Armchair Builder

Building Site Selection

Building Site Selection

Building Site Selection

Building site selection is one of the most important aspects to a successful home project.  Most people know the market value of the completed home will be affected by the location of the building lot.  Things like schools, views, and neighborhood will be a major consideration for future buyers when selling.  These are obvious but what about the items that can create future flooding problems?  Or how about those building site characteristics that will increase the cost to build in a major way?  Let’s take a look at these from a builder’s viewpoint.

Proximity to Bodies of Water

Most people think of a water view as a positive but before you go there, let’s look at some of the things that you might want to investigate before purchasing.

  • Maintenance – Who maintains the water portion and the area surrounding it?  Stagnant water can create problems with smells, mosquitoes, and other vermin.  Is there a maintenance plan for treating algae and other insects problems?
  • Rising Water Levels – All bodies of water rise from heavy rainfall, obstructions in the flow, or wind action.  If the water rises, how will it affect the location of the proposed building site?  Ask for the normal and high water levels of the adjacent bodies of water (This level is expressed in terms of feet above mean sea level).  The basement floor should be a minimum of six inches above the normal water level height.
  • Hazard – Bodies of water can be dangerous for children.  Find out who will own the actual water body.  In many states, the adjacent lot owner owns to the center of a non-navigable creek or stream.  You will want to check with your homeowner’s insurance provider to see how this might affect your premiums.

Building Site Elevation

It’s always good to look at potential building sites and see how they fit into the overall community.  Remember, communities are designed by civil engineers to manage rainwater runoff.  So in coming up with the design, the engineers look at the whole community to make sure it all works together.  Have you heard the expression…”it all rolls down hill.”  This applies very well to rainwater runoff in a community.  It’s not ideal to be at the lowest point in the community because when heavy rains hit, any backup in storm drains or streams can cause major damage.

Storm Drains

This brings us to the next item to look out for on a potential building site…drains.  It’s necessary sometimes to install storm drains in the rear yards to provide adequate drainage.  Unfortunately, this becomes a constant maintenance issue.  If leaves or other debris obstruct the drain, problems will result.  You will also want to look for any larger culverts or large stormwater drainage structures that are close to the building site.  Find out who is responsible for maintaining these.

Soil Type

The type of soil beneath the building site will greatly affect your budget and future foundation drainage.  It’s a good idea to do some preliminary investigating to find out what lies beneath the surface.  Removal of rock can cost an absolute fortune.  Remember you need to remove it from the foundation location and remove it from site.  This can cost tens of thousands of dollars.  If it is soil below the surface, it’s good to have an idea what type for designing the drainage system and footings for the home.  For example, clay can create problems for the drainage system on your building site as it retains water.  Sand on the other hand, can actually help drain the area around the foundation.

If you’re looking for more builder tips for selecting the building site for your new home, you may want to check out the Armchair Builder Lot Purchase Guide.  To see all of the resources available to help you save money on your dream home, stop by our e-Store. 

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