Monday, September 30, 2013

Tips on buying land to build your custom home

Looking to buy a lot to build a custom home?

If you are looking to buy a piece of vacant land to build a custom home there are several things that you need to know that should affect the cost of the lot, the cost of building the home and the size and shape of the home that you will be able to construct.

Vacant property comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but there are some key things you should be aware of when looking at them. Here are a few of the more important ones;

Location. You have probably heard the real estate slogan Location, Location, Location. This rings true with vacant land. The cost of the lot will be directly related to where the lot is situated.

Depending on the township or municipality the lot is located in, it will directly affect the cost of the building and development fees. These fees can be as low as a couple of thousand dollars or in certain places it can be over 30 thousand dollars for a normal house building permit.

Rural lots will have more privacy but pose some challenges. You need to supply your own water, septic system and there will probably be no access to natural gas. City lots that are serviced may come with a sewer and water connection fee when you plan to build your home that will be above the cost of the building permit.

Certain areas are protected areas. They can have building restrictions that will make it harder to build on the property, it can limit the size, shape, height and also the look or style of the home you want to construct.

Lot size, shape and topography. When your looking at property to build a custom home you need to understand that not all properties are created equal. The lay of the land will play a lot into what you build.

If you want a walkout basement then you should be looking for property that has a grade sloping away from where you want to place the house and towards where you want the house to face. Depending on how deep your basement is going to be will be affected by the slope of the land. Too steep of a lot and you are living on a hill which is not enjoyable, too flat and you will have to pay to bring in fill to grade up to the house to create the walkout basement.

Make sure the property is big enough for your requirements. If you want a large home with many out buildings then you are going to want a larger piece of property that isn’t going to look crowded when you have them all constructed. There are percentage limits on land, you are only allowed to cover a certain percentage of the property with buildings, this will vary depending on what municipality you are in.

Odd shaped lots can be a waste of space, they can force you into building a home that is not the size or shape that you want. You could end with setback problems and have no room for out buildings or decks.

Warning signs to look out for when buying vacant land,  here are some simple things to look for when you are touring through vacant land.

If the lot looks like it is in a low lying area then you could have a problem with ground water. This could affect whether you are able to have a full basement and if you will have flooding or water infiltration problems.

Where is the power? It costs money to bring electricity to your property. If you buy land on a road that doesn’t have a power line yet then you could end up spending thousands of dollars to have the local utility install poles and string power lines down the road.

What shape is the road in? In rural areas some roads that have little or no residences on them are not maintained by the municipality. If this is the case and the road is smaller than the new standards then you will be forced to pay to have the road re-built to township or county standards, you will have to do this before you are issued a building permit. This can cost up to a 100,000 dollars! Once you have the road built to there standards then the municipality will maintain it for you.

Check to see if you have a cell signal on your phone. This is a simple way to tell if you have the ability to have internet. Not all rural lots have access to internet.

Look at the neighbouring properties and see where on them the houses are built, how they are built, the style they are built and how long ago they were built. The style of the home will affect the end cost of building them.

These are just some of the things that you need to be aware of when you are looking to buy vacant land to build your dream custom home.

It would be a good idea if you were to hire the general contractor that you want to build your home to look with you. For a small consulting fee most contractors are happy to do this for you.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.


  1. I had no idea that the location could make the cost of building go up. I'll be sure to check and make sure I don't have to pay extra fees on my plot. Thank you for the tips.

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