Everything You Need to Know Before You Build on Your Lot

Don’t rush to build on your lot! Let the experts at Costa Homebuilders help you get started

When you begin the process of building a custom home, you have the option to build your new home on a lot that you already own. In order to build on your lot, you need to consider various lot-building considerations to ensure a successful outcome. Today, we’re detailing the process of building a home on your own lot and how Costa Homebuilders can help.

From property evaluation to zoning laws and restrictions, homeowners must consider a lot before breaking ground. Terrain considerations need to be considered and overlooked as well. Terrain significantly impacts the stability of your future abode. Additionally, flood zone and mine depth determination is vital for safeguarding against potential disasters.

Utility access is also important when selecting the perfect location for your custom home. To wrap up, we’ll be assessing future resale value based on nearby developments and proximity to desirable amenities to help you make a sound investment. Let’s go!

Property Evaluation and Home Builder Input

Before you build on your lot, you need to request a formal property evaluation or seek the input of an experienced home builder

To start the process of building on your own land, you need to hire professionals to assess factors such as soil quality, sire drainage, and potential construction challenges that may impact your project. In this section, we’ll discuss the importance of soil testing for foundation stability and identifying potential drainage problems early in the process.

Soil Testing for Foundation Stability

A solid foundation is essential to build on your lot

To ensure long-term stability, soil testing should be conducted before breaking ground. This process helps determine if the site has adequate bearing capacity to support your dream home built with high-quality building materials. Also, soil tests identify any necessary modifications to prevent future structural damage. These are the main factors professionals consider when testing for foundation stability.

  • Bearing Capacity: The ability of the soil to support a significant amount of weight without settling or collapsing.
  • Settlement: The downward movement of a structure caused by changes in underlying soils over time.
  • Frost Heave: A common issue in colder climates where freezing water causes upward pressure on foundations leading to cracks and other damages. For custom homes in the Pittsburgh area, this is a major consideration.
  • Coal Mine Location: It is common in Pennsylvania to build over or near coal mines.  It is something that is done frequently. It is important to know the mine information ahead of time to allow the correct foundation in place to assure stability.


Identifying Potential Drainage Problems

Poor drainage can lead to serious complications during construction and after completion

Building on a sloping site or areas prone to flooding requires careful planning from you and your home builder. It’s essential that proper grading techniques are employed, along with effective stormwater management systems like swales, grading, or French drains and storm sump installed around your new residence. 

By addressing these concerns early on, you can avoid costly repairs and potential damage to your property. Investing time in proper evaluation and consulting with experienced professionals will ensure that your dream home is built on solid ground for years to come.


Zoning Laws and Restrictions

In order to build on your lot, you need to learn about the local restrictions before you design your custom home

Before building your custom home, you should familiarize yourself with local zoning laws and restrictions to avoid legal complications down the road. Let’s take a look at some of the common zoning restrictions you might run into before you build on your own lot.

Residential vs. Commercial Zoning

Understand zoning designations like residential or commercial zones to avoid limitations on home-based businesses or storage restrictions.

Community Guidelines and Covenants

Research any applicable community guidelines on building materials, architectural styles, fence height limits, or landscaping requirements to avoid unexpected roadblocks during the process.

  • Step 1: Consult with local planning officials or a knowledgeable engineer about specific zoning regulations.
  • Step 2: Review any community guidelines or covenants with your custom home builder.
  • Step 3: Make necessary adjustments to your construction plans based on zoning laws and community restrictions.


Terrain Considerations

Before you build on your own lot, make sure that you know about any risks associated with your topography & surroundings

When building a custom home, it’s crucial to consider the topography to avoid costly surprises down the line. Let’s go over some of the most common terrain issues you need to know.

Assessing Slope Stability and Erosion Risks

Sloping sites demand careful attention to slope stability and erosion risks. If you have a sloping lot, you need an experienced engineer to analyze soil conditions and determine if retaining walls are necessary. Proper drainage systems should also be installed to prevent water from flowing toward your foundation and causing damage.

