One unique part of buying your new home is the homesite upon which you’ll build. In any given community, development or neighborhood, builders will be selling a selection of six to ten floor plans and four to five elevations (the way the exterior of the house appears from the front.) Builders regulate the number and placement of each floor plan and elevation to make sure that identical homes are not placed side by side or across the street from each other. This helps avoid a “cookie cutter-like” appearance to the neighborhood. It also helps home values for resale in the future by limiting the number of homes that may directly compete with each other.

The first step of narrowing your search is deciding in what part of town you’d like to live. Then you narrow it down to the communities using critical criteria such as schools, travel times, and proximity to your job, friends or family. Generally, you’ll drive through a community at least once prior to walking into a model. These drive throughs are important to discovering the look and feel of a community while you determine if it’s the right fit.

Try driving through on both a weekend and during the week, as the personality of the community may be different. Look for things like homesite size, community cleanliness, neighbor activities and parking. Characteristics such as front, rear or side entry entrance garages make a huge difference in community appearance.

How far apart are the houses and how close to the street are they? Are the streets wide enough to accommodate traffic, but narrow enough to discourage speeding? All these are critical evaluations you’ll make as you drive through each community. Remember, if it bothers you a little at this point, it will bother you a lot the longer you live in the home.

Be aware that when buying or building a new home the cost of the homesite may not be included in the “list price” of a new home. While the new home sales counselor is talking about the available homesites in the community, you’ll hear the terms “homesite premium” or “lot premium.” These terms mean building your home on one of these sites will cost more than other homesites.

Often, when a builder or developer purchases a piece of land, they know corner lots, oversized homesites, sites with privacy, additional trees or great views are in demand and will raise the price. Generally a builder will have a good selection of attractive homesites that range in price from zero to thousands of dollars depending on the characteristics of the property.

Unique homesites will not only add to your quality of life, but when you’re ready to sell your home it will add to your resale value. Don’t despair if you’ve found a perfect lot that comes with a premium, the cost a builder charges you for a premium lot is negotiable and you may get your perfect homesite for less than you think!

The wonderful thing about homesites is that they’re all unique. Every single one has its own view, elevation, slope and character. Take in all these considerations as you search. Try to separate your homesite “wants” from your “needs.” An oversize lot is nice, but it comes with more landscaping costs. Corner lots are usually bigger, but there is additional traffic associated with them. Water view homesites are limited in supply and builders will want to get a premium for them. Carefully examine all these elements as you review your choices and weigh the cost and benefits of each premium homesite.

As you continue to move through the home buying process, you’ll eventually select a new home “plan”. Once you’ve selected your plan, your new home sales counselor will show you the homesites for which your plan is appropriate. Big homes don’t fit on small lots and very often a builder is reluctant (or even forbidden by community standards) to put a smaller floor plan on a large lot.

By now, the sales counselor should know what you want, and present you with a few options. If you have a favorite lot and it’s not in the selection they present you with, inquire if that homesite is still available or appropriate for this plan. Review all the recommended selections and then it’s time to walk each homesite.

As you approach each homesite, you should have a copy of the floor plan in your hands. You’ll want the builder to mark off the corners of the foundation on the site and show you exactly how your home will sit on this particular piece of property. From there, you can walk to your “kitchen” and survey the views you’ll see each day.

You’ll be able to see how your back yard would lay out in reference to the rest of the home and you can evaluate the view from your bedroom window. If you’re planning on putting in a pool or outdoor kitchen, make sure these are marked too so you can make a fully informed decision about this homesite. This is an exciting time, and many rush past this step but you’ll never be able to fully evaluate this homesite without it. Extra time at this step will always pay off down the line.

Once you have been shown all the appropriate lots for your home, sited each one with the sale representative, reviewed the costs and benefits associated with each, you’ll be able to weigh each one and make the best decision for you and your family.