Choosing the Right Land For Building a Custom Home

Urban dwellers often imagine living on a larger property outside the city with cleaner air, more space and the opportunity to build a custom dream home. When looking for land to build a custom home, many people believe a piece of raw land will help them save money and stay on budget. Indeed, land costs drop in the countryside. In general, the farther from the city you get, the lower the price per acre- but developing your own land can cost you big time. This is why teardown properties can be great as well. Lamelli recommends making land choices based on the lifestyle you want or the use of the property, rather than land cost alone.

Raw Land vs. Developed Land

Teardown Land

Older, more established neighbourhoods often lack undeveloped property suitable for building your own home. Purchasing a property with an older home that needs to be demolished is a great way to acquire a buildable lot in an existing neighbourhood. As a bonus, you may be left with a buildable surface, utilities and driveway, if it is still in good condition. Teardown prices are not as high as you may think, averaging only $4-15/sq.ft. This option can also save you money on site work. However, you may need a local permit before proceeding with a demolition so be sure to do your homework in advance.

Undeveloped Land

Raw land tends to have a lower purchase price, but developing the land takes more time and money. Fortunately, Lamelli’s home building technologies overcome many of the obstacles to building in the countryside. Finding skilled craftsmen who are willing and available to travel to remote locations can be difficult, making prefab homes the perfect option. Our modular, prefab homes are easy to transport and assemble, minimizing onsite waste and the need for skilled labour. Lamelli's 'Growing Homes' let you start with the core of your home and add modules as your needs evolve. You can build a starter home and move in right away for as little as $25,000.

Lamelli has the expertise to make your custom build a success whether you are building on raw land or doing a teardown. Once you have chosen a piece of land, you can perform a site analysis to determine the cost of building one of our modular homes and other site costs.

Finding Land

To find land that fits your priorities it’s best to choose one or two general areas to research. Share your land requirements with Lamelli, as we may already know of lots that suit them. You may also consider working with a realtor or doing your own searches on websites like, Zillow or Other good sources include local classified online or in print. You also might enjoy driving through the area you would like to build in and look for signs advertising lots for sale. Finding land with existing homes that are good candidates for teardowns may require more research. 

Qualifying Your Site


Zoning Requirements

Check with city, county and state or provincial authorities before you commit to purchasing the land. Determine whether or not you can build the home you want. Be sure to ask about future zoning as well for major projects such as airports and shopping centers that may increase or decrease the value of your land or disrupt your lifestyle.

Elevation Issues

If the land is located near hills or cliffs, it is important to assess the stability of the land. If the land is unstable and moves over time it can lead to cracks in the foundation or even a potential landslide. Asking other homeowners in the area about their foundations is a good way to gain an understanding of issues that may exist in your area. Lamelli's home structures are stable, lightweight and not prone to cracking, making them ideal for building on hills, cliffs and slopes.

Identify Natural Hazards

Obtain a natural hazard disclosure. This will tell you if the land you are interested in is protected habitat or a fire hazard.

Access to Water and Utilities

While water is crucial, water rights don’t always come with the land. If there is not water infrastructure in place, ensure that you are allowed to dig a well. This involves finding out the depth of your water table and how easy it will be to dig, which can be an issue if the ground is too rocky. 

You will also want to know what utilities are available as it can be costly to bring electricity or telephone service if they are not already established in the area. Find out if you will need to install a septic system if necessary and how much it will cost.

Solar Access

If you plan on installing solar panels, you will need to evaluate shading on your property. Wide-open areas without trees are perfect for solar panels, which is an important factor for environmentally conscious buyers. 

Smells and Sounds

While the countryside is known for its fresh air, this isn’t always the case. If you are looking at land near a farm ensure that the smells of livestock and fertilizer will be tolerable.

Don’t commit to purchasing a site until you have thoroughly checked it out and performed a site analysis. Seek professional help to ensure that you are following the regulations for the jurisdiction. A civil engineer or land consultant can perform most of the research on your behalf.

Purchasing Land

Set Your Priorities

After researching and viewing many properties you will likely have a short list of options to choose from. Selecting the perfect lot is a lot easier when you pin down exactly what matters most. This could be cost, location, views, proximity to the city or available infrastructure.

Get an Appraisal

Once you have chosen a lot you should obtain your own appraisal before making an offer. This is also a necessary step if you plan to use financing to purchase the land as most lenders will require a lender appraisal. Remember that comparable sales can be challenging to find when purchasing land in remote areas.

Financing Your Purchase

Getting a loan for a land lot can be challenging because raw land can’t be leveraged by a bank. However, there are a few lenders who do specialize in this type of transaction, but don’t expect to be approved beyond half of the purchase price. Factors such as utility access and roads may influence your chances of approval for a particular lot.

Obtaining a construction loan to build your own home is a different story, as the structure can act as collateral. Some lenders will allow for subordination to a new construction loan. 


Get It Right

Finding a great place to build your home is one of the most important decisions you will make as it will lay the foundation for your home building and ownership journey. Lamelli is happy to offer a team of experts to help you choose the right land for building one our custom prefab homes. Get in touch with us today for a free consultation and more information on our innovative designs and home building technologies. 

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