For residential real estate and particularly custom homes, the lot on which a home is built is often as important as the building itself. In Colorado, with its “purple mountain majesties” and pristine natural beauty affording breath-taking views, the location and elevation of a home must be given a great deal of thought by homeowners and their builders.
Located in Colorado Springs, Solid Rock Custom Homes has a well-earned reputation for helping clients find the perfect lot for their custom home. This effort is led by real estate broker Michelle Grove-Reiland and home design specialist Kim Cieplik.
The 5 Considerations for Choosing a Perfect Lot
“In general, a custom home is larger, and this requires a larger lot,” Grove-Reiland said. “Plus, the lot must be conducive to the design of the home. For example, if the homeowner wants to be able to walk out to a lower level, this would require a slope that would accommodate this.
“An additional consideration for choosing a lot is the type of soil that is underneath its foundation. If the property has a high water level and the homeowner wants a walk-out lower level, this may not be possible. It may require a crawl-space because of the high water level.
“Another factor to consider when choosing a lot for a custom home involves the orientation of the home on the lot. Does the position of the home on the lot afford the homeowner the view corridors that he or she is looking for?
“Finally, a critical consideration involves any architectural committee design guidelines or covenants that restrict where one might build on a lot. There may also be city ordinances that prevent a homeowner from building the type of structure they want. These are critical questions to answer before buying a lot for a custom home.
Soil Composition and Brick Construction
The soil composition of Colorado is ideal for the construction of a brick home despite its mass.
“Obviously, the foundation must take into account the weight of the brick,” Kim Cieplik said. “Brick homes are sturdier, and therefore heavier, than those made of wood or synthetic materials, but we simply engineer the foundation in a manner that will support a brick home.
“Coloradans love being outside and enjoying the natural beauty of the state, and brick is very popular in outdoor entertainment areas, such as outdoor kitchens, expansive patios and pools. When our clients want these additions to their homes, we make sure the lot size is big enough to enhance these features.”
Michael Earley of Acme Brick offers a different perspective on the continuity between a brick home and the lot on which it is built.
“The land on which these custom homes are built is the same raw material that goes into Acme Brick,” he said. “We use native Colorado clay and soil, mined and then gas-fired at our plant in Castle Rock to make brick that will last for hundreds of years. As such, a home constructed of our brick is an extension of the land on which it sits.”
Before Buying a Lot
While it may not be as much fun as choosing the style of the interior brick of a new kitchen, due diligence in the evaluation of a lot is crucial.
“Before purchasing a lot, the prospective homeowner must do a “soils report”, Grove-Reiland said. “Most sellers will allow for a soil contingency in the contract.
“In Colorado, we have many hill sites, and these are considered ‘geo-hazard’ areas. When these areas get wet, there can be a slumping of the ground and this affects building construction.
“Historically, our state is very dry. However, over the past decade we’ve gotten a great deal more moisture, and this has caused this slumping. While this is a natural occurrence, it is important for a realtor to advise potential buyers of these geo-hazard areas. Many cities, including Colorado Springs, are mandating such tests as ‘slope analysis’ and this can be costly for the buyer – in the range of $10,000 to $15,000.
The Cost and Availability of Land for Homes Vary in the State
“Our market of Colorado Springs is extremely different from the Denver metro area,” Grove-Reiland said. “We still have areas where there is land available on which to build. However, even that land is beginning to get scarce.
“Typically, custom home owners are looking for at least one-half acre or larger for their lot. The trend among custom home buyers is for larger (greater than one acre) lots. I believe this is the result of people wanting to change their lifestyle to one with more privacy and less noise.
“An average half-acre lot would range in price from $1.75 to $2.25 per square foot, and the half acre is 21,780 square feet. This could vary based on location, HOA and other fees. This results in lots costing between $38,115 and $49,000. A good rule-of-thumb is that the cost of the lot should not exceed 20 percent of the total budget. This is dictated by mortgage companies or other lenders. If, however, a homeowner is paying full cash, there is no restriction on the price of the lot.”
A lot’s Size Versus Square Footage of a Home?
“There is no real standard for size of the lot size based on square footage of the home,” Cieplik said. “If a client wants us to build a 17,000 square foot home, we take into consideration the covenants and other requirements, such as a homeowner’s association, and recommend the appropriate lot size. As we have noted earlier, our lot sizes typically run from one-half acre to five acres, and we have recently built a beautiful home on 40 acres!”
“Over time, the availability of land – which is constantly being reduced – will dictate the size of the homes that can be built. However, custom home buyers in Colorado want large lots for their back and front yards and for entertaining. They love nature and they want to have that view of the mountains or the trees.”
If you are considering building a custom home, don’t forget to research the lot! For more information on a custom home in the Colorado Springs area contact Solid Rock Custom Homes and for information on brick construction, contact Acme Brick.