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Land Buying Tips: Finding the Perfect Spot for Your Log Home

Majestic Ridgelines Inspire Great Log Homes

In an interview with Log Home Living, Jim Young, President of PrecisionCraft Log Homes gives his advice to future log home owners on buying land. This interview, packed full of good land buying tips, is featured in Log Home Living's 2010 Annual Buyer's Guide. Below is the original interview in its raw format.

Log Home Living: Really briefly, can you give me your list of 5 attributes that you look for in a good piece of land for building a log home, and why these are important.

Jim Young: Aesthetics, Proximity, Buildability, Utilities and Amenities and Resale.

  • Aesthetics – Most log home buyers build a log home because of the look, feel and beauty of the log home. Log homes have an emotional appeal and the building lot must complement and enhance the emotional impact. The design of the home and the building location are married such that it meets the Owners aesthetic vision. It’s a good reason for the Owner to get the architect involved on the front end of the building project – preferably during the lot selection.
  • Proximity – Proximity of the building lot to the Owners interests and/or activities is critical. This might be a ski-in, ski-out location or golf course lot or isolated in the forest. I’ve had clients happy with their home but it location is inconveniently located far from the nearest town and day-to-day services like grocery stores and restaurants. On the other hand, my family has a cabin in Idaho’s wilderness area and the remoteness of the location is the primary attraction. Buyers should also consider proximity to neighbors and other buildings or future buildings in the area. A building lot may have a gorgeous view but may also be located where the view will eventually be obstructed at some point by future building.
  • Buildability – The building lot should be evaluated by a building professional for buildability before purchasing the lot. I cannot emphasize the importance of this point. Too often, Owners are surprised by additional costs they were not aware of before purchasing – such as the cost of retaining walls, roads or driveways, utilities, special permits, etc. We’ve had situations where the Owner’s building lot was located on an ancient Indian burial site and unable to build. Another case was a site designated as a protected wetland. Probably the biggest factor adding unexpected costs of construction is the slope of the lot.
  • Re-sale - Every Realtor will tell you its location, location, location. Of course, this is true if you are considering re-sale. Re-sale is certainly a consideration but log home buyers tend to have a broader vision in mind. This is their dream home or perhaps a family retreat. It is my impression that most log home buyers intend to own their home indefinitely or this is the home they plan for their retirement. This being said, log home buyers should still keep an eye on the re-sale value of the home and lot.
  • Amenities and Utilities – If the building lot is in a developed subdivision, more than likely it will come with more amenities and utilities at the building location such as water, power, sewer, cable, etc. Developed subdivision often times offers clubhouse amenities, swimming pools and other features. This is extremely important and can add considerable value to the lot. On the other hand, undeveloped lots come with considerably more expense when adding amenities and utilities.

Log Home Living: What should you look for in terms of the overall location? i.e., what are some signs that it’s a good piece of property for you in terms of proximity to neighbors, number of trees, how close it is to critical goods and services, how close it is to water, etc.?

Jim Young: In addition to the considerations mentioned above, Buyers should understand the zoning at and around the potential building site. It is a good idea to consult with a professional builder to inspect access to utilities such as water, power, sewer, etc. Buyers should also consult with the local building departments, title companies and neighbors to understand any factors not readily apparent.

Log Home Living: How important is the slope of the land in this discussion? Is there a certain degree of slope that is too steep to build on? What should you be looking for here?

Jim Young: It is possible to build on lots with very radical slopes. I’ve seen projects that I swear are on shear cliffs. But, it’s expensive. Again, buyers should consult with a professional before purchasing especially if the lot is sloped. It’s hard to judge the actual slope of a building lot without a topographical survey. A lot that appears relatively flat by the naked eye can be deceiving. It is worth the money to have a survey of the lot and to discuss the building ramifications with a building professional before purchasing the lot.

Read the Full Interview at PrecisionCraft's Log Homes Blog!

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