When you are looking for a lot for custom homes in Austin, there are many things to consider. What do you see when you look at an unimproved lot? You may see some nice trees and a great Hill Country view. For me it’s more complicated than that! Many things go through my head when I first walk a lot…

What are the building setbacks?
What are the deed restrictions?
What utilities are available to this property?
Will we need a well and/or septic system?
If there is a sewer system, how deep are the taps buried?
Will we need a grinder pump?

There are many technical questions to be answered, but aside from that, here’s my thought process when I first step foot on a lot to assess it for my client:

What is the sun orientation? I always identify true west and then northwest so I can understand where the afternoon sun will be located and at what angle it will hit the lot in the hottest part of our summer.

The next consideration is topography. Many of the lots we build on have sloping terrain that needs to be incorporated into the design of the home. If the lot slopes from front to back, there may be an opportunity to design an over-under home, where you enter at the main level and go down to the secondary level of the home. If it slopes from side to side, the client may need to decide if they want steps inside the house that transition the slope, or perhaps they would like to make a cut on the property with a retaining wall that would create a level building site.

I also take notice of any trees and their location relative to the probable placement of the home. We’ve designed many homes around magnificent trees to create a beautiful, unique retreat for our clients.

I look closely at the surface soil conditions to see if I can detect any fill on the lot or any evidence of subsurface water that will have to be dealt with on the project. I also want to consider how surface water would be managed on the property.

These are just some of the thoughts going through my head as I assess the feasibility of a lot based on my clients’ needs and budget. I encourage anyone who is considering a lot purchase to get the advice of an expert who understands lot characteristics and home construction so that the “true” cost of the lot can be identified up front. I would be happy to provide you with valuable insight about the lot you are considering and how it could effect the custom home building process before you make your purchase decision.