Choosing the right lot is one of the most important tasks associated with the building of a new home. Here are some considerations to help with the process.
- Do you like the land and the surrounding area? Does it feel nice to you?
- How is the view? It is best to visit the lot during a season when the leaves are down.
- How far to your activities: shopping, ski, golf, water, etc. Record the time to travel precisely. A one way trip does not seem long but if you have to go back and forth at least twice a day, the travel time will add up.
- How is it oriented to the sun? The east is a nice side for the morning areas of your house, the west is preferred for the screened porch and dining room. The midday sun of course, will be south. A southern view will be good for a passive solar plan but a northern view is still very nice as your view will always be lit up. A western view should not have too much glass in order to reduce overheating in the afternoon. Eastern view is good as there will be solar gain to heat the house in the morning. Land with leaf trees will give good shade in the summer and allow sun in the winter.
- What is the slope of the land? Can it have a walkout basement? Is there a good natural platform for the building placement?
- Locate a natural flat area for the septic field which would be at a lower elevation than the basement floor. It is often more important than the location for the house.
- Determine where the driveway and parking would run. Note when walking, a slope is often greater than perceived. What may seem like a fine slope is often difficult for a driveway in winter-time.
- What services are required? Most virgin lots require well, septic system, electric power and telephone.
- If possible, determine what the soil conditions of the site are. Most mountain lots have bedrock not far from the surface. Look at past excavated areas such as road ditches to see a cross-section of the soil. If there is an neighbouring structure, look at how its foundation is implanted. See how their septic system was built.
Municipal & Legal considerations:
- Is there a survey plan of the property?
- What are the set-back restrictions?
- Does the property come under the jurisdiction of certain environmental laws? Are there home owners or architectural committees to be consulted?
- Are there any easements or right of ways across or attached to the property?
- Is the road to the property municipal and serviced?
- What are the land taxes? What are taxes of adjacent buildings?
- Identify the location of the neighbour's well and septic , it can affect the placement of yours. Usually wells and septic systems have to be 100 feet apart.
- Are there any streams or spring run-off routes through the lot? A septic system cannot be placed over a run-off lane even if dry 90% of the year. Are there any designated "humid zones" which are deemed "protected" and therefore untouchable?
- What is the amount of tree-clearing allowed based on % of lot? What is the maximun size of foundation allowed based on % of lot? What are the maximum and minimum sizes of house allowed for this lot?
- You can get some of this information by communicating with municipal building departments, surveyors, notary or you can engage Maisons Roco to do the research for you.
Tip: Be equipped when visiting a potential lot. This includes:
- Hiking boots (snowshoes for winter)
- Lot plan
- House plan
- Paper & pen
- Tape measure
- Surveyor's ribbon and/or stakes with hammer