Top 10 Points to Consider When Searching for Your Lot – Part 2

Custom Home Lot Selection

Last week’s blog, Custom Home Lot Selection – Part 1, discussed considering: (1) the part of town you want to live in; (2) how long you plan to stay in the home; (3) your budget; (4) the privacy level of the lot vs. the privacy you want; and (5) the lot orientation. This week, we’ll look at the final five points to consider consider before selecting a lot for your custom home.

6. What is the topography of the lot?

“Topo” is the contour of the lot, which is the “slope” of the land. Is the lot flat? Does it slope front to back, back to front, or from one side to the other? The lot elevation can impact several factors of your new, custom home design:

  • Style:
    • Single floor vs. multi-story
    • Walk out lower level
    • Considering a pool? Some enjoy having this on the 1st floor level; others prefer it at the lower level.
    • Children’s play area for sports and playground equipment
  • Cost:
    • If the lot is not ideal for creating the spaces you desire – you may need to factor in the additional cost of retaining walls and other structural supports.

7. What is the size of the lot? Will it accommodate the style of home you desire? Are there easements that will restrict what you want?

The size of the lot is important not just for considering the kind of yard you wish to have, but for the style of home you envision.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you want a ranch, 1 ½ story, or a 2 story home? All three require different size lots.
  • Do you plan to have a 2, 3, or 4 car garage – will it be a front, side, or rear entry? Again, this will be affected by the dimensions of your lot.

Understand the Easements

  • When you start to narrow down the lots you are considering, you need to secure the record plat for the subdivision and/or a recorded site plan for the specific lot you are considering. These documents will show you the easements that may be in the lot. Easements can restrict the available space for you to build your home. Don’t assume the lot you are looking at will be the same as the lot next door. To find your record plat, contact your local county courthouse.
  • Jefferson County – deed room at Metro Hall – 527 W. Jefferson St. –

8. Neighborhood regulations and association dues

Many neighborhoods today have written rules and regulations that dictate what you can and cannot do on your property. Your homebuilder can help look into this to ensure your desired home will be within these regulations.

Additionally, there are many neighborhoods with association dues to pay for the upkeep of the common areas. While this may be good for the neighborhood, you need to be sure the “common areas and facilities” are those in which you have an interest. For example, if you are retired and don’t have grandchildren nearby, you may not wish to pay for a large community pool and clubhouse you will seldom use. Another example – if you own a motor home or a trailer for a boat – you may or may not be able to keep it at your home. On the other hand, you may want these kinds of regulations to keep your neighbors from storing their boats and R.V.’s at their homes.

9. Who owns the lot?

Understanding who currently owns the lot and the involved sales process is important when considering a lot. If you are interested in a lot you found while out driving in Jefferson County or found on Google Maps and you want to contact the owner to see if they want to sell, you can go on-line to or visit the Jefferson County PVA office at the Fiscal Court Building, 531 Court Place, Suite 504 to learn more.

10. Builder restrictions

Some lots have a restriction placed on them by the builder who owns it or the developer of the subdivision. These restrictions can vary from being required to use a “Registered Builder” ( or a specific builder for that neighborhood. These restrictions can be good for clients looking to build a new home, or they can be a challenge.

  • If the subdivision requires you to use an experienced Registered Builder like Sterling, they are doing this to help ensure a qualified person builds your home. This reduces the likelihood of poor construction going into the subdivision and helps protect the client from casual or hobby builders.
  • If you are required to use a specific builder, you should do your homework on that builder and the quality of their work, as the client/builder relationship is very important. You will be working together for 6 months or longer on a project that will quite likely be one of the most important and expensive decisions your family will make. How to choose the right builder will be addressed in a future blog post.

Once you have investigated all the points discussed in these past two blog posts, you will be able to choose the lot that best meets your family’s needs. If this list seems a little daunting, that’s because it is a big decision and there are a lot of things to consider. Don’t be discouraged though, work with a qualified, Registered Builder and this part of the process will go smoothly and will be a lot of fun.

Please feel free to contact me if you are looking for a lot and have any questions about this process.