Selecting a Homesite for Your Dream Home

The majority of Americans live in densely populated areas, so the concept of finding a community that has plenty of land to build on is a bit foreign. However, if you move south or west, there is a very good chance that you can find a community where you have the opportunity to pick your homesite followed by having your Dream Home designed and built exactly to your lifestyle requirements.

There are three specific ways in which you can purchase a home:

  • Purchase a resale/new existing home
  • Pick out a homesite and have a customized home built upon it
  • Pick out a homesite and have a custom home built upon it

If given the chance to choose between new and perhaps a 10 year old home, it’s a safe bet that more people would love to have a brand new home. The first step though in the last two choices is to find a homesite that meets your requirements. My genesis in real estate was working for developers, and I was taught the art of showing/selling land by some of the country’s finest land salesman, so allow me to provide you with suggestions on how to select the correct homesite.

  • Know the size and footprint/dimensions of the home you like
    • If the width of the home you like is 60’ wide and the side setbacks are 10’ each, you need a homesite at least 80’ wide.
    • Same goes for depth but more often, the width is the more important dimension
    • If the home is 60’ wide, then make sure that the homesite doesn’t taper too much in the front or the back for if it does, the home will not fit properly
    • Location in the Community
      • There are some parts of every community where you might want to avoid locating your Dream Home. For example, a homesite on the perimeter of the community means you will be subject to the impact of neighbors who don’t live in your community. Busy roads, proximity to large utilities, backing up to a noisy golf course or lake and so on should all be considered.som
      • Sometimes you may want to be located near a specific amenity, such as the pool, clubhouse, fitness center, tennis courts, Canoe/Kayak Center, etc.
      • Location on your Street
        • Ask yourself if you care where you live on a specific street.
        • Do you prefer living on a corner? Middle of the street? Cul De Sac?
        • Orientation to the Sun
          • This is very important as living in a warmer climate means more sun each day and more days of sun each year
          • Consider your lifestyle. Where do you want the sun in the morning and afternoon?
          • If you are a morning person, having the back of your home facing east provides you with abundant sunshine while you drink your coffee. It also provides your backyard  shade in the later afternoon hours, which is important if you plan to dine/entertain and or just sit on your back screened porch or deck.
          • Many people in warmer climates enjoy the back of the home facing south. This provides the left side of your home with sunlight in the morning while the afternoon sun sets on the right side of your home. If you want a bright and sunny home from sun up to sun down, this is your best bet
          • With an orientation of the back of your home facing west, you will have morning sun on the front of your home and afternoon sun on your back porch. Keep in mind that when you do retire, grilling out with friends/neighbors is a common event and if your back porch is too uncomfortable with the hot sun, you won’t have many neighbors wanting to bake on your back porch!
          • Homes where the back faces north offer the most day round shade for a home. This can save on your utility bills but, without sunlights and or a creative home designer, you may find the home kind of depressing as the front of the home will be receiving the majority of your sunlight
          • High & Dry
            • One of the most common problems with new homes can be moisture in the home, which can lead to mold – which can lead to health and expensive remediation solutions.
            • You can be in the mountains at 4,000’ of elevation and select a homesite that has moisture issues, so don’t think that you have to be on the coast or next to a body of water for your homesite to have moisture issues
            • Be sure to acquire a plat of your homesite before you purchase it. Along the coast, a good portion of homesites are close to or border nature areas – better known as 404 areas. If the homesite you are considering has a 404 dotted line running across it, you must understand that you cannot build on or across this area, as the state has deemed the land an important part of the ecological system which cannot be disturbed. And you don’t have to be on the coast to experience wetlands!
            • If the homesite you are considering sets low from the street, has numerous wild healthy ferns on it or some kind of a stream/creek bordering the property, go ahead and order a soil test. Several hundred dollars can remove or confirm your suspicions
            • If a homesite is good and dry and your home will have a crawlspace, this will very much help alleviate any chances of moisture collecting under your home and posing long term health issues to your family members.  Mold spores are difficult and expensive to remove and good preventative measures can assist you in avoiding mold in the future
            • Depending upon where you are looking, building homes on slabs, which is a pad of concrete set right upon the dirt, also can virtually eliminate any chance of future moisture issues
            • Contour of the Land
              • The first concern of the contour of the land is build ability of your Dream Home on the homesite.
              • If you have a severe drop off in your backyard, the costs to build your home will skyrocket
              • You must also consider the direction of which way the land is tilted/leaning. Ideally, a homesite that is slightly tilted from front to back is preferable as that will assure you of the water running away from the home
              • Water issues as you know can be devastating to a home, so be sure to look at which direction the rain water will flow off your neighbor’s homesite as well.
              • A level homesite with few if any trees will save you money when it comes to the preparation of your homesite. The further you get away from the perfect homesite, the more you should expect additional prep costs to your home
              •  The Shape of Your Homesite
                • Rectangular & Square homesites are the most common. Many developers also know that dividing land in straight lines yields the top number of homesites
                • Pie Shaped – funny term because it is misleading. A pie is round, right? When referring to a homesite, one is referring to a lot that is narrow in the front and wide in the back – kind of like a slice of pizza pie. Pie shaped sites are most common in cul de sacs and on curvy roads. Pie lots can also be wide at the front and narrow at the back.
                • Flag Lot – this is where you have a long narrow strip of land running from the street to a homesite generally set back in the woods. Basically, it is like looking at a flag pole with an extended flag. The pole represents your driveway
                • Remember that the larger your homesite is, the more flexibility you will have in designing your home on it. Therefore, sometimes there can be a premium for wider homesites, regardless of their shapes.
                • Your Garage
                  • Down here on the coast, the typical homesite allows for a garage that is located at the front of the home. Reason being is that the site is too narrow to locate the garage on the side of the home.
                  • If you prefer a side load garage, which is a home with a garage attached to one side or the other, requires a homesite of generally 100’ of width or more. Keep in mind that you need a comfortable 20’ from the garage door to the edge of the concrete to turn around and do wide entries into your garage
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