Interested in developing land? Perhaps you already own a plot and are looking to build on it. Or maybe you've saved up some money and you are looking to buy a plot for your dream house. Regardless of why you want to develop land, you must know what to expect during the land development process.
If you need help developing your land in Western New York, choose Natale Builders. We leverage our 54 years of land development experience to set the standard for luxury custom-built and pre-selected home plans. But, before you reach out to start your land development journey, you should take time to evaluate the process to ensure no hiccups occur.
What is Land Development?
Before you learn the steps involved in land development, it is important that you know what land development means.
Land development is the process of acquiring land to construct residential housing, which involves making, installing, or constructing non-residential housing improvements before building. These improvements include sewer lines and sewage disposal installments, waterlines and water supply installations, gas, electric, and steam lines and installations, curbs, gutters, sidewalks, roads, and streets.
What are the Steps to Developing Land?
There are six crucial steps to developing land to prepare it for construction:
- Professional Survey of the Land
- Evaluate Access to Utilities: Sewer, Power, and Water
- Check Local Zoning and Subdivision Laws
- Contact a Builder and Set Clear Expectations for the Land
- Hire Experts and Create a Plan for Clearing Land
- Time to Build your New Home!
1. Professional Survey of the Land
If you don't already own a plot of land, you should take time to evaluate your purchase options. If the land is not ideal for the home you intend to build, it will soon cause problems and may require additional costs. To evaluate different plots of land, you should hire a licensed land surveyor or site evaluator.
A surveyor will help you to understand:
- The details and history of the land,
- The boundaries and property lines of the land,
- The features (trees, sidewalks, and other aspects within the property lines) that are included in the land,
- The features that are encroaching on the land (driveways, fences, etc.),
- The potential of the land to meet its intended use based on the land's typography,
- The zoning laws and building restrictions that may inform possibilities or limitations to your build.
Even if the land has recently been evaluated (land surveys and soil tests), you should still hire a land surveyor because the tests may be outdated, and conditions may have changed.
2. Evaluate Access to Utilities: Sewer, Power, and Water
It's essential to ensure that the land offers access to power, water, and sewers before your purchase through diligent research. This research may involve speaking to the seller or real estate agent to see whether public water is available.
If the land offers access to public water, get in touch with the local water provider to learn how to connect the water line and the processes involved. The process may include acquiring the permits and understanding the regulations for connecting the water line.
If the land does not provide access to public water, check whether a community well is nearby. Then, get in touch with the entity responsible for the well to learn about the processes involved with connecting to it.
If the land does not offer public or well water access, you may need to pay high costs to build your own well.
Determine whether a sewer system is already accessible or if you'll need to build a septic system.
If the land offers access to public water, the sewer system is likely available—but you should still pay your due diligence. If a sewer system is already accessible, use a plumber or contact the governing body to learn about the processes involved in connecting to the sewer system.
If the land uses well water rather than public water, you may need to build a septic system, which usually involves permits and may limit your options regarding where you position your home on your land.
Power access is usually available in populated areas. But you should check with the local power company to learn about its policies and the processes required for connecting to the power line.
Pro tip: Selecting land that comes with installed utilities can help you avoid access concerns, saving you time and preventing unexpected costs.
3. Check Local Zoning and Subdivision Laws
Before your land purchase, contact your local government to learn about zoning laws and whether the land is in a specific subdivision.
Once you have purchased your plot, it's time to apply for building and zoning permits. It may take some time to acquire these permits, and you might also need permits for utilities. That's why you should be prepared for the process before your purchase, so you can start applying for the permits immediately following your purchase.
4. Contact a Builder and Set Clear Expectations for the Land
After you've started the application process for building and utility permits, it's time to find a home builder. Your homebuilder will help you figure out structural options for the land, check whether any land clearing must be done, and consider financing options for your build.
If you choose Natale Builders, you'll meet with our Director of Sales to address build parameters, site characteristics, and structure placement. We'll also discuss your 'must-haves' with your budget to find the perfect floor plan or design a custom plan. If you want to finance your home, we'll help you learn about the different financing options available and introduce you to reputable professionals.
5. Hire Experts and Create a Plan for Clearing Land
You will now evaluate options for clearing the land by consulting with your builder and leveraging the research you've conducted. With zoning and utility access in mind, create a plan for hiring professionals to clear the land. This plan will involve steps for excavating brush, trees, and existing structures, getting in touch with the utility companies to access utility lines, and hiring a land-clearing contractor.
6. Time to Build your New Home!
Once you've cleared your land, acquired your permits, and planned for utility access, it's time to start building your new home. First, you'll work with your builder to finalize your home's layout. Once it's been finalized, your builder will take you through the steps involved, address any remaining questions or concerns, and begin your construction process.
If you're developing land in Western New York, you should choose the highly experienced Natale Builders team. A family business established in 1969, we put the needs of our customers (and their homes) above all else throughout the entire process and even after it's done. We'll work with you at every step of the process to create the home of your dreams.