and if you are able to build ponds or other features. Certain businesses can be also restricted by them to protect ground source water for the entire area.
These commissions are put in place to protect area's that are at risk of over development, have species at risk or places that are environmentally sensitive. These commissions are under no obligation to approve your building plans in a timely manner and will have a say in the shape, size, positioning and height of your new home. These commissions can not only cost you time (waiting for approvals) but they can cost you money. They usually do not have fee's for their services but they can demand that you plant trees, build berms or put up protective fencing depending on the ecosystem in the immediate area.
They can also be against businesses that are run from your home that do not fall into their mandate.
These are the distances that you are allowed to build from property lines, ponds, septic systems, roads, ditches or other hazardous area's. These setbacks can affect were you set the house on the property, the shape of the house and the size of the house. This also affects accessory buildings that you might want to build at a later date.
This will affect what kind of house you build. If the property is hilly then you might want to consider a walkout basement. If there is a distant view then you might want to set your home on the highest point for the best view. If you have low area's that are prone to getting wet then you might want to avoid building the home there. If the property is very steep then you might find it difficult to play with your kids or add additional out buildings.
Availability Of Services
If you have access to natural gas, or municipal water or municipal sewers this will affect the budget for your new home. If you require geothermal for heating because there is no natural gas or if you require a well or a septic system then that limits the area's where your house can be placed. For every service you don't have, you will be required to make room for something else on your own property. Compensating for the lack of services can be expensive up front.
Taxes and Development Fees
Some vacant land requires that you pay taxes when you pruchase it, especially if it's an undeveloped piece of property. These taxes depending on where you live can be as high as 15% of the purchase price.
If there isn't an existing home or building on the property then you could be subject to large development fees that will cut into your overall house budget. Today municipalities are charging about 8 to 10 times the cost of the building permit for said development fees.
Whatever you end up buying you are going to want to know everything that you can about the property. This will save you from wasting time and money on things in the future instead of spending that time having the home built.