Selection of a good home site for the house you build will result in a pleasing approach and setting, and will contribute to better views and energy conservation. There are so many factors that influence site selection that more than one page will be needed to cover this topic.
Rural Or Urban Setting?
Whether you get property in the country or buy a lot in town (or city) is a matter of preference. Where do you want to live? Do you prefer life in the quiet country, on the edge of the deep woods, but don't mind having to drive 30 minutes one way to the grocery store? Time and distance of your work commute can also be factors.
If you're looking for a home site in the country, you probably have a good idea what you want. You just have to find it.
If you are buying a place to stay for a long time, it is wise to check the owners of surrounding property. You might get some insight into how their land will be used over the years.
How hard is it to find a lot in town?
Isolated lots that are for sale to anyone can be found in town, but you may have to be patient. They usually occur in subdivisions that are a little older. These lots are the left overs that were never built on by the original owners.
Be sure to consider the factors in the sections below. Selecting your lot should be the result of a business decision, not just an emotional attachment to the first place you find. Left over lots in subdivisions are often the least desirable or most expensive to build on. Be patient!
The building plots in most new subdivisions are sold by the developers to licensed home builders, not to individuals. For several reasons, this is just the way it is. Keep looking, but it may be difficult to find a lot you can purchase in a subdivision.
You Have to Select Your Site Before You Can Determine The Design Of The House
You've probably figured out that a house on a narrow, deep lot has to be completely different from a house on a wide, shallow lot. You can't settle on the design of your house until you have selected the property.
Views of the Home Site
Your new home site should be seen by those who approach it in ways that complement the property and house. Whether the site can be viewed from the road, or only after traveling down a winding drive through the woods, consider the views of your site. Try to visualize your new home on the property.
Is your home property above the road or below the road? Home sites above the road often turn out more pleasing than those where the house is lower than the street.
Some hilly areas can result in lots that place the house so high above the street that it's really hard to look up and see the home from your car. Other home sites in these areas may drop off so sharply that all you can see from the street is the top of the roof. Again, try to visualize your home on the lot, and consider carefully the view of it you will have when finished.
Visualizing the house sounds like fun, but it can be difficult for some people. Get an image in your mind, and try to "see" it on the property. Helpful Tip - The finished house usually will be larger and taller on the site than you expected.
Views from the Home Site
Walk on the prospective home site and stand where you expect to locate the house. If you have already settled on your house design, take the floor plan and drive some stakes where the house corners might fall. This will give you a better "feel" for how the house will relate to this piece of property.
What will you see when you look out the windows of your future home? Or when you are enjoying a rocking chair on your new back porch? Try it and see! Good views from the house will add greatly to the enjoyment of living in the dream home you build on your lot.
The approach to your new house can be greatly enhanced by some planning before you locate it on the property. Think through the views you will have of the house while driving toward it. If you will have a long driveway, consider routing it so you will get a view of the entire front of the house before arriving at the garage door (or at the location where visitors will park).
If your home site is in a subdivision or "neighborhood," think about how most people will approach the house when they drive up. If most of the traffic will approach your house from one direction, orient the house to take advantage of that. You should see the front door and most of the front of the house as you approach it. Don't let the garage be the first or only part of the house you see as you drive toward it.
This house, on a cul de sac (dead end street), can only be approached from one direction. This is the view of the house as your drive toward it.
Does that really matter? It's common for houses that are built "backwards" on the lot, like this, to sit on the market for months while neighboring houses sell. Someone either didn't think through the design of the approach to the house, or preferred to save the extra $75 it would have cost to buy a flipped or reversed set of drawings.
This view shows the same house as seen from the opposite direction. This would been a much better first approach view of the house.
Don't Go Barking Up The Wrong Tree!
Every house we have built on a lot with mature trees has gotten special comments from buyers. The buyers of one new house told us, "We bought this house because of the trees across the back of the lot!"
Get in your car and ride through a neighborhood of 1940's era cottages, and then ride through a typical new subdivision. Notice the difference in the character and feel of the homes and neighborhood? Almost every time, the big difference in the neighborhood with real character is due in large part to the presence of beautiful trees (if you live in an area where trees are an integral part of the landscape).
Whatever natural beauty is common in the area where you live, look for a home site that has it, if at all possible. For most places we have been, trees are at the top of the list of quality elements that give a building plot the potential to become a real home. It's true that trees require certain maintenance, but consider the value added to the property by trees:
1. Natural beauty
2. Wind breaks in the winter
3. Shade and cooling of the air in the summer
4. Home and shelter for wildlife
5. Psychological feeling of shelter
6. A place where memories are made - a place for rope swings, backrests, knife carvings and climbing adventures.
If the property you select is short on landscaping, make adding good plantings a priority as you plan and build.
Susan and I wish you the very best as you look for the house site of your dreams! Happy hunting!