By LISA KLEIN
Building one’s ideal house from scratch is a dream for many luxury homeowners.
Add in beautiful, sprawling land in a rural area, and there is a recipe for the perfect property.
“Whether you’re thinking about buying a couple of acres or hundreds of acres, there’s something very appealing about living in a peaceful countryside setting,” said Sister Hood, an agent in the Atlanta, Georgia, area with Harry Norman, Realtors.
Jumping the hurdles
The appeal of a custom estate may be obvious – everything is designed to the specifications of the property owner, who may also have acres of trees, lake access and peace and quiet.
“Anytime you please you can hike, bike, birdwatch, fish, hunt, go horseback riding and much more,” Ms. Hood said of a rural Georgia setting.
According to Ms. Hood, more rural buyers are looking for homesites rather than permanently empty land to use for hunting or camping.
When considering an empty plot of land, however, it is important that buyers thoroughly research their options and enlist the help of experienced professionals for every step of the way.
First, it is important to check the zoning of a property and determine whether it can be easily petitioned for a change, if needed. Not all land is automatically approved for residential use.
A survey is also a must, as unused land may have somewhat unknown property lines or encroachments, intended or unintended. Others may even be using parts of the land legally.
“It is not uncommon to come across easements on rural properties,” Ms. Hood said. “These can be right-of-ways for neighboring properties or even gas and electric company easements that allow them to run lines across the property as well as access the property for maintenance.”
Thorough environmental testing should not be skipped, either.
“Depending on a property’s prior uses, it could be beneficial to look into environmental contaminations,” Ms. Hood said.
Potential buyers will also need to know how well the soil drains and any topography issues that could affect building.
Homebuilders may even have to pay for running utilities to their new house. Road access could also be a factor.
Last, but not least, seekers of a blank slate should investigate the surroundings of their possible purchase.
“Always be sure to look at the uses of neighboring properties,” Ms. Hood said. “Rural areas can include dumps, garbage transfer stations, commercial gravel pits and many other rural commercial and industrial businesses that can impact surrounding properties.”
Buyers should also check the value of homes in the area, as the costs of building from the ground up may exceed the home’s new worth.
All that hassle can be worth it once the right property is found.
“You have the ability to really build however you like within the limitations of the local building codes,” Ms. Hood said. “You can create your dream house the way you prefer.”
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