Have you decided to build your dream home? What an exciting time for you and your family! You’ll have plenty of decisions to make — all starting with the most important one which is where to build. You could spend years in a location before the next move, so think about the option best for you. Consider whether to choose a lot in a new subdivision, an existing subdivision, or on vacant land on rural property.
There are many advantages to consider with existing subdivisions. These include public water and sewer (usually), homeowners associations, other families and kids, sidewalks, and homes built by established builders with a variety of home plans from which to choose, according to Natalie Washburn, Broker of Maleno Real Estate.
One of the developments where the Maleno family builds is Evergreen Farms, located off Route 98, directly across from Fairview School District — one of the state’s best-ranked school districts. The elementary, middle, and high schools sit conveniently on one campus. Washburn noted this proximity to schools is another benefit for families at Evergreen Farms. “The kids can safely walk to most after-school activities. The work commute into the city is about 20 to 25 minutes,” she said.
There are 12 floor plans that Maleno offers in Evergreen Farms which include first or second-floor master suites, finished or unfinished basements, two or three-car garages, and patios or decks. Most of the yards are about a quarter-acre, and fences are permitted.
The subdivision has a homeowners association, which Washburn describes as an insurance policy for residents because it regulates home colors, styles, and the general appearance of the neighborhood. “I look at it from the perspective that your investment is going to be upheld,” she said. “There are rules that everyone has to uphold to preserve the appearance and uniformity of the development.”
You might find a vacant lot in an existing area — maybe someone sells the vacant lot next door. Or, perhaps you’ll find a piece of property in a country setting if you prefer to be away from next-door neighbors. The benefits to building outside of a development include being able to position your home on the lot and choosing a style of your own rather than something that fits a neighborhood’s style or association’s rules. “You are not restricted to floor plans or designs,” Washburn said.
There are several things to consider when building outside of a subdivision. Will you need to clear the land of trees and stumps, and level the land? This can mean finding fill dirt if you need it. You will also need to have township approval of the home plans before you build. Are you able to connect to public water or sewer if it is available or nearby? If water or sewer is not available, you will have to dig a well and install a septic system. These necessities come with additional fees and regulations. Utility hookups will also be a consideration. Something as simple as cable television may not be available.
Depending on where you want to build, you might find a community offering tax breaks. McKean Township, for example, currently offers a Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance program (L.E.R.T.A.). “Homeowners can apply for three years’ tax exemption until 2017 for new construction homes,” Washburn said. You’ll need to know the zoning regulations in your location. Be aware of what and who can build nearby, so you don’t have any surprises in the future. Choosing where to build can be an exciting process!
Choosing your property site, while picturing your home on that site, will be truly rewarding when it’s all done. Remember, selecting the location will be your most important decision — be sure to weigh all your options and plan for the future.