Where Can You Build A Custom Home?

In the home building process one of the most daunting tasks is choosing where to build, and understanding what all a location will require before building is allowed. Factors such as neighborhood, commuting distances, and views are often important, however there could be things such as -high zoning costs, HOA fees, regulations, and land preparation that make it more of a challenge to choose a city or neighborhood to call home.

Buying Land

The building and real estate industry has not been immune to the escalating costs seen in the rest of the economy. There are some states and cities that are priced much higher than their distant neighbors.

There are many parts in rural America such as Cortez, Colorado where you can purchase a .82 acre lot for $22,500. By contrast, when purchasing land in more affluent resort areas the prices can be daunting. Recently, a .79 acre lot in Telluride, Colorado was listed at an astonishing $3,500,000.00. 

Although these two places are only an hour and a half drive from each other, there are a few catalysts that affect the price tags in different ways. Telluride, Colorado is known as a small, albeit busy, ski resort/tourist town; that sees a large influx of skiers and snowboarders during the winter months. Even during the off season, this resort town is treated as a home away from home for many non-residents. Cortez, CO on the other hand is a small farming community that doesn’t offer as much of the grandeur as Telluride may for some searching for a place to build.

HOA Regulations

A homeowners association is an organization made up of members of a community. An HOA will have a board of directors who are voted into place and volunteer for each position. Homeowners associations help to keep the property value higher in an area by maintaining the communal areas and keeping up the appearances of the neighborhood.

Along with regulations and fees, you may need to get many of your design ideas approved by the HOA in your community. Some examples of what they may want input on is the size of your home, the exterior finishes, and the landscaping.

HOA’s and their permits are mandatory in order to build your custom home in their community. Before you purchase a plot of land, having a rough idea of the square footage, shape, and exterior finishes of your home can help you adhere to the requests of the HOA. This can help you avoid any possible fees as well as avoiding delays and costly design changes.

Not only are there initial costs and extra fees associated with permitting and building in an HOA community, you also want to consider the monthly HOA fees and what those fees include. These are ongoing costs that come with enjoying the amenities of living within an HOA community. Think of it as a monthly membership to community cleanup, and possible luxuries such as a pool, tennis courts, etc.

Land Characteristics

The attributes of the land that you choose for your home, can change the layout and design of your living areas. If you are looking to move to an urban neighborhood in a populated area, you are more likely to find “finished” lots.

A finished lot is one that typically has been excavated, and has sewage and electric lines already prepped, or stubbed into the lot. This eliminates steps and allows for your builder to start on your foundation sooner. Rural areas will typically be unfinished and will need all of the preparation that most finished lots include. This can include bringing in utilities, drilling a well, installing a septic system, etc. 

Rural lots may be harder to access and may also need road work done in order to bring construction crews and materials through to your property. While a rural lot may be right up your alley, it may require more time, effort and money in the pre-building process, and is something to keep in mind while searching for your land.

Building Permits and Regulations

The health and safety of your build will come first and foremost. Permits and laws on residential and commercial construction will vary depending on numerous factors such as city ordinances, HOA regulations, etc. Having a good idea of the potential range of costs involved will help you stay within your budget.

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Permits will vary from city to city, and your custom home will not be exempt from this process before you can legally start to build. Some of the required permits could be for electrical, plumbing, and development work, if you choose an undeveloped lot.  Remember that permits will be required before you can break ground, and your build process can’t move forward before you have secured the proper permits and approvals by the city, HOA or any other governing body.

Next Steps

Choosing an area to build in is an exciting part of designing your own home. Once you have identified the area of the country in which you want to build, you can move on to the exciting part of finding the perfect lot. If you’ve come here with the dream of building your own custom designed home, it’s never too early to search for a piece of property and learn what regulations or permits may be tied to it.


Whether you have purchased land, or you haven’t even decided on a zip code yet, having a plan is the best way to be more prepared for the excitement of building your home.  One thing that can help in this step and keep your stress levels down is finding the right team to guide you in your search for the perfect lot.

Enlisting the help of professionals early in the process aids in saving both time and money. A team of professionals can assist in providing clarity and direction, should there be questions about the bigger decisions.  They have the knowledge to  walk you through all the ins and outs as well as help with the process of going through and understanding all of the HOA guidelines. Their knowledge plus your dreams will result in a custom home that you have dreamed of.

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