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Tips for Buying Land to Build a New Home

tips for buying land to build a new home

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Published date:

October 23, 2019

Last updated date:

October 23, 2019

By Manny Manriquez

When searching for a home for your family, you have two options- buy land that already has a house on it or build a house on an empty plot of land.  Building is certainly more rewarding and can ensure that you get a home that suits your specifications, but it is also a lot of work. This can help you remodel your home in a way that you desire. You’ll want to be careful about the kind of land you get and how it will work with your needs. The wrong piece of land can add a tremendous amount of work. With that in mind, we have compiled a few tips to help you purchase the right kind of land for building your home on. 

Consider the slope of the land

The renovation and building experts at Houseace advise, “A piece of land that has too much of an incline can be difficult to build on. It may require excavating to even out, and a retaining wall might need to be constructed to keep the land from sliding. Once you build a house on a sloping piece of land, there is a chance that the weight of the house will cause the slope to deteriorate. In order to prevent that from happening, a lot of work has to be done to the land.” This can get incredibly expensive, with retaining walls costing anywhere between $3,000 and $8,000.

Factor in the surrounding area

Looking at a piece of land to build on, you might just be thinking about how your house will look on that land and how you will enjoy the yard space. However, you might forget to consider the surrounding area. Have you thought about how well you will get along with the neighbors or how loud the surrounding neighborhood can become at night or during holidays?  If the land is out in the country, you might want to consider the hassle of having to drive long distances for groceries, gas and other necessities. Your distance from a school, hospital and other institutions may be of concern as well.   If the land is in an urban area, you might be concerned about crime, pollution, parking and other problems you wouldn’t have to face in a rural setting. Northern Virginia Home Pro also advise to “Consider rent prices into the equation. Take all of your surroundings into consideration before you buy a piece of land to build on. These factors can contribute to the buying decision and to how you build your house.

Look at the zoning requirements

You may have a house plan already detailed in your mind, but sometimes when dreams meet reality, the two of them don’t get along so well. There might be some strict zoning requirements that you have to take into account that are going to impede your dream house plans. Zoning rules may limit how close to the road you can build, how tall your house can be, what kind of rooms you can make on the house, and much more. You may find yourself faced with a lot of restrictions that drastically affect the way you can build. On top of that, you may have local community guidelines you have to follow, especially if you live in a subdivision. You may have to sign an agreement that restricts the color of your house, how high your hedges can be and whether you are allowed to build a fence around your property. 

Check for access to utilities

Electricity and running water should be standard utilities for wherever you want to build, but not all parts of the country are equally developed. You may have some issues in getting a sewer line, water or current out to where you plan to build your house. It may be possible to bring these into an area that doesn’t have them yet, but it could be costly, and you may have to pay for it yourself.

Get specifics on the loan

If you are planning to take out a loan to build on the land, then you should talk to the bank about that process and specifically about building on that plot of land. The requirements for a loan may change depending on where you build. The bank may be aware of restrictions and added costs that you are not for that particular area. Once you talk to the bank, they will be able to give you an estimate of the size of loan you could get and what restrictions might apply.  You are more likely to get a loan or to get a sizable loan if your land has easy access to a roadway and there are other houses in the area.  If you’re planning on doing the land and building loan together then you may need to get estimates for building ahead of going to the bank. 

Learn the local hazards

Every piece of land comes with its challenges. Some that you might not be on the lookout for, though, are environmental hazards. The risk of bushfires, flooding, hurricanes and other dangers may not be apparent right away. It helps to talk to someone who is familiar with the area and who can give you an unbiased report of what kind of dangers you should be aware of. These natural catastrophe risks don’t necessarily mean that you have to find somewhere else to build. You may just need to make some modifications to your building plans to protect yourself against them. 


We hope these help you as you prepare to purchase land to build on. You are entering an exciting time in your life where you have the opportunity to create a home that could for years, but you want to make sure you are taking all relevant factors into consideration first. 

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