Buying a Vacant Lot to Build a Home – What to Watch Out For
If you can’t find your dream home, you might have decided to create paradise from scratch by purchasing some vacant land and constructing a house. But before you get serious about looking at vacant lots, it’s important to know what surprises a transaction like this might bring to the table.
Dealing with a land purchase comes with its own set of complexities that range from zoning and easement restrictions to the property’s environmental conditions. Some of these issues can be costly and will transform your affordable new home project into the stuff of financial nightmares. Before you start down this path, here are several things to watch out for when you buy a vacant lot.
Review Local Government and Amenities
The first place you should start is at the town or city hall where the vacant lot is located. When you buy a piece of land to build a home, you will want to investigate many of the same issues that you would if you bought an existing home.
Some of the things that you should research online and figure out downtown include:
- How are the schools in the area?
- Is the local government well-run or are there budget and infrastructure problems?
- What is your proximity to shopping, healthcare, and entertainment venues?
- Is there public transportation?
- What about parks, recreation, and other green spaces?
Understand Zoning and Environmental Issues
You also want to find out if there are going to be any zoning or easement issues where you wish to build. Is the land already zoned for a single-family home or will you need to apply to have this zoning changed? If you have to change it, find out what expense is involved. Also, find out about future zoning projects. You may not wish to build a home next door to where there is an airport or shopping center planned.
Is your land subject to an easement? What this means is that there might be a road going through the land that you will share in the cost to maintain. Do neighbors have the legal right to cross your land?
If you are building in the country, there may be some environmental issues that could be costly. If you are planning to change the elevation of the land, can you do this and how much will it cost? Are there any environmental hazards on the land or protected wildlife or wetlands that will prevent you from carrying out your plans?
Check Out Land & Building Permit Obligations
Finally, before you buy any vacant lot to build a home on, you should make sure that you will be able to get all of the approvals and permits associated with your project. These include but may not be limited to:
- Public Water & Sewer. Does your land already have access to the town or city water and sewer service? If a hookup is available, confirm that you will be permitted to do this. If not, you will have to explore other options.
- Private Water & Sewer. Even if you decide on a private well and septic system, getting a permit for these isn’t guaranteed. State and local regulations will determine your eligibility based on factors such as soil quality, distance from lot lines, and height of groundwater.
- Building. Confirm that you will be able to access the building permits for the size and type of home that you want to have built on the lot.
- Title issues. Research the historic ownership of the land to make sure that there aren’t any issues with the title that could jeopardize your purchase.
Experienced Real Estate Attorneys in Maryland and Washington
Real estate matters can be complicated, and this is particularly the case when you are dealing with issues related to land development. At the Law Offices of Matthew S. Evans, III, our real estate attorneys have more than 20 years of combined experience assisting clients with a variety of real estate issues.
Contact our office now at 410-626-6009 or reach us online to schedule a consultation and learn more about the ways our qualified legal team can protect your rights and help you achieve your goals.