Selecting A House Building Lot

Probably one of the most important things to consider when building a new home is selecting a house building lot. While the building lot may seem fairly straight forward the reality is a good lot selection can save you time, money and lots of headaches later on.

The adjacent photo shows a building lot prior to construction. It’s for a house we built a few years ago and it offers some great features. Before you purchase a lot you should consider several of the issues listed below.

This particular building lot is really nice. It has a very slight hill that overlooks a pond on two sides. You can’t see the pond from the photo but it’s about 300 feet ahead of the tree in the center of the photo. This photo was taken looking north towards what will be the front of the house.

Building Lot Features
This building lot has many desirable features. Choosing a lot with great features is one of the most important decisions in the house building process.

  • The front of the house will have a really great southern exposure for sun throughout the day especially in the cold winter months.
  • The building lot has natural elevation at the center which allows for great drainage away from the new house.
  • The building lot sits on very good sandy soils. The sandy soil has good bearing capacity and very good drainage features.
  • The building lot has great views of a natural pond along two sides.
  • The building lot is at the end of a cul-de-sac.

Above is the house under construction. Notice the small tree on the right side of the photo is the same tree in the original photo.

In the photo above you can see the house from across the pond. Notice that the house sits at the high point on the lot allowing for excellent site drainage.

Building Lot Features To Consider

In addition to the bullet points above you should also consider the following when selecting a house building lot:

  • Availability of utilities including; water, sewer, electric, phone, cable TV and even fire alarm service.
  • Availability of postal service – many of us take this for granted but it’s not a given in rural areas.
  • Availability of fire protection services including proximity to fire hydrants, fire ponds, fire and rescue personnel.
  • Presence of ledge or other difficult ground geology.
  • Proximity to Flood Plains

Finally you really should consider how close you are to the available tradesmen that will build your new home. If you’re 50 miles from the nearest concrete supply company you’re going to pay a serious premium for your foundation. If your building lot has ledge it’s likely that you will be spending thousands of extra dollars on blasting the ledge.

One more thing to consider and frankly probably the most important is location. As all Realtor’s say over and over again location is everything. Take your time and find a great lot in a great location and you’ll be on your way to a wonderful new home.

Todd Fratzel

I'm full time builder for a large construction company in New Hampshire. I run their design-build division that specializes in custom homes, commercial design-build projects and sub-divisions. I'm also a licensed civil and structural engineer with extensive experience in civil and structural design and home construction. My hope is that I can share my experience in the home construction, home improvement and home renovation profession with other builders and home owners. I'm also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Tool Box Buzz. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions or you'd like to inquire about advertising on this site.

View Comments

  • Another concern about ledge, other than blasting costs - Someone I know was careful to choose a well drained lot, and built the house at the high point. However, they had to blast ledge, and the result is a foundation built in what is basically a rock swimming pool. Now they have trouble keeping their basement dry after periods of heavy rains. They have since been told that locating the house 50 ft. or so off the high point would have gotten them to the edge of the ledge area, preventing the "swimming pool" effect. Make sure you have a someone knowledgable about site planning involved before you choose the final building location.

    • Very good point Max. Final house location on the lot should be done after digging test pits. If the first location hits ledge serious consideration should be given to an alternate location.

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