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Home Building on Developed vs. Undeveloped Land

News | 6th Jun 2012

What’s the difference between developed and undeveloped land?

When trying to decide between building a home on developed land versus undeveloped land, there are a certain number of things you need to consider. Undeveloped land has not been prepared for building a home, where developed land has been, so there can often be more expenses involved in building on undeveloped land.

What about access?

The very first step in developing land is making sure that the land is accessible. There needs to be roads that connect to the land and the public right-of-way. In general, new lots are located next to the newly built road, but in the case of private developments, the roads may be maintained by the homeowners. Generally, however, in situations like that, the homeowners deed the roads to the city so that they will be maintained by the municipal service department that handles streets or roads.

Bureaucracy, lot of paperwork

In general, lots in subdivisions mean bureaucracy. Besides the local city government, you may have to deal with groups like the homeowner’s association, who will all have input as to what kind of home that you build. This can be details like the size of the building, to the materials used, and the exterior look and feel of the building.

In general, a rural building department will not hold builders to as high a standard as a municipal building department. While it’s better to be held to a higher standard, it can also cost a little bit more, as you are paying for that quality out of your own pocket.

Turn Up The Lights

Another key difference between developed and undeveloped land will be access to utilities. With a developed lot, utilities including electricity, water and gas are already at the edge of the property, ready to be connected to the home you build.

The developed land will also have had the soil and land graded and tested for drainage. Information about the property’s suitability for construction will be readily available.

On undeveloped land, you won’t necessarily have water or sewer taps available, or there might be no utilities at all. In this case, you will need to provide your own water and septic well, install a propane storage tank, and even bring in electricity yourself. This can be a costly and difficult business.

It’s also going to cost you in order to test the soil yourself in order to know if your site has bad soil or bedrock, which can make construction more costly and difficult.

What is it worth to you?

Ultimately, the decision about which type of home is more value is up to you. A home built in a subdivision can have a price advantage over a single home, but you won’t necessarily have as much creative control over the look and feel of your home. What you will get are closer neighbors and a home value that will be more predictable over time since the value will be judged based on other homes in the subdivision.

With a stand-alone home built on undeveloped land, you’ll have more control over the building of your home, and it will require more money and effort from yourself, your architect and builder, but your home will be a custom building that truly represents your tastes.

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