The property we found was from months of searching. I signed up with several real estate search sites for their ease of use and the information they provided additionally that others did not. Trulia, Zillow, Redfin and some local land only websites gave me valuable info on the local market pricing. We drove to those of interest on weekends and most did not pan out, but it was helpful to see the areas and get familiar with the logistics (in the country you can end up on roads not passable in wet weather). We did find a nice sized, 26 acres, with a large pond/small lake that is fed by a natural run off so any rains will keep the pond flowing and moving. The property has a gentle slope down to it so if it should flood it is below the area we plan to build on.
1. Research past and future use.
Important no matter where you build is research the city, town, neighborhood, and in this case, we found out this property was part of an abandoned development. We have electric and water, and aerobic septic systems are the norm for our county. Building in an area without essentials can be costly to bring in. Go to the county and they can see if there are any past of present issues still on the board in the area. Research for any future building and planned uses (schools, strip centers, highways, toll roads, etc.) that could impact your decision.
2. Check the neighborhood.
We did not hurry in our purchase. We have learned over the years that if it is meant to be, then it will be. So we just watched the property, drove the road in all weather, checked out the “neighborhood” ( quiet neighbors and everyone seems to keep their places neat and tidy). We did not put in an offer until almost a year later. We were not in a hurry to buy so we had the leisure of waiting. And by then the sellers were more readily agreeable to lower the price for us.
Seeing the property in all seasons allowed us to make sure we were not overlooking any glaring issues. Especially important: observe the property “in the middle of a rainstorm”. This will allow you to see the drainage and runoff patterns and observe any standing water issues. Also observe the quality of the road.
Go out to the property at night and observe for any bright annoying lights, especially in summer when ball fields are lit, and also on Friday nights during school to observe football stadium lights. Also, neighbors may have yard lights that stay on at night or there can be highway lights above tree lines. Observing these issues can help you place windows and orient the house so exterior lights are not intrusive to the house interior. It can also help you place gardens, porches, and structures to block night lights.
It is surprising how noise is not observed because we get so used to it. In the country, however, noise travels for miles. And as we have discovered, the change in wind direction can bring noise from the highway north of us a mile away. The road noise we don’t hear in the summer from that highway because winds blow from directions other than north, we do hear readily in the fall and winter when the winds change to the north and the deciduous tree line drops its leaves letting more noise through. Look at maps and see what highways surround the property and observe the noise in all seasons. Nearby housing developments under construction may bring more noise from dump trucks and travel to and from the development. Be aware of noise if you want quiet country surroundings at all times; you may have to acquiesce on this detail.