It’s for real this time. You’ve decided it’s time to finally build that country home you’ve been dreaming of. Only one issue stands in your way, and it’s a big one:
How do you choose the right lot for sale to build on?
It’s certainly a tricky question to answer, especially given the seemingly overwhelming number of factors to take into consideration (regulations, utilities, topography, etc.). Not only that, but the value of your lot will also have a massive impact on the overall value of your property. This is a very large investment – not something to be taken lightly.
The customary practice with most home builders is for prospective customers to purchase a lot, and then begin the process of building their custom home with their builder of choice. Fortunately for prospective customers, most acreage home builders are hardened veterans when it comes to country real estate. They will usually provide a bevy of advisory services in land purchasing, regulations, and utilities. To advise you through this process, I’ve prepared a small guide designed to educate real estate buyers on the plethora of factors to consider when purchasing an acreage lot – as it turns out, there are a lot of them (pun intended). For your convenience, I’ve grouped each item into categories, which will be denoted as the headers in this article. They are listed in descending order of importance and budgetary impact. However, be mindful that even the lowest items on the list are still vital to your overall property. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
VERY IMPORTANT: Topography and Development Regulations
While topography may sound like a rather boring subject to discuss, it is critically important when shopping for an acreage lot for sale. The slope of your lot (that is, the vertical inclination on which your house sits) largely determines the draining capabilities of your home. As such, proper drainage will be critical to the operations of your future house’s water and septic systems – in fact, it is arguably more important than the actual design of these systems! While drainage capability remains the most paramount of factors relating to topography, a few other key considerations rely heavily on it as well. Most notably, the orientation of your home will be directly affected by topography. Depending on the location of the lot for sale, you may want to orient your home in such a way that you never miss that beautiful Alberta sunset, or perhaps in another position to always catch a glimpse of the stunning Rocky Mountains on the far horizon. Either way, balancing desirable home orientation with the proper level of elevation can rapidly become complex and arduous, which is why having advice from an acreage building pro like Eric’s Homes can be very beneficial! Directly related to elevation, the length and width of your driveway is another crucial factor to consider as well: the cost quickly adds up, even with a gravel driveway.
Development regulations is the other critically important factor to recognize in this leveled approach. Most acreage developments are governed by sets of rules, standards and procedures that each home owner is to contractually abide by. Set by the developer, these regulations are usually wide-ranging, applying to such diverse topics as animals (typical “pets”, but also horses, llamas, cows, chickens, etc.), exterior home design or driveway length. While certain developers rule their acreage communities with an iron fist, many are also quite lenient and permissive in their development standards. As you can probably imagine, these regulations play a vital role in your selection of the perfect lot for sale. Almost invariably, these regulations have the power to make or break your home building project. It is recommended to study wisely the regulations of your potential acreage communities of choice and seek the advice of veterans seasoned in navigating these murky regulatory waters.
IMPORTANT: Utilities, Commute & Schools
As opposed to building a home in the city, utilities can become a rather fastidious affair when building an acreage property. Since many acreages are often located in “remote” areas, many utility services are provided by different companies than your typical culprits (Telus, Bell, Shaw, etc.). As such, it is important to recognize that your level of service quality may be completely different from what you would usually receive in the city (this is especially true of the Internet). On the other hand, essential utilities like heating, electricity and water are all relatively straightforward in their implementation, although many properties often require custom installations to be successfully access services in the country. Likely, your biggest investment utilities-wise will stem from the septic system – the excavation, design and material costs make it a very sizable expense, albeit a necessary one.
On a lighter note, it is also very important to take into consideration your typical commute when choosing the perfect lot for sale. Although it may not sound like much, an extra 10 minutes both ways really adds up over the long haul. Wise buyers will typically forecast their occupational outlooks and decide on whether they can manage their new daily commute. Without a doubt, this is a much larger issue with acreages: given the anticipated “remoteness” of many lots for sale and long distance from any large settlements, acreage living can be a daunting proposition for ambitious professionals. As for schools, the issue is less aggravating. Given the excellent public education system in the region, it’s unlikely that your children experience a downgrade in their education due to your move to the countryside. What’s more, most schools provide bus service to most country areas around the Foothills region, granting relative peace of mind to busy parents. Nevertheless, such positive circumstance are not guaranteed; therefore, it is important to seek out this vital information from the school district as soon as the prospect of a move on an acreage lot comes up.
Other Key Considerations
Your lot may come outfitted with a variety of landscape features, all of which you will have to assess. Features like trees, water bodies, and hills are all essential elements when choosing a lot. Certain buyers love the “forested” look that a broad range of trees provides (although that is quite rare in Alberta) where as others may prefer a bare lot decked out with a tasteful water piece (i.e. a stream, pond, or small lake).
Another useful exercise is to attempt to imagine what the area will look like five to ten years from today. While you may currently enjoy the area, it’s very likely that it changes dramatically in years to come: new construction, business development and real estate expansion can all potentially alter your chosen acreage community, perhaps transforming it in something much different than what you had previously envisioned.
Wrapping it Up
Every potential buyer will have a vastly distinct experience choosing the perfect lot for sale as every buyer is unique in both their site requirements and purchasing approach. Nevertheless, this guide outlined some of the most critical elements to consider when choosing the perfect acreage lot to build on. However, be mindful that it did not attempt at being completely exhaustive either. It’s undeniable that topography and development regulations will be some of your key factors to consider, but also take the time to examine other critical (but perhaps less so) aspects like utilities and estimated commute. While your hunt for the ideal lot may be a long one, with this guide you will be sure that it is a successful one!