How to Determine if a Lot is Suitable for Building

It’s difficult to notice problems with a building lot during the summer when it is covered with grass, bushes and trees. Wait until late autumn or winter when everything is bare. You will see the actual outline of the landscape and whether the greenery was hiding anything, such as low areas that fill with water when it rains.

There are some other things that you, your architect, or your attorney should do when deciding if a lot is suitable for building your home:

Clean Title – Check at city hall for any current liens against the property. Consider hiring a title company to research the title’s history.

Building Sites – Make sure there are at least two suitable sites for building a home. If an unforeseen problem should prevent your first choice site, you can always implement Plan B. For example, a septic system can only be installed on land that passes a drainage test, called a PERC test. If you only have one suitable place for building and the land in that section has poor drainage, you’re out of luck.

Utility Easements – A property can have easements on all four sides. Your home must be a specified distance from the road and from the side boundaries of the property, which is usually a utilities easement.

Access Easement – If your lot adjoins a piece of property without road access, then your land probably has an access easement allowing the other property owner to reach his land. Consider the access road when choosing an ideal location for your home.

Terrain – If you want a home with a basement, then ask an architect to check the quality of the soil. It must be sufficiently compacted to support the weight of a two- or three-story building. Otherwise, the soil could settle unevenly and cause foundation or building integrity problems.

Once you are satisfied that a piece of land meets your needs, then it is time to build the home of your dreams.