What some home buyers are not aware of is how significantly their lot affects the design of the home (and budget!) that will sit on it. The lot dimensions (length & width & depth), soil type, amount of trees, grade (slope), driveway length, utility availability – as well as fundamentals such as whether the lot will receive municipal services or require a well and/or septic system – are crucially important factors that should be considered prior to purchasing a lot.
You may be getting ready to tour the Parade of Homes, looking for the perfect design or perfect features or perfect builder. That’s great, because that’s one of the most valuable parts of the parade experience! Particularly if you’re interested in knowing the price of a particular plan, it’s extremely important to understand that the finished product that you’re touring cannot simply be replicated for the same price on another lot. Lots have a significant impact on the final price of a custom-built home.
Case in point: Liz purchased the lot that our Spring 2016 home, Watercrest, was sitting on prior to selecting Heartland Builders. It was the perfect location for her, and she had an architect draw up the plans for her home that was to be built there.
There was just one problem with that: the lot sat right next to a floodplain, which brought with it a host of state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) regulations. In a nutshell, the end result was that the DEQ regulations added prohibitively expensive costs to build the originally designed home on her lot – so much so that she abandoned the original plan that she’d already paid to be designed. We redrew the plans and designed a gorgeous home that maximizes the benefits of the lot and satisfies the DEQ requirements.
Liz noted, “It would have saved me a lot of time and hassle and money if I’d have talked to Rich before ever purchasing that lot!”
Here’s why: we would have been able to assess her lot prior to designing her dream home, and helped her determine whether the limitations the DEQ requirements imposed were reason enough to not pursue the purchase of the lot. We could also have designed her home to fit that lot had she decided that the location trumped the design she thought she wanted, saving her the time, expense, and hassle of redesigning a home that had been designed by someone unfamiliar with the unique particulars of that lot.
So what should come first – choosing a lot or choosing a plan? It’s kind of like the old adage, “what comes first – the chicken or the egg?” It depends on your priorities and your budget.
Is your heart set on a particular home design and that is the most important consideration? Then you’ll want your builder to assess lots you’re considering prior to purchasing the lot to ensure that your design features can be built on that site within your budget.
Is your home’s location the most important factor? If location is most important to you, remaining flexible regarding the footprint of your future custom home will better position you to leverage your ideal location.
Either way, you’ll want to carefully examine and consider these 6 questions when considering potential lots:
- How many trees are on the lot? Clearing trees costs money. Period.
- What is the terrain and the grade like? Dirt and hauling dirt can also incur expense.
- How long will the driveway be? A driveway that’s 35 foot long is going to be less expensive than a driveway that’s 100 feet long; you’ll want to research setback requirements for the municipality or township where you’re considering buying a lot.
- What is the soil like? Different types of soil are easier (and less expensive) to work with, so you’ll want to know what the soil type is.
- Will the lot require a well and septic system, or will it rely on municipal services? Municipal services will result in recurring and regular bills, but wells and septic systems add cost to the initial construction.
- Where are utilities located, and what will it cost to get them to the lot?
Our Fall 2016 Parade of Homes clients, Heather & Colin, needed a lot conveniently located — and that was their most important consideration. They LOVED the location of the lot they purchased – situated perfectly between her veterinary hospital in Standale and Grand Valley State University’s Allendale campus – and that was more important to them than the exact footprint of the home that would sit on it. “A sprawling ranch just wasn’t going to work on our lot,” explains Heather, of her home Ivy Grove. “Our lot just wasn’t wide enough for that. So we went with a 1.5 story home instead, which fits our lot and our needs perfectly.”
Most importantly, make sure your builder evaluates your land. Your builder knows what to look for and how lot features will impact your desired design. Did you know that Heartland Builders offers FREE site evaluations?
We’ll help save you time, worry, and perhaps even money — and most importantly — help you build with confidence.