Finding Land to Build Your Dream Home

Finding land to build your dream home takes time. The process begins with deciding on the right location and exploring available lots to determine the conditions you have to work with. Then you can look at existing homes in the area for design inspiration and start searching thousands of house plans to find the perfect fit for your own needs!

Whether you have a rural, suburban, or urban lot in mind, or perhaps you want a mountain or waterfront property, selecting the right land to build your dream home is critical. So, explore your options! Try an online resource for finding land like Land.com. Sign up to be notified of auctions in their network, so you can find highly discounted properties. If you go this route, keep in mind that auctions have a short timeline and you need to come ready to purchase.

luxury mountain craftsman house plan
House Plan 8643 offers luxurious Craftsman style with an open floor plan and stunning outdoor living spaces in back.

Determine How Much Land You Can Afford

Once you’ve established your budget for construction, plan to allot approximately 25% of that budget to purchasing the land. So, if you have a budget of $500,000, you should spend around $125,000 for the lot. Keep in mind that if you buy raw land, you will have to pay for clearing and grading. Also consider the extra expenses that will arise if you choose to build far away from utility hookups. If you want an easy solution, take a look at subdivisions. Developers typically lay all the groundwork for the neighborhood, so you only have to choose the lot you like!

If possible, paying cash for your land will make it easier to negotiate the cost and get approval for a construction loan. Why? Because the lender will view the paid land as equity. This is especially true for underdeveloped areas where the cost to prepare the land is greater. You’ll have an easier time getting funding for lots in an existing development with infrastructure already in place.

modern ranch farmhouse
A chic modern farmhouse design, House Plan 7223 offers front and rear views from the two oversized covered porches

Hire a Realtor Before Purchasing the Land

Many people get stuck in a contract for land that isn’t suitable for construction. To avoid this, work with a real estate agent for extra protection. Raw land or lots for sale by owner may not fully disclose details like building restrictions, setbacks, and limitations with water and electricity. Agents can help you submit an offer that allows you to withdraw if you can’t obtain a building permit or secure a lender. You’ll have to pay the agent their commission, but that’s a nominal fee compared to owning land that’s not buildable.

Determine How Much Land You Need

Once you’ve established where you want to build, search for land that allows you to create your dream home! Familiarize yourself with any restrictions and/or setbacks to ensure you can build the size and style of home you want on that lot. Setbacks are restrictions on where a home can be built on the property, such as a required distance from the property line or curb. For example, if you find a 100’ x 100’ lot but it has 25’ setbacks, it has half the buildable space you might expect at first glance. 

When shopping for lots in a development, check all the HOA requirements. Some HOAs are very strict, dictating the type of home you can build down to the color, location of the garage, etc. Of course, rules exist even outside of HOAs. If you’re buying acreage to build a sprawling ranch or family compound, make sure you verify how many structures are allowed with your local building department. 

If you still can’t find the perfect lot, look for expired and withdrawn listings. Many sellers get frustrated when their land doesn’t sell quickly. After renewing the listing so many times, they abandon the idea, but you can still contact the landowner directly to ask about selling.


Once you’ve found and purchased your land, it’s time to select your house plans. The House Designers offers an extensive collection of architectural styles and specialty collections to make finding your dream home fun and easy.

Beautiful Waterfront House Plans

We’ve selected some top waterfront house plans that are designed to maximize views. Most of the plans in this collection offer a walkout basement option to adapt to a sloping lot and add an extra level for outdoor living spaces.

lake house plan
House Plan 8851 – 1,729 Square Feet with Contemporary Lake Style
cottage lake house plan
House Plan 9857 – 1,340 Square Feet with Cottage Lake Style

Beautiful Narrow Lot House Plans

These new narrow lot house plans pack a lot of square footage in a small footprint. Here are some trending two-story home plans that are 40’ wide or less in a range of styles and sizes.

narrow lot farmhouse
House Plan 8813 – 40′ Wide with 2,456 Square Feet
contemporary house plan
House Plan 1108 – 40′ Wide with 3,633 Square Feet
narrow lot cottage house plan
House Plan 9854 – 27’6″ Wide with 1,619 Square Feet
modern walkout house plan
House Plan 1346 – 40′ Wide with 3,125 Square Feet

Fabulous Modern Farmhouse Floor Plans

Everybody loves modern farmhouse floor plans! These designs combine timeless country elements like gables, board and batten siding, and large porches with modern features like large windows and clean lines. Inside, you’ll find open floor plans with modern amenities and vintage details like barn doors and wood beams.

farmhouse
House Plan 7811 – 2,913 Square Feet with 4 Bedrooms
farmhouse
House Plan 9899 – 1,993 Square Feet with 3 Bedrooms

Need help finding a house plan for your new land? Request a custom plan search or live chat with a home plan advisor. Perhaps you need modifications to perfect a design? We can facilitate those as well. We always do our best to match customers to their dream homes! Feel free to reach out whenever you’re ready.

Christine Cooney
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Christine has over a decade of experience as a house plan and floor plan expert. Outside of providing her expertise to customers to help them find and build their dream homes, her passion and knowledge of the home building industry allows Christine to guide families and builders through all of the important steps from finding plans to building custom homes that meet the expectations of today’s new home owner. Christine’s years of knowledge of the diverse trends and needs of the modern homeowner has made her into an authoritative and trusted voice in the online house plan community.

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