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16 Steps to Finding the Perfect Florida Building Lot

If you are looking for a vacant building lot in the Southwest Florida area, there are literally thousands to choose from. Not all of these vacant lots are created equal however. We made this easy to use guide to help you through the process.How to choose a great building lot when buying real estate in Southwest Florida

  1. The most important thing is to find a lot that is in a good location. Proximity to grocery stores, your work, shopping, the beach, hospitals, whatever is important to you is of greatest concern. As the old saying goes; in real estate the three most important things are location, location, and location!
  2. Is the lot you are interested in located on a busy street? Street noise can be a big issue and few people want to deal with it if they don’t have to. If possible choose a lot that is on a non-through street so that traffic in front of your new home will be kept to a minimum.
  3. Is the lot located in a deed restricted community? Whether or not to choose to be in a deed restricted community is purely personal choice. While some like the idea of rules governing the use and maintenance of their home some do not. Deed restrictions are rules that govern the type and size of home you build, how the homes are be maintained, whether or not you can park boats in your yard, etc. Deed restrictions are great until they restrict something that YOU want to do. Usually nicer homes are in deed restricted communities as everyone if forced to keep their home in better condition. Weigh the pros and cons and decide what is right for you. If the lot is in a deed restricted community, what are the restrictions? Do agree with these restrictions? Is there something specific that you want to be able to do that is against the restrictions?
  4. If the lot is in a non-deed restricted community and therefore there are no rules to follow, are the homes around the lot nice and tidy? Does the neighbor have a junk yard in the back of his house? Be careful!
  5. Does the lot have utilities running to it currently? Make sure most importantly that electric is available without having to run your own poles as this can become extremely costly.
  6. Does the lot have cable TV service? You can always get a Dish or DirecTV service, but for the best high speed internet service in Charlotte or Sarasota County you will want Comcast cable. The problem is Comcast doesn’t seem to want to run their lines in as many places as their customers would like. There are some other choices for broadband internet including DSL from CenturyLink and Verizon, but the speeds are generally slower with these services. (Unless if course you can find a lot with fibre optic service which is very rare.)
  7. Does the lot have access to public water, and public sewer? Wells can be dug and septic tanks can be installed for roughly the same price as water and sewer hook-up costs in Charlotte and Sarasota County. Well water will most likely require a whole house water filtration system as the water here is not the best…think sulphur, iron and salt issues.
  8. Is the lot located in a Scrub Jay habitat? This is a protected bird that looks kind of like a Blue Jay. Make sure the lot isn’t located in a scrub jay area because building in one of these areas can be a lengthy paperwork filled process.
  9. You may want to check the lot for Gopher turtles, if they are present, it will cost money to have them relocated.
  10. Is the lot in a flood zone? The higher the ground the better. If it is in an flood zone, you will likely incur building costs during building as your home may need to be on a few courses of stem wall. If you own a home in a flood zone and you have a mortgage, that mortgagor will require you to carry flood insurance.
  11. Does the lot look like it will need a lot of fill dirt to bring it up to the required level of elevation for your home build? If it is too low, then your house will need to be built on a stem wall foundation, and this can become quite expensive.
  12. Are there lots of large trees on the lot or is it cleared? Lots of big trees will cost more to clear.  Look out for very large trees known as "Heritage" trees.  Removing old growth types of trees may require special permitting from the county and end up costing you more money to build on that specific lot.
  13. Is the lot located on a canal? Is the canal freshwater or saltwater? One benefit of being on a freshwater canal is that you can use the canal water to irrigate your lawn.
  14. If you are looking for a lot on a saltwater canal with gulf access, what is the depth of the canal? Are there any bridges in between you and open water? What size boat can you get under these bridges? How long would it take to get into the Gulf of Mexico with a boat? How many feet of waterfrontage are there? Are you at the end of a canal where all the debris goes and in likely to fill in with silt?
  15. How big is the lot? In Charlotte County you can build on 35% of the lot and in Sarasota County it’s 33%. A standard lot in this area is 80x125 ft. That allows for a total Square footage of a home to be no more than 3500sqft total in Charlotte County. Upper floors are excluded from this measurement.
  16. Size and shape of the lot needs to be taken into account. Will your desired home fit on the lot you are looking at? What about a pool? Cul-de-sac lots are nice but usually require a home that is designed for that shape of lot. Ask you Realtor or Builder for help in this area.
  17. What is the exposure of your lot? If you plan on installing a pool, a southern exposure is best as the pool will have the benefit of full sun for most of the day. If you don’t plan on installing a pool, this is not as important. Some people avoid a North facing lot, as when you are on the lanai in the winter it might get a little cold. Some people want to avoid West facing lots as in the summer, the sun beating in on your lanai in in through your sliding glass doors could get hot. There are many theories on which direction is best. Its personal preference, there are no right or wrong answers here.

Remember, not only can Program Realty help you with buying a great lot; we can also help you select a reputable builder to build your dream home on the lot. We know all the builders and can help you sort through their masses in relation to build quality, price, what’s included and what are upgrades, time frames, etc. Never walk into a builder without a Program Realty associate there to help you. Remember, builders love for us Realtors to bring them new clients and they pay our fee so there is no cost to you, the buyer.

Jason Painter of Program Realty


#1 By Walt Steidinger at 11/20/2017 5:24 AM

Nice article, very informative. This information will help in our decision process.

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