5 Ways Paying Less Could Cost You More When Buying Land

5 Ways Paying Less Could Cost You More When Buying Land

WHAT?  Yes, you read that right. And no I did not bump my head recently. Pay more to spend less is a real thing.

If you are like the majority of people starting to look for land, you focus on price first to narrow down the available options. Once you narrow the options you then look more closely at the location, size and shape to see if any of them are of interest.   

And like the majority of people, one or all of the following are probably true. You want to pay as little as possible. You want feel like you got a good deal. If you pay less for the land you can put more of your wish list features into your future home build.

Beware. That lower price land could end up costing you more money and add more time and stress to your building process. There is always a reason for a lower price - How much could that reason cost you in the long run?   

1-You may be aware that many subdivisions have rules but ask if there are building guidelines to follow as well. Many developers incorporate building guide lines into a subdivision to help keep a certain amount of conformity. A similar theme has the ability to improve the esthetics of an area, increase desirability and therefore generates higher prices for homes in the subdivision.

The guidelines are not a bad thing and will not necessarily add an expense to your build or site prep but they can...

Imagine you already have blue prints that are designed for a detached garage and you find out the guidelines require an attached garage. Your builder estimated on the original design. Changing plan designs can be challenging and costly.

And what if the shape of the lot won’t accommodate the adjustment easily and your homes location on the lot has to change. Cha-ching, site prep is more expensive now too.

2- Fill material is commonly used to create more level, usable space on a property and depending where on the property the fill is located it can add extra expense to your future development.

Poorly compacted land and un-clean fill (includes material that will decompose) shifts and settles which can cause home foundations and septic fields to sink and fail over time.

Native soil is considered stable, it has undergone years of natural compaction, and much preferred when installing septic systems and building foundations.

If there is no choice other than to build where there is fill your contractor will suggest digging down to the native soil for the foundation work to give you a long term quality build.

Yikes... Is that a metre deeper than you planned or closer to 3 meters. It’s going to make a difference. More hours of digging, more concrete, more man hours, more interior finishing materials. 


3- Ditches, creeks, lakes and ponds can make a parcel of land more desirable but can cause some challenges too. They can add beauty, be a source of fun, supply you drinking water and potentially cause extra expense.   

The area along the edge of any water course is called “riparian” and that land is deemed protected, it must not be disturbed. Having a RAR assessment completed prior to starting any development is very important.

The report shows you how much of the surrounding area is protected, where and if you can or cannot disturb soil or remove trees.  You may have to modify what you had envisioned for your building location, access,design or landscaping.   

4- All areas and community requirements are not the same when it comes to building on sloped land. If you are looking at land that is heavily sloped confirm with the governing body of what their area regulations are.

My community for many years did not require an engineer report no matter the % of slope. That changed after 2018 and now if there is a 30% or more grade anywhere on the property a Geo-tech report must be completed prior to development. And yet one of the near-by communities only require a geo-tech report to be complete if your building site is on the area of 30% or more.

5- Services – When you are going to view vacant land note if the listing report says services are available.  If the listing says services are available look for the services connections to see where they are in relation to where you would like to have your building site.   

Large acreages and rural lands can be a long ways from the nearest power, need a well drilled or septic installed. And buying in a serviced subdivision does not guarantee all services are available or at the lot line. Sometimes they are across the road and there have even been cases where utility installers missed creating a service connection for a single lot in a subdivision.

We have an old subdivision in our area where 2 entire streets were never included on the original water system and no power lines were installed on the street. Those lots always draw plenty of buyer attention when they come on market because of their low price.

If you are on a strict budget and time line to build I highly recommend you increase your budget for the land.  Purchasing a more premium lot can save you thousands of dollars in unexpected expenses, weeks or months of time delays and unnecessary frustration and stress.

Bev Burk
Cell: (250) 833-6953
Office : (250) 675-2317