Build Your Own House

Buying Land Tips-Buildable Lot-Soil Analysis

Summary: Buying land to build a new home is the most important step in home building. Be sure the building site you are buying is buildable.

Carl, your website has been extremely helpful in my quest to build my own house.

I have reached the point of buying the land.

I have put in a contingency in the real estate sales contract that I need to do a soil analysis.

The property has water and sewer.

What companies are there to do the soil analysis, and what do I need to do to make sure the ground is compact enough to build on?

Thanks, Rob

Hi Rob,

In Chapter2, on pages 13 -14 of my eBook, "Build or Remodel Your Own House," I say the following:

If the area in which you are looking for a building lot, or land to build your new home, has no housing development activity near it, I strongly recommend taking test borings of the soil before you purchase the lot to determine its load-bearing capability.

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These tests will also show whether there are any areas on the site that might require blasting. The test is not expensive, and the seller should be willing to pay for it.

Without a soil test, you can end up paying thousands of extra dollars for foundation and drainage work. Be sure that this test is included as a contingency in any contract to buy. It can also be included as a refund provision in the contract in the event that non-load-bearing soil is discovered after purchase.

Specialists in test boring for load bearing are called Consulting Engineers or Foundation Engineers.

Many county health departments make soil tests for septic systems. This is done for free or at a very low cost. These departments also provide information about water wells.

If you are using a real estate broker in the land purchase, let the brokers do the work.

Put the burden of getting these tests on your real estate brokers. Let them do the legwork and checking. Just make sure those tasks are in the contract you sign with them. Let them earn their commissions by handing you a nice, clean, finished deal, a lot ready for you to build your dream house on.

Also Rob, check on: Building Permits, Zoning, and Title Insurance for the lot.

Is it a buildable lot? This is the most important question to ask when deciding to buy a building site, and your local building inspection department is responsible for answering it in the form of a building permit.

buying land tips
Building Permit

They will only issue a building permit if it can be considered a buildable lot. Be sure to check with your local building inspection department before you purchase your building site.

You should also read my page on How to Buy Land and Build a House.

Good Luck, Carl Heldmann