Selecting a Site

Before you buy that lot… Selecting the right site for your custom home

You’ve made the decision to build your home, now the question is: which comes first, the land or the design?  You cannot commit to a design before we see the site, but there are several general conditions to consider before committing to a piece of land.  If you’re looking at buying a lot for your new custom home, you need to consider some important factors as you, and your architect, tour sites.

  • Location, location, location, as the old adage goes, is a major factor in the decision to build a home. It is wise to use a local real estate agent in your search, so long as the agent’s commission is not tied to the new house build.
  • You will want to consider lifestyle choices such as planned community density (number of homes per acre) and privacy concerns. Keep in mind that an empty site will look much different once it has been cleared for construction and now there is a neighbor 25’ away.
  • You also want to make sure that you know the community covenants and local rules governing the site, such as minimum square footage, utility responsibility, building materials, and whether you’ll be allowed to do things such as install solar panels or build fences.
  • Additionally, you’ll want to investigate builder options before you buy a site. Some sites use only one builder (usually the one that has developed the community), while others work from a closed builder list. You’ll want to make sure you will be able to work with the builder your architect recommends, and not be locked into one that doesn’t fit with your team.

Once you’ve found a few lots you like, you should review them with your architect and talk about the design of your home. Technically, you will want to find out all the setbacks and required easements.  Then we can move onto all the fun stuff such as the views you will see from each room, orientation of the house (where and when sunlight hits the home), and how the shape and topography of the lot will affect the design of the home.

While working with an architect to choose a site is best, I’ve also designed many homes on lots that the homeowner bought before our meeting.  Sometimes we need to get more creative to bring in light to a north facing room, or create a walk-up basement with a sunken patio instead of the walk-out basement they were envisioning, but we can get there.

Selecting your site is such an important first step.  Do a little bit of work and bring your architect on board before you commit.  This one step will be your best start to the home you love.

Schedule a free consultation with the Springhouse Architects team to discuss the site for your new custom home!


Lisa Saldivar