Thinking about building your own home? Here are some things to consider!

Thinking about building your own home? Here are some things to consider! 

If you are considering buying land to build a home on you need to know a few things prior to starting the process. Land development is a segment of real estate Alicia and I have a bunch of experience in as we actively develop residential properties throughout Northern California. 


During the due diligence period when buying land you plan to develop you should establish the following:


Property Specifics


  • Property Lines: Where are your recorded property lines? Can you identify this when you are at the property? Is there a property survey on file so you can better understand the exact layout of the property?
  • Zoning / Building Setbacks: What is the zoning for your specific property? Learning more about your property’s zoning will most likely tell you about the building setbacks that you will have to abide by when developing your property. But when in doubt we would encourage you to contact your designated county or city planning department. 
  • HOAs/CCNRs: If you purchase a property within an HOA you may be liable for monthly or annual HOA fees. Your new home’s design/plan may even need to be approved by your HOA if that rule is clearly stated in your neighborhood’s CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions, & Restrictions). Some HOA’s have the ability to ban certain breeds of dogs, chickens, and other animals. Needless to say, it is important to clearly understand your CC&Rs. 
  • Easements (if any): Are there any recorded easements associated with your property? For example, do you have to provide a right of way to a landlocked neighboring property? Or do you have to provide a right of way for a specific utility company? 


Utility Accessibility & Associated Costs


  • Water: Is the water source a public or private utility on a meter or is it going to be a well that you need to drill? What are the costs associated with getting water from the source to the house?
  • Electricity: What company provides the electricity? Where is the nearest transformer? Is power in the area overhead or underground? If overhead, will the power line be running overhead across any neighboring properties, and will those property owners give me consent to do so?
  • Sewer: Is the sewer source a public utility or will I need to install a septic system? If installing a septic system, do keep in mind that two types of systems exist (standard and engineered systems). Standard systems don’t require engineering. Engineered systems require an engineer to design the system and get approval from your local environmental health department. Oftentimes the installation of a septic system is not included in the overall building permit so plan for that additional expense. 
  • Gas: Where is the nearest gas line and what are the processes and expenses associated with getting a meter on the property. Do note that in more rural environments your home will likely require an auxiliary propane tank that feeds the home with its gas. 


Development Fees:

  • Building Permit Fees: It is important to establish your estimated building permit fees upfront to eliminate any surprises. Usually, this will entail knowing your intended square footage, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, and any additional structures you plan on building on your property. Without a proper plot plan/floor plan your local county or city may only be able to provide you with an estimate. 


  • School Fees: Some counties or cities will lump the local school fees into the building permit fees which will increase your overall building permit fees but only entail you to pay one fee. But we have seen where some areas will instruct you to pay your school fees in advance to paying your final building permit fee in order to obtain your official building permit. 


  • Encroachments: If your driveway is going to spill out on a public road you will likely be required to pave an encroachment and pay for an encroachment permit.


Please note that each property and area can be very different. A property could be located in a specific city but depending on where it is located you may be working with the local city versus the local county or vice versa. We hope you will use our above blog post as a great place to start! But you should be prepared to develop a very tailored approach to your due diligence process. If you have any additional questions or if you would like to chat about some of our current listings don’t hesitate to reach out!








Torben Yjord-Jackson – Realtor

EXP Realty of CA, Inc.

License #02050831


📲(415) 259-8088





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