Checklist for Buying Land & Building a Home

Building your own home allows you to design your ideal floor plan.

Building your own home allows you to design your ideal floor plan.

You've searched for months and the real estate market has nothing listed matching your ideal home. You've now decided to take a major step and build your dream home. Whether you're building the home yourself or hiring a contractor to do the heavy lifting, a checklist of must-dos keeps the home building process moving along on an even pace. The checklist keeps everyone sane until the building inspector certifies the home as move-in ready.

Land Selection

Selecting potential lots for your new house means the consideration of the topography. A lot with uneven terrain means grading and separate inspections to ensure the preparation matches your home plans. Checklists must also confirm property natural gas, electric and telephone lines — unless you plan to live off the grid and forgo traditional power sources. Your checklist for the land requires researching available sewer, water and trash services for the property. If your selected property is in a state with major weather events, your checklist must show research for access roads and snowplowing services. Flooding is also a problem for some acreage and lots with this potential problem require hiring drainage experts for advice. Checklists also feature hiring professionals to do water well and percolation tests to investigate the soil for septic systems and adequate water for your new household.

Planning and Architects

Finding an architect or searching for commercial building plans adds extra checks for your list. Researching the background and work experience of possible architects means selecting a qualified professional. The property site and building plans typically go through at least one modification and a comprehensive checklist includes more than one look at the plans.


Financing your land and new house means a bit of finesse to pay for your property, locate and qualify for a construction loan at decent interest rates and then rolling both the property and the new house into a conventional mortgage loan. A checklist for your financial information, title reports, escrow services and lender requirements helps keep all of the different loans organized and on track for approval at the time you need the money.

Contractors and Builders

Checks for builders, contractors and subcontractors include researching licenses and contacting local business bureaus and your secretary of state for possible complaints against all the workers involved in building your house. Add checks for workers operating under restricted contracting licenses. Matching contractors with licenses means the workers on your home have proper training and certification to complete the projects.


Your list for permits includes checks for researching county and local construction laws and regulations and locating printed copies of the building specifications for land preparation and home building. The grading, any well or septic systems, driveways and utility connections all require permits — sometimes for more than one government agency. Add a special category on your permit checklist for posting required signs on the property or running newspaper announcements before starting construction. Failing to meet these standards means major building delays.

About the Author

*I have written chapters and articles for Oxford and Harvard University Presses, ABC-CLIO, and others. Arcadia Press published two of my local history texts and I have also written for numerous "article sites," including Pagewise in 2002. My "How to become a...real estate agent" is available as an online text from a Canadian publisher. *I taught writing courses at a branch campus of Indiana University. *I held a California real estate license and have remodeled four of my own homes and advised others on financing homes, repairing credit to qualify for loans, and managing construction (including meeting local, state, and federal regulations for restoration and development grants). *I served as an AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteer and wrote nearly $75,000 in small education grants (under $1,000). *My travels include frequent road trips in Canada, Mexico, U.S., and Europe. I attended school at Cambridge University and used this as a base to explore the UK and Europe.

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