Jeff Pearl Homes AR Blog: Ten Concerns When Buying Land and Building

Ten Concerns When Buying Land and Building

There are several good reasons for buying land and building your own house. Maybe you just want to customize a house that fits your family and needs. Maybe you're tired of losing bidding wars. Maybe you have 6-9 months left on a lease and don't want to continue renting. Whatever the reason, you have decided to buy land and build. Where to start? The process is different than buying a resale.

(1) You'll need an experienced loan officer and lender that understands and finances new construction.

(2) You'll need at least 4 copies of blueprints. You can buy house plans then make some adjustments to them, or hire an architect to draw them.

(3) You'll need a building lot. How many acres will depend on what you're going to do with the land. Nothing but build a house, garage, and maybe a pool, farm it, raise livestock, train horses, etc?

(4) Zoning and location. Where do you want to live that works for commuting, and your lifestyle?

(5) You should find an agent familiar with all phases of buying land and building.

(6) You'll need an experienced builder. Are you going to stick build, or have a modular delivered?

(7) Once you've zeroed in on workable locations, you will have to start looking at and evaluating lots.

(8) You'll have to get familiar with reading survey plats, and verifying information at your county building and health departments.

(9) You'll need to understand wells and drain fields, and conventional and alternative septic systems.

(10) You'll need to research Access, ingress and egress easements, utility easements, flood plains, building setbacks, deed restrictions, building height limits, maximum ground coverage, road maintenance agreements, etc.

 Many of items 1-10 will have varying prices which can affect building costs by several thousand dollars. For example, conventional septic systems with gravity fall can costs $6-$10,000.00. An alternative system that requires more engineering and a pump chamber can cost $40 - $60,000.00, plus requires an annual maintenance contract.  So you need to know the maximum amount you can spend ahead of time.

 There are additional factors that need to be analyzed, but 1-10 above can give you a good feel of what to expect. This 3.7 acre lot in Lovettsville is listed for $156,000.00, has an approved 4 BDR conventional drain field site, 360 degree mountain views, no HOA or covenants, is 40% open and 60% wooded. The knoll in center of the photo consists of 1 acre and offers several locations to build a home. The drain field site in just down hill on edge of woods so you have gravity fall and no pump needed. This view is looking over Lovettsville Rd at bottom of hill, and Leesburg is to the right and Point of Rocks is to the left. Call me if interested. We also have a 2.7 acre lot next to this one that is ready to build and listed for $141,000.00. Both of these lots are convenient to Towns, Hospitals, 3 public boat launches, hiking-biking-horseback riding trails on the C&O Canal Towpath, numerous Civil War sites and parks, Sugarloaf Mountain, several wineries, two MARC commuter train stations to DC. ( One at Point of Rocks and one at Brunswick), etc.

lovettsville lots

Jeff Pearl

Remax Distinctive


Homes | Land | Farms | Historic

Comment balloon 21 commentsJeff Pearl • January 16 2017 09:50PM


Thank you for educational post on land and new construction.

Posted by MichelleCherie Carr Crowe Just Call...408-252-8900, Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years (Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty) about 3 years ago

Jeff Pearl,

Thank you, important data for buying land.

Posted by Shahar Hillel, Mortgage Consultant, Loan Officer. (Augusta Financial Inc.) about 3 years ago

Jeff Pearl These are excellent concerns when buying land and building.

Posted by John Pusa, Your All Time Realtor With Exceptional Service (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Crest) about 3 years ago

Hello Jeff Pearl,  Excellent blog and one that we all need more education on.  Make it a great evening.


Posted by Will Hamm, "Where There's a Will, There's a Way!" (Hamm Homes) about 3 years ago

Hi Jeff- Being able to buy and build what you want can be attractive but you point out excellent concerns that buyers need to be aware of. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) about 3 years ago

                               Thank you Jeff Pearl 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) about 3 years ago

There's so much more that meets the eye when deciding whether or not to build. You've opened them a bit wider with this post Jeff. Here via Kathy!

Posted by Kevin J. May, Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida (Florida Supreme Realty) about 3 years ago

Yes, purchasing land and building a house is a different process than purchasing and already built home. Interesting information!

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (406-270-3667,, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty) about 3 years ago


Thank you sharing this information. 

I bookmarked your blog to reference later.

Learning more each day

Posted by Noel Mayer, YOU WILL BE RIGHT AT HOME WITH NOEL (FAIRMOUNT REALTORS) about 3 years ago

Good morning Jeff. Many subsurface considerations that many never think of! Call Jeff! Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) about 3 years ago

Many buyers don't realize all the hidden costs involved. In my area of Sedona, I have seen some projects go for years!

Posted by Sheri Sperry - MCNE®, (928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR® (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) about 3 years ago

Whenever someone wants to buy land to build, I always refer them to an associate I know who knows this stuff inside and out.  We may have the licensed ability to do it, but that doesn't mean we should if we have no clue what we are doing.  Obviously, you do.

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) about 3 years ago

Wow, there's a lot to think about to make building on one's own land come to fruition.  I would refer to a specialist who has experience in such matters, and hope to learn from that agent.

Posted by Beth Bromund, REALTOR (248) 651-3500 (Coldwell Banker Weir Manuel) about 3 years ago

Lately I have to deal with septic field stuff again.  I do not want to identify the septic field again.... Ugh.

Posted by Sam Shueh, mba, cdpe, reopro, pe ( (408) 425-1601) about 3 years ago

Hi Jeff

This is a pretty comprehensive list of things to consider. In the early phase checking on the lot itself - easements, permitted usage, access to utilities, lot lines - is essential to avoid any surprises. I had a lot buyer find a number of issues when his attorney did a review of the easements, and the lot survey yielded a big problem with an encroaching fence.


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (Solutions Real Estate ) about 3 years ago

Great post!  I can see why Kathy chose to high light it this week!

Posted by Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®, Giving Back With Each Home Sold! (RE/MAX Realty Center ) about 3 years ago

Jeff, right now vacant lots are ALL that people are looking at recently! We are in a lake community and have HOAs, but they aren't the "Gestapo". This gives me some fodder for a future post, thank you! 

Posted by Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate, "Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905 (John L Scott Market Center) about 3 years ago

Thank-you for a great list to share with buyers thinking about building.  Even when one buys a new build from a developer in a new subdivision they are often overwhelmed at the involvement needed.  Buying a lot and building is not for the faint of heart!

Posted by Shirley Coomer, Realtor, Keller Williams Realty, Phoenix Az (Keller Williams Realty Sonoran Living) about 3 years ago

Excellent information on buying land. I've done it and it can be very intimidating. Lucky for us we had a very experienced builder we trusted.

Posted by Sharon Tara, New Hampshire Home Stager (Sharon Tara Transformations) about 3 years ago

Great list of things to be aware of.  Do you also have to do any kind of historic/archeoligical survey in your area before building?

Posted by Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089, Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info (Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers) about 3 years ago

All important things to be prepared for Jeff, it really pays to have an agent to help with these who knows this unique niche.

Posted by Bob Crane, Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671 (Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, Keller Williams Fox Cities) almost 3 years ago