So, you’ve decided to build a custom home. What comes next? Typically, once you’ve made the decision to build, you start looking for the perfect place for your luxury home. Inspecting, selecting, and purchasing an untouched plot of land is definitely intimidating. That’s why it’s so important to know the basics before you start your search.

First and foremost: you don’t have to fend for yourself.

When selecting a lot for your new home, you don’t have to go it alone. It is highly recommended that you choose a custom home builder early on and involve them in the lot selection process. Their knowledge of the area, experience with selecting a lot, and of course, their guidance can save you all kinds of time, trouble, and money later on down the road.

Purchasing a plot of land is a major investment, which is why the process is so involved. Here are six other things you should consider when selecting a lot for your new home.

1. Get to know the neighborhood.

You may fall in love with a piece of land, but the surrounding neighborhood could be a dud. It’s absolutely vital that you take the time to get to know the neighborhood before committing to your property. Drive or walk around at different points throughout the day and week to get a gauge on the ins and outs of the community. Consider traffic, noise, sanitation, etc.

It’s also a good idea to find out the details on planning, zoning, and development in the community, such as:

  • Which permitting authority controls the land?
  • It is located within city limits?
  • Is it in the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the town or city?
  • Is the property zoned?
  • Are you limited to certain architectural styles?
  • Is there an HOA for the community, and if so, what is required of you as a homeowner?
  • What will the community look like in 5-10 years?

2. Consider utilities and accessibility.

Are all utilities already on lot? If the answer is no, you’ll need to do some research to figure out who will provide the essentials and how much it will cost. You will also want to consider access. If your property isn’t accessible from a public roadway, it may not have access to city water, sewage, or other essential maintenance (snow plowing, garbage collection, etc.). This will end up costing more for construction, as you may end up requiring a septic system and a well to handle basics. While public roads guarantee an effortless route to your lot, private roads make things more complicated. For example, if your property is landlocked, you may require an easement to access it.

3. Know the types of lots.

Be sure to consider all future needs for your lot, like whether or not you will want to add a pool, a playground for the kids, a shed, a patio, etc. If you ponder these details up front, you’ll be able to make a better choice for your lot. There are different types of lots, each with their own benefits and drawbacks, which are important to know and understand. Here are the basics.

  • Wedge-shaped lots (cul-de-sacs) – Backyard is bigger than front, making them great for pools, gardens, etc.
  • Corner lots  – Offer both a side-yard and backyard, making curb appeal more prominent. Easier access to rear of home and option for two separate entrances.
  • T-shaped intersection  – In the direct line of traffic, causing unwanted light in main living and sleeping areas from cars. Increased visibility.

4. Examine sun exposure.

Your home and the sun will have an intense and important relationship. This relationship will affect your new home’s livability during daylight hours. Consider which areas of your home need the most sun and how the lot’s sun exposure will determine building restrictions.

  • Western Exposure –  Captures the afternoon sun
  • Eastern Exposure  –  Takes advantage of morning sun
  • Southern Exposure – Solar rays during most of the day

5. Topography

Examine the topography of your potential lot. Uneven terrain can pose quite a financial challenge if it must be transformed to support a proper foundation. Be sure to consider the slope, as a “low” lot can create many problems with drainage, causing many future issues with footings, foundation, wells and septic tanks, landscaping, etc. A well-drained lot has sufficient slope to allow rain to run off naturally.


6. Know the property’s setbacks and easements.

Last, but definitely not least, be sure to learn what setbacks, if any, the property has. Basically, setbacks and easements are guidelines that determine which parts of the land are buildable. If there are sufficient setbacks, it may affect where you are able to place your home and can possibly dictate your home’s overall footprint. Easements, or the legal right to use another’s land for a specific purpose (i.e., a shared driveway or power lines), can make specific parts of your land unusable. Be sure to ask your custom home builder about any potential easements or setbacks before moving forward.

Be sure to trust your own instincts in your lot search. The perfect lot probably doesn’t exist, but if you are knowledgeable about the process and the particulars, you’ll probably come pretty close. Be sure to involve your custom home builder in your search, as an involved builder can truly make a world of a difference in finding the best lot for your new home.

Your dream home starts with selecting the right lot. Contact Sandy Spring Builders to guide you in your search. We’ll work with you to find that perfect plot of land for your new residence. From inspiration to inception to construction, we’re by your side. Let’s get started!