While many Americans choose to buy a traditional tract home and have no oversight in the building process, those looking for a custom home who want more control over the building of their home need a different approach. With the housing market flooded with buyers and the prices of homes trending upward, many people are turning towards overseeing the construction of their own homes.
While this may be more time-consuming and sometimes more expensive, building your own home offers customization and control not found by buying a house constructed by someone else. But, like any major project, there are a few steps you don’t want to overlook before you build a home in the mountains.
The first step is the budget–which is extremely important. How much have you saved? How much can you finance? Consulting a mortgage officer and getting “pre-qualified” will help you know what you can safely afford.
It is essential to be aware of potentially sudden changes like a rise in mortgage interest rates that might make your payments more considerable than you planned. Custom-built homes almost always run over budget, so leave a 10% cushion.
It is essential to do your homework for the initial property. Your agent will assist you in finding properties within your budget. But it is important to consider other costs that might arise.
This includes excavating the lot, the equipment you may need to make the location suitable for a buildable lot, and extra foundation work required by building in the mountains. You will need to check how close water, sewer, and electricity is. If any utilities are far away, the cost can be astronomical to bring them to the lot.
Depending on the soil and slope, you may need engineering reports and soil tests–so include those in the cost.
But the cost and utilities aren’t the only issues to consider. It is crucial to consider access to the property. For example, do you like the privacy of trees or the openness of a transparent view? How does the property’s elevation affect the terrain in the winter? Can the path leading to the property be too treacherous?
Is the property too removed from the city or work? If you live deep in the mountains, some of your friends may be unable or unwilling to visit you.
Another vital thing to consider is the lot itself. It is important to remember to look at a topographic map of the lot before you purchase. Something as simple as a stream, creek, many trees, or an abundance of rocks may make it a challenging site to build on.
It is also essential to consider flattening and excavation here. You have to consider whether or not it may be feasible to build on this lot without having to pay an abundance of fees to excavate or flatten the land. Also, as mentioned, some lots may not be able to access public utilities. Will you have to dig a well or septic system?
A regulation to contemplate is the county’s screening requirements. If the land at the downhill facet of the house drops more than twenty-five feet in elevation within a hundred horizontal feet of the house, a screening plan is necessary.
Native plantings must be used to screen the downhill side from view. When your home is adequately screened in a mountain environment, it will look more appealing from afar.
Building on steep land usually involves building on a basement. Homes purchasable within the mountains usually feature “daylight” basements or “walkout” basements.
Recent enhancements in waterproofing technologies mean that basements in newer homes are sometimes very dry, creating basement square footage as valuable as above-grade square footage.
Some steep lots may possibly need a sub-basement or crawl house below the basement. Therefore, it’s vital to judge the vacant lot with your contractor to have a much better plan of what will be required for the home’s foundation.
It is vital to search out who is responsible for snow removal and road maintenance in your neighborhood. The town or county can plow the roads in several areas, or the HOA might have a contract for snow removal.
Find out what access roads can be plowed nearby and if your driveway is included. If you propose building on a remote lot, it is essential to remember that you might need to plow your way after a snowstorm.
Weather and Design
The elevation of your home and intended weather may also influence the design of your home. The orientation of your home and driveway will take the weather into effect, as well as your roof design. A south-facing driveway will help with sun exposure that will help the snow melt faster, and steep roofs will prevent snow buildup.
Zoning and Setbacks
It is important to be aware of zoning for your lot and any setbacks that may occur during the build process. If you want a duplex, make sure you have the correct zoning. Some neighborhoods may even have protective covenants or design guidelines that must be observed.
Some setbacks may also dictate your house’s location and size, but they usually don’t have as big of an impact on larger lots.
Natural Resource Rights
Natural resource rights in the area may include water, mineral, timber, and access rights. Once you have a lot, it is vital to ensure that no one owns the natural resource rights on the land. This can get complicated, so it is important to do your due diligence before buying the plot.
This may all seem like a lot to consider, but the main thing is to find a suitable location for your new home. Building a new home may seem like a daunting task, but it can be a lot easier if you are informed and organized.
Make sure and contact us at Jensen and Company if you’re considering buying property to build your dream home. We have the experience and knowledge to help guide you through the process.