Buying land to build a new home can be an exciting project. You have the ability to create the home you want from scratch, from the bathroom to the backyard. Of course, looking for the right piece of land for your new home can be the tricky part. A wooded lot just outside of town might seem like the perfect spot on the surface, but problems with drainage or limited zoning ordinances could restrict your ability to build what you want there.
Here is a checklist of questions you should ask before buying and piece of property for a new home.
What are the zoning restrictions?
Zoning ordinances vary from town to town in New Hampshire, and different restrictions apply to different parts of these towns. For instance, a “village district” might require a minimum half-acre lot for a new home, while a “rural district” might require a 3-acre lot. The size of the home, including the number and size of out-buildings allowed, can also depend on the zoning. In some communities, there are even limitations on the kind of materials allowed or the design of the building, especially in historic areas. Make sure the home you envision is allowed on the land you hope to buy.
How wet is it?
If there are delineated wetlands on the property or the water table is especially high there, it may limit your ability to use the property. If there is no public sewer in the area, a soil “perc test” should be done to see if the land can support a septic system.
What is my water source?
Is public water available or will you need a well? Some new subdivisions have shared well water systems that require a fee for use and upkeep. In New Hampshire, all wells that have been drilled in the past 30 years are recorded by the state. You can use this information to find out how deep your neighbors had to drill for water. Town health departments may also keep records about local well water quality, too.
How much work needs to be done to build?
Cutting down trees, blasting into ledge and building long driveways can add significant cost to building your home. Before buying, look into the geology of the property, the grade and if there are any drainage issues.
Does your design fit the land?
Does your dream home design include floor-to-ceiling windows for taking in great views, or roof solar panels for heating hot water? Make sure the lot fits in with your dream plans. If the lot is heavily wooded, has a steep grade or a beautiful view, factor that into your designs.
What are the future plans for the area?
If you are putting all this effort into building a home, you’re likely going to want to live there for many years. If so, take the time to ask the town offices what the plans for the area are in the next decade. Communities are required to create a “master plan” that lays out the vision for the town. Will there be extensive development in your area? Are there plans to add industrial or manufacturing districts nearby? Will there be a road expansion or new housing developments. This is especially important to ask if you’re building a new home to seek privacy.
Are there easements or other deed restrictions on the property?
Landowners can negotiate easements and other deed restrictions without it having much impact on the property. Conservation easements are a popular way for landowners to preserve an especially beautiful part of their property, but it could keep future owners from building the home they want. Also be wary or rights-of-way which could allow utilities or town workers to cut trees and develop the land for roads or power lines.
Dube Plus Construction has been building homes in New Hampshire for nearly two decades and can answer your questions about the process.