The Guide For Buying Land Building A House Or Buying New Construction

The Guide For Buying Land Building A House Or Buying New Construction

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If you’re starting from scratch, the first thing you need to do is buy land, which can be a simple process – or prove fraught with problems if you fail to do your due diligence. Be sure to follow these steps before you close on a plot of land.

Check the zoning and condition of the property. Few things will be more disappointing than buying the perfect plot of land for your dream home, only to find out that it’s not OK to live on, either due to zoning issues or soil contaminants that make living there a hazard.

In a highly populated area like Los Angeles, most buildable land has already been developed, and the few patches left are hillsides, says Steve Pallrand, owner of design-build and renovation company Home Front Build. “I see people here in Los Angeles who [say], 'I love this hillside, this is just so charming.’ They buy it, and then a few years later it goes back on the market because they realize they can’t build on it,” he says.

Check the zoning, grade and soil quality, as well as other details specific to the area that may keep a house from being constructed on the land. Even if there’s an existing home on the property, it’s important to check, as zoning or soil quality could have changed since that structure was built. A real estate agent familiar with buying land can help you with the due diligence process.

See if utilities are hooked up. Undeveloped, vacant land or a dated house may need additional work to enable it to reach utilities, including electric, gas and plumbing. “What are all the burdens that are going to be on you? Maybe there’s no sewer,” Pallrand says.

Demolishing an existing structure. If there’s a house or other structure on the propertythat must be demolished, you have a couple of options. A mechanical demolition with excavators and heavy machinery will take a house down the fastest but cost more, while a smaller-scale demolition by hand will be cheaper but require more time.

Before you demolish anything, it’s best to select a team of professionals to build your house. In many cases, a design-build firm may want to retain a portion of the structure and can help oversee the demolition.

You may need to hire a separate contractor who specializes in demolition as well. A contractor can manage details to ensure utilities are shut off for demolition, you've secured the necessary permits and you've notified the local fire department.

How much does it cost to buy land to build a house? The cost of land varies widely based on the size of the plot, where you live and if there’s already a house there. When a house exists on the property, keep in mind that you typically won’t be able to pay the land value only. The existing structure, regardless of its condition, is considered an improvement on the land and is factored into the overall value. That said, a seller desperate to close on a deal will likely consider lower offers knowing the property is a teardown.

At the end of the day, demolition of any kind is a big project that can come with a hefty price tag. The average house demolition costs $18,000, according to HomeAdvisor, but it depends on the size and location of the property as well as the experience level of the contractor.

Building a Custom-Design House

With your vacant plot of land, you’re free to build your own house. That is, as long as you’ve received the proper approvals from your local municipality, including permits to build, approval of the size and placement of the structure and confirmation that the home plans meet local zoning and code ordinances.

Here are the steps to build a custom house:

Hire your team of professionals. You'll want to assemble your team even before you’ve purchased the land to ensure the house you want is within your overall budget and is a fit for the property you’ve purchased.

Your team will likely include an architect to design the house, a builder and subcontractors to complete each step of the building process.

Rather than seek out each of these pros individually, you could hire a design-build firm, which employs architects and construction specialists like electricians and carpenters, reducing the need to hire more people and helping keep the process efficient and your budget on track.

As with hiring any professional, research a few companies before moving forward with one. Ask friends or neighbors who have had positive experiences for referrals, and research companies who operate locally that showcase examples of work online that might be to your taste. You can even approach multiple firms to bid on your project.

Pallrand warns that you might not see a realistic total cost in some bids. “One of the three people who’s bidding either doesn’t know what they’re doing or is disingenuous,” he says.

If you go with the firm that provided a significantly lower bid, you may get change orders during the process, which are additions or deletions from the original project plan, that increase the total cost. With any firm you choose, make sure your budget is a part of the discussion as you make design and material decisions with your team.

COURTESY OF Devon Thorsby, Staff Writer  and https://realestate.usnews.com/real-estate/articles/the-guide-for-buying-land-building-a-house-or-buying-new-construction


Gazelle Westermeyer Headshot
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Phone: 931-291-5810
Dated: July 26th 2018
Views: 16
About Gazelle: As a full time Tennessee REALTOR® I advise you in finding the exact home your family needs. I also ...

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