Building on your own Lot

A Step by Step Guide to building on your own lot (BOYL)

By: Tim Hopkins

Are you frustrated with your home search? You can’t seem to find the type of home your looking for with the right yard? Perhaps you want more customization or optimal views with little development? You might want to consider building on your own lot or BOYL. We have agents who specialize in this type of real estate  as well as several fabulous lots for sale and would love to help you in the BYOL process to achieve your dream.

Thomas Run Road Drone Video

Getting Started

First off, you will want to find a great lot. You will want to take into consideration:

  • Topography
  • Access to utilities
  • Easements
  • Zoning
  • Architectural guidelines and review processes
  • Nearness to interstates and heavily traveled roads
  • Personal preferences for animals or livestock
  • What you plan on using the land for
  • Acreage and maintenance of the land

Find a house plan and builder

There are several routes to finding a house plan. Begin by searching on the internet for  house plans you like and determine the best style and type of home for your needs. Once you have that settled you will want to hire a professional to assist with the details.

  • Build on Your lot Builder- These types of companies have a library of floor plans  for your to choose from, but have limitations on how much you can customize. These companies  also have a team of builders to build your home ready to go.
  • Design/Build Firm- Works with you to plan your home from the ground up using in house architects, contractors and interior designers. They have professional teams to build your home with knowledge of the process and legalities.
  • Architect plus Builder- The optimum choice for customized homes. Offer the most flexibility to work with your vision and design preferences. You will need to hire a separate contractor to do the building. Make sure the builder and architect are compatible and will work within your budget constraints.

Do your homework

Building your own home on your land can be a great experience allowing you more freedom for customization and possibly more privacy and acreage. However, as they say,”with great freedom comes great responsibility” and this means due diligence on your part to ensure you get the most for your money and the best experience possible.

  • Study your land-
    • Work with a civil engineer or builder to make sure you are following regulations and help determine the best home style and positioning for your home.
  • Customize your floor plan
    • Work with your chosen design/build, builder or architect to determine your choices and how it will factor into the price.
  • Discover how long it takes to build on your lot
    • Most homes take 4-6 months  from ground breaking, but legal issues (permits) or natural constraints (weather) might make the process longer as well as how much customization you want in your home.
  • Determine how much it will cost to build on your lot
    • The more you customize the higher the price
  • Research designers and builders and their reputations in the area as well as their experience.
    • Choose a builder with strong experience building on the type of lot you have.
    • Select a builder who has strong buying power to safeguard the best prices for high quality building materials.
    • Make sure the builder has a good warrantee program
    • Hire a lawyer or realtor to go over contracts with you to establish fairness and liability protections.
  • Know what goes into the cost breakdown of your contract.
    • Understand differences between turn key pricing and a cost plus contract.
    • Discern  contingency costs
    • Read the contract carefully for the fixed total cost and a breakdown of builder responsibilities.
  • Know how to pay your builder
    • Voucher book vs. Draw
  • Understand construction insurance and get the best policy for your needs.
  • Know the laws of the land and of building policy and liability.

We’re here to help

All of this homework can seem daunting and the prospect of BOYL difficult,  but achieving the dream of having your own customized home on a perfect piece of land is worth it. We have experienced professionals in our practice who will guide you through this process. Their expertise in this area, along with their connections to builders, designers and lenders in the local vicinity will be a great asset to you along the way. If you’re interested in building your own home or in purchasing a lot, we hope you will keep us in mind.

About the Author: Tim holds the Graduate Realtors Institute (GRI) designation and has been a licensed realtor since 1981. From 1996 to 2015 Tim was the broker/owner of Harry Hopkins Company, a family-owned real estate firm founded in 1961. He has also owned residential and commercial rental properties in the Baltimore Metro region.


Streett Hopkins Real Estate

(410) 879-7466
118 S. Main Street
Bel Air, MD 21014

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