If you’re thinking of buying land with a real estate agent, then you have an exciting adventure ahead of you — along with some considerations. Raw land, with the right characteristics, can become the ideal place to plant roots and build a new construction home. Ready to create your private oasis? If so, you should first make sure you can build on the land before making an offer. How do you guarantee that the land you buy can become the future site of your forever home? This guide is intended for beginners looking for a basic guide to checking their own land for homebuilding.
How to Know if Land is Buildable
Check for zoning restrictions.
Before you go into the functional details, you must first figure out if it’s even legal to build a home on a plot of vacant land. Working with a real estate agent will quickly answer your question. Your agent will search for land for you on the MLS, which will be transparent about the undeveloped land’s zoning on its main profile.
Make sure that the land can be used for residential purposes. Many people have been disappointed because they forgot to check local zoning laws before they buy land. Then they find out later that they can’t build a house on it. If you’re browsing prospective areas, you can get a copy of zoning ordinances from your local zoning office, city hall, or local planning board.
Research the soil type.
Not all land has soil that is suitable for a building’s foundation. This is why getting a geotechnical expert to research the land’s soil type is a must before buying. Neglecting this important research can result in foundation issues or being unable to build on the land at all.
Soil types vary from heavy clays to sand — both extremes are bad for building. Clay expands and shrinks, while sandy soils have poor load-bearing capacity. This step ensures that you can build a long-lasting home on your land.
Have a surveyor inspect the land for potential issues.
Not only do you need to check zoning and soil type, but you also need a land survey to determine if the topography is suitable for building. This pro will also inform you of potential issues that could affect construction.
Challenges such as uneven terrain, soil instability, and drainage complications can impede a building’s progress, so it’s important to be aware of them before building your dream home. Not only does this proactive approach contribute to a smoother, more efficient building process, but it also guarantees the long-lasting stability of your custom home.
Are utility hookups available and accessible?
For a home to be buildable, it needs to have basic access to utilities like water, sewage, and electricity. Whether you can access city water or have well water and a septic tank, the future building site must have access to a feasible option. Without these essentials, daily life can become highly challenging and inconvenient.
- Research if it’s possible to get electricity and natural gas (if applicable) to the building site.
- Find out if you can get city water and sewer, or if you need to access well and septic on-site. The costs of installing either of these systems should be figured into the total cost of your future home.
- Order a perc test to determine the soil’s absorption rate for a septic system. This test also determines the maximum amount of bedrooms allowed in the home.
- Do you need internet? Check to make sure that internet access is available. This is especially important to check in rural areas.
Taking these factors into account in the decision-making process is essential for ensuring a comfortable and efficient environment.
Are there any hazards on the property?
Buying raw land with plans to build a home is an extensive process. After you ensure all essential provisions are in place, you must finally check for risks.
- Does the land exist on a flood plain?
- Are there hazardous materials like underground tanks or asbestos-containing materials?
Hidden dangers can lurk due to a land’s long history. A thorough investigation into a property’s past uses, materials, and activities can uncover any potential risks. This will empower you to take steps to remove them or prevent more issues. This is an essential part of due diligence to protect yourself before a land purchase.
Research local building codes before breaking ground.
After the land checks all boxes, you need to ensure that there are no building restrictions standing in the way of your single-family home floor plan and model. Get familiar with all local building code regulations, which include fire codes and building permit regulations, so that you can build a home that complies with local ordinances. These regulations ensure everyone’s safety and help your builder avoid any delays or penalties, ensuring a seamless and compliant construction process.
Learn how to know if land is buildable… or get a builder to do the hard work for you.
If you have a plot of land for a dream home, then one of our builder partners can surely help you after you check the land and ensure it’s good for building. Or, if you want to take an easier path, you can simply talk to a real estate agent who can find you a new construction home that’s already in progress. The land homework is already done, and you can have a dream home in just a few months — or even weeks! However, if you choose to get a new home, doing your research will streamline the home building process and make sure everyone is happy.
Alicia Persson is the the real estate content writer for Marketplace Homes. She has several years of experience working in real estate teams that specialized in investments and property management. Before she joined MH, she was a freelance writer for 7 years, providing real estate and home living content for boutique digital marketing agencies.
She is a proud University of Virginia Masters graduate and enjoyed her undergraduate years at the University of Mary Washington. When she is not writing, she is playing keyboard in a local 90’s band in central Virginia or spending time with her amazing family.