Building a new home is exciting. For many families, it represents the project of a lifetime. Some homeowners find designing a home within a developed suburban neighborhood an ideal solution, while others yearn to tame a rugged landscape and construct a house without limitations. If you’re beginning the journey and are considering where to build your dream home, there are several pros and cons of building in a subdivision versus undeveloped land to consider.
In many ways, building within a subdivision is easier. The land developer has already done much of the preparation work for you. Any pre-requisites with the city’s zoning requirements have already been met, lots have been plotted and pre-approved for development, and questions about homeowners associations have been clarified.
On the other hand, since these decisions have already been made, the builder has less discretion. Homes in a subdivision may be subject to minimum and maximum square footage, have specific requirements about home style or exterior building materials and be limited to one or two-story structures. Generally, homes in a subdivision are subject to consistent set-back provisions to create a uniform appearance.
When you build on undeveloped, rural properties, you have much more choice and control. Often, your only limitations for your home’s location are accessibility to utilities, soil grade quality, and easements. Houses can usually be as big or as small as desired; however, there’s usually a requirement around land size allocation per home (e.g., one home per acre of land). If creativity is important for your build, your choices to build a log cabin or a medieval fortress are wide open on undeveloped land.
Subdivision developers are responsible for creating the streets connecting all the lots in the neighborhood. Street development is costly and involves storm drains, leveling, asphalt and concrete work, sidewalks, street lamps, centralized mailboxes, and adherence to ADA regulations. Often, most of this work is completed before the first home begins construction.
Typically, none of this exists for rural construction, and the requirements for roadways will differ from one county to the next. However, if you decide to build on an undeveloped parcel of land, you should be prepared to work with an excavation crew to clear a roadway and lay down gravel before any work can begin on the property. Whether the final road is paved or remains gravel, homeowners should budget annually for repairs and upkeep.
Most subdivisions are hooked up to city sewer systems, and basic utilities such as electricity and water are already accessible before the beginning of construction. Homeowners are generally responsible only for their lines and pipes from the home to the primary connection in the street. Typically, other popular utilities such as cable television or broadband are also installed in new subdivisions when other utilities are installed in the streets.
On a rural, undeveloped plot of land, there are no pre-existing utilities. One of the first steps may be to obtain a septic permit and plan where your septic tank and drain field will sit. Next, your contractor will need to apply for permits and arrange for electricity and water. The costs for bringing utilities to a parcel of land are typically dependent on how near or far the closest existing location of these utilities is. Cable television and wired internet services may be unavailable, leaving homeowners to rely on satellite services.
Begin your project with consultation from professionals.
Before you invest in a parcel of property, it’s important to consult with professionals who can walk you through all of the land use issues you need to consider. At Richard Stevens & Associates, we specialize in assisting our clients with obtaining rural and urban land use permits. We can help you consider the pros and cons of different properties so you’ll feel confident about your final decision. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you bring your dream home to life.