Armchair Builder

Buying Land to Build Your Dream Home

Buying Land to Build a Home

Buying land to build your dream home can be exciting but be sure to keep in mind all of the important items to review prior to purchasing.  Price, location and views may be important, but they are just the beginning.  There are some major things to look out for that come with hidden costs and potentially major hassles.  We recently looked at a lot outside of a traditional development to build a home on.  Let’s take a look at some of the issues that can create challenges and additional costs for building your dream home.

No Power

This particular lot does not have electric run to it.  The good news is, there’s plenty of sun for solar panels to power the home.  However this adds a big expense to your budget for the panels, installation, and batteries for storing the energy to use at night.  So, we will be contacting the local electric company to find out how much it will cost to add two electric poles to bring the power to the site.

Another potential way to save is to contact adjacent land owners to see if they would be willing to share the cost to bring the power in.  The electric service will benefit everyone…even those that don’t plan on building a home.  Having electric run to a piece of land will make it more valuable.

Buying land without electrical power run to the site can be a problem in some locations.  If the amount of sunshine doesn’t hit a certain level, there won’t be enough power to properly run the home.  One alternative is to use a backup generator that runs off of natural or propane gas.

No Sewer

There are no sewer lines anywhere near this particular site and it won’t be available anytime soon.  However, the adjacent land owner has built a home and installed a septic system with no major problems.  This is good news as some soils make it difficult to install septic without major expense.  You may want to have the soil tested before buying land that requires a septic system.  This test, sometimes called a perc test (a.k.a. percolation), will give you an idea of the type of system required along with the cost for installation.

Buying Land with Catchment System

No Water

Ok, so this one is a deal breaker for most people when buying land.  The convenience of having a public water supply is one we sometimes take for granted…until we don’t have it.  You can ask the people affected by Superstorm Sandy about this one.

But if you like the idea of living off the grid, then this might interest you.  It would be too expensive to install a well on this property due to the rock below.  However, there is plenty of rain in this area to install a catchment system.  With a catchment system, a special roof is installed on the home to collect the water and divert it to a tank.  This roof needs to keep the water clean so a special material is needed that will cost more money.  The tank will need to be sized based on the average rainfall and the expected use from the new  home.  There will also be additional requirements for the pump system for emergency responders to use in the event of a fire.

Not having a public water supply is definitely not a deal breaker, but it will add significant money to the cost of the project.

Lot Purchase Guide

We’ve created a new guide to help you identify all of the potential issues before buying land to build your dream home.  We call this the Lot Purchase Guide.  It will help you uncover hidden costs and potential problems prior to purchasing.  You can learn more about the guide at our ESTORE or in this video.

Other Resources for Buying Land

Here is a list of resources we have at Armchair Builder to help you when buying land to build your dream home.  Be sure to go through them thoroughly to avoid purchasing a property that doesn’t fit your budget or worse yet, doesn’t fit your dream home plan.


Building Your Own House:  Choosing a Lot or Land

Lot Purchase Part I

Lot Purchase Part II

Lot Purchase Guide


Lot Purchase:  Builder Tips Part I

Lot Purchase:  Builder Tips Part II

Here is a short video showing discussing some of the issues to be concerned with when buying land outside of subdivision.

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