Armchair Builder

Land Selection for Building a Home

One of the major steps in the planning for building a home is the land selection or building lot purchase.  Whether the home will be built in an existing neighborhood or in a more rural setting, there are some critical items that should be analyzed to ensure an efficient build.  Let’s take a look at some of the items in land selection that can blow a new house construction budget in a hurry if they aren’t identified early in the process.

Proximity to Resources

We sometimes forget just how many products need to be shipped out to a job site when building a new home.  From concrete to hardwood flooring, every item that goes into the home must be moved from the retail or warehouse location to the site for construction.  The farther away the building site is to the resources required, the higher the cost will be for shipping.  Be sure to make a note to check all of your bid sheets when they come back from vendors to see what the extra cost will be for delivery.

Lot Selection and Access

Construction in Mountains Makes for Costly Deliveries

If the land selection to build on is far off the beaten path, you may want to ask specifically how the delivery will work including dates and times delivery is offered as well as costs involved.  Some suppliers limit delivery to certain geographical areas to once or twice a week.  What if you need an extra ten 2×4 studs after framing starts?  How much is this going to cost you to get the material to the job and when can it be delivered?  The last thing you need is to have a five person framing crew standing around waiting for material.

Land Selection and Site Access

Once the delivery trucks get to the site, it’s important to have enough space to store the materials.  Things like stone fill, lumber, trusses, and steel can all take up a considerable amount of space.  And remember, the construction site will be a busy place which means all of the workers and other equipment will still need access.  So it’s important that deliveries do not block access for other trades and suppliers.  For smaller pieces of land where space is limited, the person managing the job site will need to pay close attention to the deliveries in the new home schedule.

Roof Truss Delivery

Roof Truss Delivery

It’s also very important to direct deliveries so that existing work and resources are protected.  Remember, some of the trucks coming out to the site can weigh many tons, which can cause serious damage and extra cost.  Here are some items to watch out for…

  • Curbs – Don’t allow concrete trucks or heavy equipment to cross directly over curbs or damage will result.  Damaged street curbs can be very expensive to remove and replace.
  • Utilities – Just because the sewer line was installed and buried, doesn’t mean you can forget about it.  Driving a heavy truck or machine over a newly backfilled trench can crush a sewer line and be a major safety hazard to the truck and driver.  It’s also important to clearly identify water stop boxes and sewer cleanout risers so they will be seen by delivery drivers.  Running over a water stop box can crush the water line below, causing hundreds of dollars in damage and creating headaches for the armchair builder.
  • Trees – Trees should be protected to prevent root damage.  In most cases, a safety fence should be placed out to the drip line to keep workers and delivery drivers from damaging the tree roots.

Room to Work

Another major item to think about for land selection that will have a major impact on a house budget is the site maneuverability.  In some instances, the home may be designed in such a way that concrete trucks can’t get to all four corners of the future building.  This can add major expense if a concrete pump truck needs to be used for footings and foundation walls (see photo below of a pump truck in action).  Gone are the days where wheelbarrows are used to physically move concrete from the truck to the placement location.  This can be too dangerous and even costly with the price of labor.  Pump trucks can add $1500 to $2000 per day depending on the equipment required.

Pump Truck

Concrete Pump Truck Used on Small Lot for Foundation


Other heavy equipment needing access around the new home include:

  • Back Hoe/Excavator – to dig for the foundation
  • Bulldozer – to backfill the foundation (sometimes a Bobcat/skidsteer can be used)
  • Fork Lift – this will move lumber and wall panels for carpenters

For more information and builder tips for things to watch out for in land selection, check out the Armchair Builder Lot Purchase Guide.

Lumber Fork Lift

Fork Lift for Lumber


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