By Larry Gilland

Locating the property upon which to build a home is one of the most important decisions a homeowner must make before the custom home can become a reality. You can locate the property in several ways. Driving around several locations which you have heard about from friends or relatives may help you to define what you are looking for. If this isn't possible, enlisting the help of an area realtor will help to locate an area quickly. Some properties are committed lands meaning that the land is bought as part of a package which includes using a specific builder and/or a specific type or style of house. Remember that if you do choose to enlist the help of a realtor, the realtor is entitled to his commission if you decide to purchase the property even at a later date. If the realtor suggests a specific contractor for the construction of your home, he will also be entitled to a referral fee from that contractor. These commissions and referral fees will ultimately be paid by the homeowner somewhere along the line.

The location of the homesite will determine a number of factors about the house itself. A homeowner must think about these factors when selecting a homesite location. Some of the factors are:

1. Climate will determine the general area of the country that a homeowner will feel most comfortable in but....

2. Lifestyle will be the first real determining factor in the general location of the homesite. Whether the homeowner(s) work and must commute to a job or the homeowner(s) are retired and need only for life's necessities to be convenient will make an important impact in deciding upon the lot or land they choose to build upon. If there are children or elderly to consider, other factors become paramount.

If a homeowner plans to entertain small or large groups of extended family members or business associates then this becomes a factor that will influence a home's location and size.

3. Topography: Lifestyle and climate will determine the size and style of the house but the "lay of the land” or topography will influence the actual design/shape of the house. If a homeowner has some concrete ideas as to the shape and style of the house he prefers, the land must meet the needs required by those preferences. It's difficult to place a one story, ranch-style home on a steeply sloped, mountainous ravine wall or conversely, to build a multi-leveled house with a walk-out basement on a flat rock bed. This CAN be accomplished but at great expense to the homeowner. It is best to be realistic about what one wants and what one has to work with. A bit of forethought is essential when choosing the type of land to build on. In this instance, a homeowner must think of a number of factors at the same time....unfortunately.

4. Resale is a factor to consider because most of us will, at some point in our lives, need to sell the home we live in. Obviously, we want the selling process to be as painless and as quick as possible while yielding a profit as a result of the sale. The next homeowner will purchase your home for the same reasons you did. They will be considering their requirements just as you are determining yours now. Negative factors that cannot be rectified may prevent your reselling your home in the future.

5. View: What do you want to look at when you wake up each morning?

This may sound crazy but when you select the property you want to build on, you will need to think of the setting which will surround your home. Once you're living within your home, you will spend the majority of the time looking out FROM inside with very little time looking AT the house. In the beginning of the custom home process, it seems that your viewpoint is an external one. Your time is spent looking at blueprints, elevations (drawings of the outside walls of the house) and the actual construction process itself. You must learn to imagine yourself INSIDE of the building. When you are within your home, you should be happy when you peer from its windows.

To be continued in Part 2