Can We Build My House Here?

March 23, 2020

You’ve no doubt heard that old adage about real estate. “Location, Location, Location!” It’s true, location is king and not every parcel is created equal. At Spectrum Construction we know that the site you choose will play a major role in determining how much enjoyment you get out of your new home. Before breaking ground, you need to take a careful look at the lot you’ve chosen to find out of it is suitable for the home you want. A number of different factors will influence whether you can or even should build on a particular piece of land. A great house starts with a great lot, so here are some things to consider before breaking ground.

Zoning Matters

Before you fall in love with a piece of land, be sure to research the zoning for the parcel you’ve chosen. Where and what you can build on any given property is governed by zoning. The zoning department for the county or city in which your lot is located can tell you the specific zoning for the lot. Review the zoning code for the requirements you’ll need to meet before building. In addition to the general type of building you can construct, there may be restrictions on how many stories your house can be. Or, setback requirements that specify how far your house must be from property boundaries. If you’re planning to build any additional structures on your property, now is the time to find out about any restrictions for those as well. 

Deed Restrictions

When purchasing land, a title agent investigates the property’s title. They’ll report on any clouds or defects that may affect your ownership. The title report should also specify any restrictions that might impact your ability to build on the site.  Check the deed carefully. You can also look at the assessor’s parcel map or tract map (for subdivisions) showing your lot at the city planning office. To locate your assessor’s parcel number (APN), go to your county assessor’s website. All property records are open to the public. Once you have located your lot on a parcel/tract map, pay attention to notes and comments regarding your property. The notes should be self-explanatory such as “subject to building site approval” or “not an approved site.” If you don’t find a note, your lot is likely an approved building site. 

All-Access Pass

Now that the legal bits are out of the way, it’s time to look at the land itself. Access to your lot is of high importance. Access should be easy both during the construction process and for daily living after your home is built. Look for safe, well-maintained roads with wide lanes and smooth surfaces. Keep in mind our Colorado weather. Roads that are lovely and scenic in the summer may become treacherous under snow cover. Be sure to find out who is responsible for snow removal as you may need to budget for it. 

Let There Be Light

As well as all the other utilities. Things like electricity, water, and natural gas or propane are essential for any home. But don’t forget about life’s little luxuries like cable, internet, and phone service. Many times, property that is further out can appear to be less expensive to purchase. But if the property doesn’t have water or an onsite septic system, the cost to install can be surprising.  Wells in Archuleta County can start at $30,000 and an onsite septic system for a two-bedroom home is around $14,000.00. So be sure to consider these items and factor them into your budget. Will you need to install a well or a septic system or does your lot come with city services? 

Stability

Protect your investment by consulting a geotechnical engineer before you begin construction. Building your home on unstable land can lead to disastrous consequences. Not to mention enormous financial losses. You’ll want to be sure that the foundation for your home is correctly suited to the soil beneath it. Also, keep in mind while looking for a property, beware that rocks, buried debris (ie tree, trash, boulders, etc.) and below-surface water can add to the cost of the foundation. Especially if you have to blast rock, which requires removing the rock and bring in compactable material before pouring the foundation.

Tree Hugger

Clearing large trees to make room for construction can add extra costs to your project. Decaying, ill or even tall trees can present a hazard if they fall onto your roof or get hit by lightning. Most homeowners prefer at least a few mature trees on their lots but look for parcels whose trees are on the edges of the property. Consider planting saplings on a bare lot after your home is completed.

HOA’s

Most subdivisions are governed by homeowners’ associations, also known as HOA’s. The HOA comes with both advantages and disadvantages. They usually come with fees and have strict guidelines that members must adhere to. However, they also protect property values by preventing eyesores and misuse of property.

Keep in mind, problems with your chosen lot can present obstacles. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t build your dream home there. Many issues can be overcome with a little effort. If you are in the process of looking for land Spectrum Construction is uniquely suited to help. In addition to being a General Contractor, Steve is an experienced licensed surveyor in both California and Colorado. He can show you where the setbacks are and more importantly how close your neighbors could later build to your proposed home. Contact us today to see how we can help make your dream home a reality.