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Expert Help

So you've decided to build your own home and are ready to go. What do you do next? The first thing is probably to understand that you are going to need a team of professionals to help you through the process.

In rare cases you can buy land without much help. You could for example see a 'For Sale By Owner' sign on a lot and buy it directly with cash. If the lot was reasonably flat, on sewer, and required minimal grading you could deal directly with the City or County officials and process the paperwork to build a home. The actual building could be done by yourself as the 'owner-builder' or you could contract the work to a professional builder.

In actual fact, this situation rarely happens. It is likely you'll use a realtor with land experience to help you find a lot. After all, that 'For Sale By Owner' lot may not be as good a deal as you think, and the realtor will have access to county-wide data to check comparable land sales.  You will probably also need a loan, and a mortgage broker, again with land experience, will be able to tell you about the various options available to you.

If the lot is not on sewer, it will need a septic system. Some lots are pre-approved for a certain size of septic system, say for a 4 bedroom house. Even if this is the case, the septic layout will have to be drawn up and approved, and this will require a certified engineer to do the work. If a significant amount of dirt has to moved to grade a pad for the house, an engineer will also have to prepare a grading plan that will have to be approved by the City or County.

So your team now includes a land agent, a mortgage broker, an engineer and probably a builder. You may also have an architect if your home is a custom design. Architects are not cheap, but if you do have an architect, he or she will probably handle the engineer and builder, reducing the hassle that you have to deal with.



This website has been written and developed by Rob Ransom, PhD. Rob has extensive experience working with buyers and sellers of vacant land in San Diego County, CA. Although Rob currently has a California real estate license he is retired from selling real estate.

If you have comments or suggestions regarding this web site, email Rob at the address below.


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