Proximity to Natural Hazards

It is essential that professionals evaluate your home’s proximity to natural hazards like earthquakes and landslides before breaking ground. Using resources like the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program, you can research local earthquake fault lines. You can also investigate landslide-prone areas by consulting geological surveys or seeking guidance from local authorities.

It is also important to choose high-quality building materials that can withstand the test of time and provide a solid foundation for your custom home. Taking steps to be prepared for potential issues and safeguarding your custom home by selecting top-notch materials can help guarantee its longevity.


Flood Zone Determination

Don’t let flood potential ruin your dreams for a custom home —determine your flood zone first

Before you begin building a home on your lot, you need to determine your flood zone. A flood zone map evaluates the local area and the potential for flooding in each part of the community. By researching local flood zones, you can decide whether or not your lot is the best place to break ground for your custom home. Here are a few things to consider while you are researching your local flood zones:

  • Accurate Flood Maps – Consult FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center for detailed maps that provide crucial data on areas prone to flooding.
  • Insurance Premiums – Expect to pay a significant amount more for homeowners’ insurance if your lot is located within a designated flood plain.
  • Construction Considerations – Building on sloping sites or near bodies of water may require additional reinforcement or specialized drainage solutions.

Consult with experienced custom home builders to navigate these complexities. By understanding your property’s risk level and factoring in insurance costs, you can make informed decisions about whether building within a flood zone aligns with your long-term goals.


Utility Access

If you are building on your lot in a rural area, you may have to budget for extended utility access

Before making a final decision, investigate any possible easements or restrictions related to utility access.

Factor in the Cost of Extending Utilities to Remote Lots

Are you building on a remote lot? Include the cost of extending utilities like water and electricity in your budget, as this can be a significant expense.

  • Contact local water providers for information on connecting new service lines.
  • Inquire with electric companies about running power lines from existing infrastructure.
  • Determine if natural gas is available in the area or if propane tanks will be required instead.
  • Is sewage available or does it require septic?

Once you understand what it will take to bring utilities to your property, you can begin to formulate a budget.

Understanding Potential Conflicts

Ensure that you understand any easements associated with the property before building on an existing lot.

  1. Analyze recorded documents pertaining to your property at the county recorder’s office or online resources like Property Search Portal.
  2. Schedule a consultation with a real estate attorney to review any discovered easements and their implications.
  3. If necessary, communicate with neighboring property owners to discuss shared utility access or resolve potential conflicts.

By evaluating utility access in advance, you can save yourself from unexpected costs and complications down the road.


FAQs in Relation to Lot Building Considerations

What to Consider When Building a Custom Home?

When planning to build a custom home, you need to consider several factors. These include the location, budget, design and layout, energy efficiency, building materials, local zoning laws and restrictions, and topography. It’s also important to assess future resale value and ensure utility access. Additionally, you should evaluate the flood plain and determine if the site is on sloping sites.

How to Prepare a Lot for New Construction?

Preparing a lot for new construction involves several steps:

  • Evaluate the property conditions, including soil stability and floodplain determination
  • Conduct necessary surveys and studies
  • Determine drainage solutions if needed
  • Locate and extend utilities
  • Build a temporary driveway
  • Clear the land of vegetation or debris
  • Grade the site properly to create level surfaces

After these steps are complete, your home builders are ready to begin construction!

How to Determine House Placement on a Lot?

Determining the placement of your custom home involves considering several factors, such as sun exposure, views from windows or outdoor spaces, privacy concerns with neighbors’ properties, topography constraints, accessibility requirements, local zoning regulations, setbacks from property lines, and easements on your property.

If you’re ready to start planning your custom home build with expert guidance on lot building considerations, contact Costa Homebuilders. Our team has extensive experience in building beautiful homes that exceed our client’s expectations!


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