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Advice on Buying Land

Posted on Mar 6, 2012
timber frame home under construction

Purchasing land for your future timber home is not as simple as choosing a beautiful location and signing a check; several factors should be considered before you sign that dotted line. James Banner, the President of Riverbend Timber Framing, takes the time to answer a few questions and offers some advice and insight into the process of buying land.

Q: Please list five attributes that you look for when buying piece of land, and tell us why these are important to future timber home owners.

James Banner:

1)       Aesthetics –Timber frame homes have an emotional appeal and the building lot must complement, and even enhance, that emotional impact. So, it’s a good idea for an owner’s architect to get involved on the front end of the project.

2)       Proximity – Proximity of the building lot to the owner’s interests and activities is critical. We’ve had clients happy with their home, but not with the location. If your lot is inconveniently located, far from the nearest town or from day-to-day services like grocery stores and restaurants, your location is worth re-considering. On the other hand, the remoteness of the location may be the primary attraction. Another tip for buying land is that buyers should consider proximity to neighbors and other buildings, or future buildings, in the area.

“Too often, owners are surprised by additional costs…such as the cost of excavation, retaining walls, roads and utilities.” – James Banner

3)       Buildability – Before purchasing, have the building lot evaluated by a building professional for buildability. Too often, owners are surprised by additional costs they were not aware of before purchasing – such as the cost of excavation, retaining walls, roads and utilities.

ohio property
Owners are sometimes surprised by additional costs that they were not aware of prior to purchasing their property

4)       Re-sale –Re-sale is certainly a consideration but timber home buyers tend to have a broader vision in mind. This is their dream home or perhaps a family retreat. It is my impression that most timber home buyers intend to own their home indefinitely or this is the home they plan for their retirement. This being said, home buyers should still keep an eye on the re-sale value of the home and lot.

5)       Amenities and Utilities – If the building lot is in a developed subdivision, more than likely it will come with more amenities and utilities such as water, power, sewer, cable, etc. Undeveloped lots come with considerably more expense when adding amenities and utilities.

Q: How important is the slope of the land?


It is possible to build on lots with very radical slopes. But, it’s expensive. My advice is that it’s worth the money to first have a survey of the lot, and then discuss the building ramifications with a building professional before buying land with a slope.

Q: What are your top five warning signs that a piece of land should be avoided?


1)       Soggy soil or underground water can cause a tremendous amount of grief. If there is any question, have soils engineer look at the site.

2)       Be very cautious of unfulfilled promises by the developer. If the developer has not yet completed installation of road, utilities, etc., then you might want to consider how you will be covered in the event the developer defaults.

canadian rockies
Be aware of development activities around the lot before you purchase it

3)       Make sure the title is clear and you understand all easements and access requirements. It’s a good idea to talk with the local building jurisdiction and see about the requirements for building permit on that specific lot.

4)       Being aware of development activities around the lot are important. It would be heartbreaking to learn about a new sewer treatment facility going in next door after you have already purchased the lot.

5)       Find out why the seller is selling. Make sure you get full disclosure.

A Final Note

By following these tips as well as seeking advice from architects and local authorities, you can ensure that the land you buy is not only a good fit for your dream timber frame home, but that it will continue to serve your needs and interests later on.

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Need More Information?

Whether you’re looking for more information or would simply like to learn more about us and our services, don’t hesitate to contact us. Please follow the link below to access our online form or call us at 888.486.2363 in the US or 888.999.4744 in Canada. We look forward to hearing from you.

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