This land is your land

As you've likely noticed, the available inventory for pre-existing homes is at an all-time low. Adding insult to injury, the competition is fierce and many homes go under agreement within days of hitting the market and at above asking price. If you've exhausted the MLS or you've decided you'd like to build your own home, the next step is to begin your land search. It can be an intimidating prospect so we've gathered the information you might need to feel empowered as you enter this new phase.

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What are the zoning restrictions?

Zoning ordinances vary by town, and different restrictions apply to different parts of these towns. For instance, a “village district” might require a minimum half-acre lot for a new home, while a “rural district” might require a 3-acre lot. The size of the home, including the number and size of out-buildings allowed, can also depend on the zoning. In some communities, there are even limitations on the kind of materials allowed or the design of the building, especially in historic areas. Make sure the home you envision is allowed on the land you hope to buy.

How wet is it?

If there are delineated wetlands on the property or the water table is especially high there, it may limit your ability to use the property. If there is no public sewer in the area, a soil “perc test” should be done to see if the land can support a septic system.

What is my water source?

Is public water available or will you need a well? Some new subdivisions have shared well water systems that require a fee for use and upkeep. In New Hampshire, all wells that have been drilled in the past 30 years are recorded by the state. You can use this information to find out how deep your neighbors had to drill for water. Town health departments may also keep records about local well water quality, too.

How much work needs to be done to build?

Cutting down trees, blasting into ledge and building long driveways can add significant cost to building your home. Before buying, look into the geology of the property, the grade and if there are any drainage issues.

Does your design fit the land?

Does your dream home design include floor-to-ceiling windows for taking in great views, or roof solar panels for heating hot water? Make sure the lot fits in with your dream plans. If the lot is heavily wooded, has a steep grade or a beautiful view, factor that into your designs. For expert advice, contact Rockwell Homes.

What are the future plans for the area?

If you are putting all this effort into building a home, you’re likely going to want to live there for many years. If so, take the time to ask the town offices what the plans for the area are in the next decade. Communities are required to create a “master plan” that lays out the vision for the town. Will there be extensive development in your area? Are there plans to add industrial or manufacturing districts nearby? Will there be a road expansion or new housing developments. This is especially important to ask if you’re building a new home to seek privacy.

Are there easements or other deed restrictions on the property?

Landowners can negotiate easements and other deed restrictions without it having much impact on the property. Conservation easements are a popular way for landowners to preserve an especially beautiful part of their property, but it could keep future owners from building the home they want. Also be wary or rights-of-way which could allow utilities or town workers to cut trees and develop the land for roads or power lines.