A favorite view or great location is often the original inspiration for those who decide to build their own home. But a great view won’t save you if it happens to be from a plot of land with major problems. Following these guidelines can help you make sure you’re choosing the best lot for your dream home:

A Buildable Lot: First and foremost, the location needs to buildable. The term “buildable lot” is used to describe a plot of land that can be built upon without major investments in altering or accommodating the topography of the land. The problem for many homebuilders is that what may appear to be a buildable lot turns out to be anything but when assessed by an experienced home builder. That’s why it’s usually a good idea to involve your homebuilder early on in the building process–even at the stage of selecting the land you want to build on.

Your builder should be able to explain how the soil conditions and landscape of a piece of land will impact building costs. Factors that influence this assessment are the slope in the site, how many trees may need to be removed and the quality of the soil on the pad site, i.e. the stabilized foundation area that the concrete foundation of the home will rest on.

The most remote and wild areas are often the ones that are the most difficult to build on either due to the geographical features of the land or because they are far from local infrastructure such as city water systems and power lines. So keep in mind that while that remote mountain peak may seem like an ideal setting for your “castle” you may need to be a king or queen to actually afford to build there.

Standard Lot Restrictions: Even if you are building on a standard lot in an existing community and don’t have to worry about access to power or water, it is still worth involving the builder in land selection because even the most standard lot may have factors to consider such as property line restrictions or zoning laws, or the need for excavation or specific requirements when building the foundation. Your builder can also give you a sense of what kind of home design will capitalize on the unique characteristics of your lot.

Local Resources: A final factor to consider when choosing a building lot is its proximity to important local resources beyond basic infrastructure. Shopping, schools, and medical facilities are all key factors to consider. Here is where you will want to consider how your life may evolve over the time you plan to live in your home. Obviously those planning to start families will think about their future children and will pay the most attention to local schools. But if you want to stay in your home well into old age you may want to choose a pedestrian friendly neighborhood that encourages healthy lifestyles in retirement.

If you do your homework and plan carefully, you’ll avoid costly mistakes and be well on your way to picking a great piece of land and building the home of your dreams.