No matter what your purpose, buying a plot of vacant land comes with its own unique set of concerns. This is especially true, when you’re buying land with the intention of building a primary residence. Here are a few things to look out for, when shopping for a plot of land.
Make Sure You Understand the Zoning Requirements
There are many points to consider here and, if the zoning regulations aren’t to your liking, you may not win a fight to have them changed. Consider whether the zoning laws will affect your ability to build the type of structure you intend to build. For instance, a suburb of Sacramento, California prohibits building any structure on less than 20 acres of land. Also inquire about future zoning plans. You don’t want to build your home just to find out you’ll soon be living next to a strip mall or an airport.
Pay Attention to Your Senses
When you’re visiting the property, do more than look with your eyes. There are some things you just can’t notice on a realtor’s website. Are there many planes flying overhead, or is there a set of train tracks nearby? Similarly, do you hear farm animals, or is their scent a little too powerful? If these experiences overwhelm you now, imagine living with them 24 hours a day.
Look at the Formation of the Land
Is the property near a hill or on uneven land? If so, it may be exposed to frequent mudslides or a shifting of the land. This can cause any foundation you build to become unstable and may even crack. Similarly, if your plot of land is near water or below sea level, flooding can pose a risk. Depending on the severity of the flooding, you may still be able to build by putting your home on a raised foundation.
Don’t Get Too Neighborly
When you’re buying a home, it’s often a good idea to talk to the neighbors. This can help you get a better idea about the area, as far as crime, schools, etc. It’s a little different, when you’re looking for a vacant plot of land. People living in the area have grown accustomed to that plot of land being vacant. All of a sudden, you come along and want to build a new home, creating the burdensome nature of construction and possibly taking away the field where their children play. These are just some of the reasons area residents may try to block your plans.
The Equivalent of a Home Inspection
You wouldn’t skimp on the home inspection, when buying a house. Neither should you skip the land survey and environmental tests. For starters, the environmental tests can keep you from buying a plot of land that may pose health risks to you and your family. For instance, a service station or mechanic may have used the property at some point, which means gasoline, oil, and other contaminants may be present in the soil.
Additionally, a land survey can make sure the area’s residents haven’t encroached on your property. If they have adopted portions of the land as their own, you might prefer to look elsewhere instead of facing property line battles with multiple neighbors.
These are some of the most important factors to consider, when buying vacant land. Of course, there’s much more to know and you may want to continue your own research, before beginning your search. The better educated you are, the more likely you are to find a plot of land ideally suited to your needs.