Building a custom home usually means one of two things: buying a block of land and engaging a local custom home builder or buying a house and land package from a custom home building company.
There are benefits to both approaches that depend on your budget, time frame and lifestyle needs. But in each of these situations it’s important to carefully consider your land when building a custom home.
Why do I need to understand land considerations when building a custom home?
A vacant block of land offers a huge amount of freedom when it comes to designing a beautiful custom home. But there are also important legal and environmental constraints you should consider to make sure you meet council requirements and reap the benefits of an energy-efficient home.
The most important considerations are:
- risks of fire or flood
- land slope, shape and orientation
- soil and environmental conditions
- surveying and boundaries with neighbouring properties
- your lifestyle needs
A quality custom home builder will take all of these things into account when working with you to design your home. And if you purchase a house and land package, the builder will probably have already conducted these assessments, which can speed up the process when designing the best home for the land.
Let’s look at some of these points in a little more detail.
Consider your location
The location of your land is obviously important. Buying a house and land package means buying into an emerging community, sometimes on the outskirts of town but often in a beautiful area with attractive recreational facilities and practical services. Many of the surrounding houses will be of similar style to your own.
If you’re buying a block of land independently with the intent to later engage a custom home builder, you’ll also be considering facilities and amenities nearby, such as transport, shops and schools. You may prefer to be closer to the centre of town. This decision always comes down to your individual lifestyle needs.
Be aware of any risks of fire or flood
Depending on the location of your block of land, your new home may be at risk of bushfire or flood. You can check if you’re in a bushfire prone area or read general information about flood risk to get a better understanding of land management, buildings and insurance premiums.
But your builder will also be across any construction requirements for the location you choose. And if materials are required to meet fire safe standards, a house and land package will include these costs in your package price.
Build for the local climate
There is great diversity in the climate zones throughout Victoria and New South Wales and each one has its own climatic characteristics that impact design and construction.
For example, Lekeal builds mostly in zone 4 climate areas that experience hot, dry summers and cool winters. This means some form of heating and cooling is required year-round. Our homes are always built to retain coolness or warmth through thermal mass and to take advantage of passive cooling through design aspects such as window placement and cross ventilation. And all Lekeal homes are built to a minimum 6 star energy rating.
Gaining an understanding of your own climate zone and the ways thermal energy can work in your environment goes a long way to achieving a comfortable home that’s also energy efficient.
Consider land slope, shape and orientation
A good custom home builder will always plan the home design around the slope, shape and orientation of your block of land. This is important so as to meet passive energy goals as well as your lifestyle needs.
The position of the sun will determine where windows and doors are placed because low sun angles through east and west-facing windows increase heat gain, while north-facing windows transmit less heat in summer. Natural ventilation and air movement for passive cooling should also be considered here.
Trees and other vegetation should be planted with a strong focus on providing shade and privacy while also looking good aesthetically. Your builder will know the best placement for trees so they block the harsh summer sun but not the pleasant winter sun. At Lekeal, we always organise your builder to visit your site before you purchase.
Finally, make sure your garage and driveway accommodate your vehicle and storage requirements as well as council specifications around boundaries.
Test soil conditions
If you’re buying a house and land package, your custom home builder will have already done soil tests and should be able to provide you with the appropriate information and documentation.
This will include data around the reactivity of your soil (how much it will move according to moisture) and the soil bearing capacity (how much weight it can hold before it moves). If you’re buying your land independently, your custom home builder will organise the soil tests to be done for you.
Consider boundaries with neighbouring properties
Every block of land has boundaries that run between properties and these boundaries need to be assessed and documented. This is important to make the most of your block of land but also to avoid potential problems in the future.
A licensed surveyor is the only person legally entitled to undertake a survey to mark the boundaries of your property. Your custom home builder will undertake all the surveying for you.
Customise for your lifestyle needs
The greatest benefit of a custom home is that you can build it however you want and the same goes for the way you use your land. Not into gardening? You might like a bigger house with a low-maintenance yard. Or if you’re by the water, perhaps a large double-height shed to store your boat? If you love to entertain you might prefer a large outdoor entertaining area and pool – the choice is yours.
Or if you have a block of land ready to go around Albury or Yarrawonga, we’d love to chat to you about what your ideal home might look like. You might want to check out some of our designs – but remember we can customise them however you like!