Land Development Considerations – What You Need to Know

May 10, 2021

Many consider the idea of building their personalized dream home, but the process can appear too daunting at times. Between buying land, getting approvals and selecting materials, building a custom home involves a lot of planning and navigating through complex regulations. However, by working with a builder who is prepared to offer guidance with land development and all that it entails, the process becomes a bit simpler.

To help you get started, we put together a few details to consider before embarking on your custom home building process. As a part of our sales process, we construct a land development budget for our clients with many of these pre-construction services; as a disclaimer, many of these services do have a cost associated with them.

What exactly do I need to consider?

Preparation is key here. There are a lot of moving pieces to manage and without a thorough checklist or proper due diligence, the process can become more difficult than it needs to be. 

You’ll want to be sure you and your builder: 

  1. Evaluate the location. In the real estate industry, location is everything. Think about the places and things you want to live close (or not so close) to. Is commuter convenience important? Are you looking for a certain school district? Remember, those can and do change! Do you prefer a quiet space surrounded by greenery? Determine your location priorities and work from there.
  2. Check local regulations. Every state and local municipality has zoning rules, and it’s important to stay mindful of existing expectations when it comes to residential construction. Plan accordingly and tap into your local City or County for zoning information and restrictions you should be aware of, especially when it comes to removing trees from your land or adhering to other environmental restrictions.
  3. Review more local regulations. You don’t always know what exactly could be built around your potential homesite, but local regulations may offer some insight on what to expect. You’ll also want to review any existing infrastructure plans, wetlands and public or private easements that exist upon your potential site.
  4. Get a lay of the land. If possible, walk the entire property. Understand the topography, the features, and the limits of the “building envelope” where the house will be situated. Are you seeking a property where the house will be facing (or backing) into a certain geographic direction for sunlight or overlooking a natural feature such as a pond? Are there existing improvements on the property that need to be considered and factored into your budget such as the demolition of an existing home or outbuilding?
  5. Survey wetlands and other soil conditions through a qualified professional. If your homesite contains running or even standing water, you need to determine whether there are restrictions on construction relating to wetlands.
  6. Understand utilities. You must check whether your home will be connected to a municipal sewer system or will require a septic system. If you are planning on septic, you must perform a percolation test to determine septic feasibility. Are you able to connect to public water? If not, and your water source will be a well, does the well already exist? If a well must be drilled, water tests will be performed to find the ideal location for well depth, pressure and quality. For heat, is natural gas available or will you need to plan for an alternate heating source such as a propane tank? Will utilities be above ground or below? Are you looking for alternative energy sources such as solar?
  7. Determine site access. Make sure you have access to your site. Some building sites have easements that allow for legal access. In rare cases, a building lot may not have any access, and you will need to negotiate an entitlement with an adjacent owner.
  8. Understand your title status. There are multiple forms of title in the US. If you plan to build, you need a clear title without any encumbrances. Encumbrances relate to restrictions, claims and encroachments that can impede your ability to develop a lot.

The advantage of experience and solid relationships.

Land development considerations are just some of the factors that need to be addressed when it comes to building your custom home. That’s where we come in! With Mitchell & Best Next Door, you never have to face these challenges alone. Our close relationships with engineering, environmental and land planning experts, as well as years of experience in working with the government jurisdictions means you’ll always have a team of experts around. From undeveloped land to your first walk-through and beyond, we are here to guide you. 

Our exceptional project management and careful attention to detail have earned us the reputation as a top builder in the area, delivering over 5,000 customized luxury homes to happy new owners throughout Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Following move-in, we provide a home warranty backed by one of the nation’s largest insurance companies, so you can rest easy knowing your home and loved ones are well protected. All you should worry about is how you’ll be enjoying life in your new custom home! 

We’re here to help.

With more than 45 years of experience in this industry, you can trust Mitchell & Best Next Door to properly guide you through the entire custom home building process. From land feasibility and acquisition to interior selections to move-in day and beyond, we are well-versed in all facets of this operation and can help you find exactly what you are looking for. 

Contact us today to get started on your land development and venture into the custom home process!