One of the first choices homeowners face when building from the ground up is choosing the location of their new house. How exactly do you go about picking a lot on which to build?

Let’s examine the process of lot selection, whether you’re building a custom home or a tract home.

Tract homes.  When you decide to build a home in a subdivision, the street layout, along with the corresponding lot sizes and shapes, will have already been decided by the developer. Based on those shapes and sizes, homeowners will choose lots that can accommodate the size and configuration of their floorplans. For instance, if a homeowner wants a side entry garage, a cul-de-sac lot with a pie shape likely would not work.

The developer may have further constraints on lot choice to avoid having identical homes being built next to each other.

Also remember that not all lots will be priced the same. Larger lots, cul-de-sac lots and lots that back up to a green belt of undeveloped land are typically very popular so builders will attach a “lot premium,” meaning buyers will pay more for those lots.

Don’t automatically assume a premium lot is right for you. Cul-de-sac living, for instance, isn’t for everyone. And corner lots, while roomier and having only one bordering neighbor, are typically at the intersection of two streets, meaning more traffic. Do your homework on a lot with a green belt of undeveloped land behind it. Find out how that land is zoned and if any plans have been proposed. Your peace and quiet may disappear (and your property value diminished) if a highway or shopping center is built right behind your house. Check with local zoning authorities to verify sales information.

Custom homes. When searching for a lot on which to build a custom home, the choices open up a bit. So-called “orphaned” lots in established neighborhoods are one option. First, determine if the lot will work for the type of home you wish to build. Oftentimes, these leftover lots have issues, such as grading problems. Also consider whether your house would “conform” or fit well with the existing homes in the area. Would the style of the home be approved by the homeowners association? Would you be “over building” in a neighborhood of more modest-priced homes?

If you’re considering a rural area, be sure to check prices on such things as wells and septic systems because city services aren’t likely available. You may also have to investigate the cost of running gas and electricity to the land.