Learn About Site Selection
God keeps making people, but he quit making land a long time ago!
The site you choose to build on is almost as important as the house itself. Certain parcels lend themselves to certain designs with ease. Other sites are un-compatible with certain types of homes. My job is to make your dream home fit the reality of the “lay of the land” or shape of the lot. The less we have to fight Mother Nature, the more site cost savings will be realized.
If you have not already purchased the land, call me!!
I am available for an hourly fee to review possible sites and give you an honest assessment of the costs involved to make your home fit the lot. I will also advise you on which lots to avoid at all cost.
The most important things to remember when making your site selection are:
► Drainage, Drainage, Drainage
► Location, Location, Location
► The Perfect Lot
► A Perfectly Flat Lot
► Gently Side to One Side Sloped Lots
► What is a Swale?
► What is a Curtain Drain?
► Lots That Slope Uphill From Road Level
► Lots That Slope Downhill From Roads
► Densely Wooded Lots
► Watch for Green Moss
Drainage, Drainage, Drainage
The last thing you want to see is water running to you instead of away from you. Avoid lots in low areas as well as lots that are pancake flat with no place to drain the footings to. Believe it or not, I’ve always felt that the best time to look for lots is when it is raining hard or soon after. So after you have put your umbrella down, reach for your phone and call me!
Location, Location, Location
Be conscience of the neighboring properties. Do you really want to put your dream home right next to a dilapidated structure or train tracks? Try to find areas that have homes of comparable values. Try not to be the most expensive home on the block. Some lots are on town roads while others are on private roads. If it is a private road, perhaps ask one of its residents about the overall yearly costs of maintenance that is usually shared. Inquire about mail delivery as well when looking at lots on private roads. Make sure that your home will not be too far off of the beaten path. Privacy is nice, but could you and your family be within the safe reach of a fire truck or ambulance on a snowy or icy night if they were needed, heaven forbid?
The Perfect Lot
The perfect lot would have a gentle or flat area with good slope beyond for drainage in at least one direction or slightly elevated knoll with drainage slope to any or all sides.
A Perfectly Flat Lot
A perfectly flat lot is not always the best way to go unless you forego a basement.
Why? Because if you install a full basement it will become the lowest point on the property, Thus inviting water with nowhere to drain it to.
Gently Side to One Side Sloped Lots
Gently side to one side sloped lots are good!
Why? Because you could easily facilitate a garage under in basement or have a daylight walk out basement.
What is a Swale?
A swale is a man made grade contour which is used to collect water and divert it in a different direction.
Preferably away from a house or septic system.
What is a Curtain Drain?
A Curtain Drain is a trench 4’ – 5’ deep with a pipe near the bottom and stone back fill. They are used to collect both surface water as well as subsurface (springs) water and divert it thus alleviating excess moisture at a foundation and/or septic system. They tend to be costly depending on length and depth!
Lots That Slop Uphill From Road Level
Lots that slope uphill from road level pose special site challenges.
Why? Because your main concern will be diverting water from up hill from running directly down into your house. A Swale or Curtain Drain may be needed to rectify this. Your home may also need extra steps or retaining walls in order to reach the front entry thus adding costs and creating aesthetic issues. This type of lot usually has a steeply pitched driveway as well.
Lots That Slop Downhill From Roads
Lots that slope downhill from roads pose a similar drainage issue to lots that slope uphill from road level.
Why? Because a Swale or Curtain Drain may be needed in order to divert runoff from the road away from house. Rear yard maybe of limited use due to severity of slope. Usually a walk out basement is possible to rear yard.
Densely Wooded Lots
Branch Managers… When preparing a site for construction I try to preserve as many trees as possible, only disturbing the ones that will unfortunately fall directly into the area of the septic system, driveway and main structure including a twenty-five foot radius buffer around the structure. I personally feel that it is a shame to unnecessarily remove any tree(s) which took at least twenty-five years to grow and only twenty-five minutes to destroy.
Mature trees give a site such a nicer look from the road and also provide shade which can help keep your home cooler in the summer. Of course, on the flip side, you have to keep your gutters clean, and wooded lots have higher development costs(but it’s definitely worth it!)
Why? Because the cost of cutting and clearing the appropriate amount of foliage, excavation and carting of stumps will add several thousand dollars to site work.
Watch for Green Moss
Watch for Green Moss growing close to the ground in patches!
Why? Green Moss could be a strong indicator of shallow bed rock or shale ridge formation below the surface.
The remedy? Blasting may be needed thus adding cost.
*Please remember, all of the above lot shapes are buildable, but some cause higher site work costs.
*It is always best to have a qualified professional look at the site you are interested in before any purchase is made.
*I am available by appointment to help you make the right decision regarding land selection. The wrong decision could end up being very costly and impact the long term value of your investment.
*A good lot, even if slightly more expensive, will always be the better choice over a not so good lot which will need thousands of dollars of machine time and labor just to make it marginally usable.