Buying Land and Building Your Dream Home: A Comprehensive Guide


September 19, 2023

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Adam Foley

The allure of owning a slice of pristine Northwestern paradise and building your dream home is undeniable. Before diving into the enthralling journey of land acquisition and construction in the Northwest, let’s embark on a detailed exploration. In this article, we’ll highlight the pros, cons, and financial nuances of this venture, aiming to guide you smoothly past any potential pitfalls.

The Advantages of Purchasing Land and Building

At the heart of the matter, acquiring undeveloped land in the Northwest is like having a blank canvas for your grandest visions. It provides you the autonomy to shape your dream home from scratch. Many find that their existing homes require some compromise – perhaps in size, road proximity, or privacy. Embarking on this journey can free you from those constraints, allowing for a no-compromise residence.

Additionally, there’s the allure of reduced competition. Unlike the cutthroat world of existing homes, the undeveloped land market is less saturated. This can be a major benefit, especially given today’s heated housing landscape where pre-built homes are highly sought after.

Delving into the financial aspect, while buying an existing home is often more economical than constructing a new one, the narrative shifts when building in high-value areas such as Bainbridge. Consider this: a 1-3 acre plot on Bainbridge has a median value of $475,000 according to MLS. Combine this with the average Washington construction cost of $343,100 for a 2000 sq ft home (as cited by Houzeo), and the total rises to $818,100. Even after accounting for supplemental costs (inventory included below), this brings the total to a rounded-off $900,000 for safety. This is $300,000 less than the current median of a three-bedroom home on Bainbridge. The eventual price is influenced by quality and features. Yet, this scenario underscores the investment adage: location, location, location. I’m available to assist in fine-tuning the numbers for your unique project.

Beyond the cost of building, the land itself is a promising asset. With its distinct propensity to appreciate due to its scarcity and mounting demand, Northwestern undeveloped land holds potential for substantial returns. If you’re leaning towards the construction path, however, be mindful of the hurdles ahead.

Navigating Obstacles on the Path to Building

Zoning Regulations: These ordinances may influence or change your intended land usage. It’s crucial to research and liaise with local planning bodies to avoid unexpected hitches.

Permit Requirements: Building mandates several permits, encompassing environmental evaluations, construction approvals, and sometimes, specialized permissions for certain project features.

Surveys and Tests: Invest in professional evaluations. A property survey can outline boundaries, easements, and potential infringements, while environmental tests can identify soil impurities.

Easements: Ensure no surprising easements exist or conditions that might deprive your land of essential utilities or road access.

Financing: Unlike pre-built homes, raw land can demand a significant down payment, sometimes up to 50%. Due to the perceived higher risk and ambiguous ROI timeframe, specialized land loans are often necessary for financing.

Time Constraints: Building demands patience. Land needs time for preparation and utility hook-ups. Immediate occupation isn’t feasible, with homeowners usually dedicating 9 months to a year for construction. This doesn’t factor in the city’s permit approval duration, which might extend the timeline.

Finding the Perfect Location: Understand your land’s purpose and initiate your search for a suitable plot. Evaluate essential parameters like utility connections, permits, zoning, mobile network strength, preparation needs, and neighbor proximity.

In essence, investing in Northwestern undeveloped land is a gateway to molding your aspirations in one of Earth’s most stunning locales. While it’s essential to be aware of every facet, a calculated approach can turn building your home into an outstanding financial venture and a step towards an enriched future. I stand ready to help you navigate this path.

An Inventory of Supplemental Costs

It’s vital to consider additional expenses. These estimates can diverge significantly due to specific conditions and regional factors. Engaging with local specialists and obtaining tailored quotes is crucial when contemplating construction.

Land Clearing and Grading: This entails clearing the site and ensuring the land is sloped correctly. In Washington, costs fluctuate based on factors like land size, its current state, and local labor rates, ranging roughly from $5,000 to $25,000.

Access Road Construction: If your property requires a new or upgraded access road, expenses are influenced by the road’s length, the terrain, and the materials, usually ranging from $5,000 to $20,000.

Environmental Assessment: Ecologically sensitive zones like Washington necessitate environmental reviews to gauge potential impacts. A budget of $1,000 to $5,000 is a fair estimate.

Permit Costs: Necessary permits bring along costs encompassing application fees and administrative tasks. Depending on the project’s intricacy and regional rules, these can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

Utilities Installation: Ensuring water, gas, and sewage services may cost between $5,000 and $20,000, depending on the distance from existing connections and the type of service.

Septic Installation and Well Drilling: In areas without municipal utilities, you’ll need to consider septic systems (ranging from $5,000 to $15,000) and well drilling (typically between $15,000 and $40,000).

The overall lower bound for these utilities-related sections is $16,500, while the upper bound is $75,000.
The range is broad and typically hinges on what you prioritize.

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