Choosing a Lot
- Home Buying Tips
- Tuesday, May 12, 2015
The first step in making a new home purchase, unless it’s a quick possession, or “spec” home, is to choose the lot on which your new home will sit. Lots can vary in size, shape, grading and view. For first timers, it may come as a surprise to you that home prices are calculated based on the “base model” price (the price of the model with it’s basic design features), plus the cost of the lot, GST and any upgrades or extras you choose to include in your build.
I hate to start out by talking about money, but no matter what your pay grade is, living comfortably and within your means should be your first concern. Lot prices can vary … well, a lot, and so can the homes that fit on them. So, it’s a good idea to visit a mortgage specialist to consider your budget before you start looking for a home. Visiting a sales centre with an idea of what you can spend will help your sales manager help you find the best home to suit your needs.
Something to consider is that not all lots can hold all homes, so to some extent you have to choose both the model you want to build and the lot at the same time. At Trico, our single-family models range from about 1300 sq.ft. to almost 3000 sq.ft., with lot sizes ranging from 29′ to 40′ feet to accommodate them. According to City bylaw, a homesite must have 4′ of space on either side of the home on traditional lots, or 5′ for zero lot line.
Calgary is divided into four quadrants: the NW with its panoramic hilltop views; the NE with some of the city’s best access to transit; the SW with its vibrant inner city communities; and the SE, which is home to some of the fastest growing neighbourhoods in the city. According to Henry Luong, our Area Sales Manager for Evanston, the majority of customers who come in looking for a home may not know which community they are considering, but they’ve mostly likely settled on the quadrant they’re interested in.
It is a good idea to know what a particular community can offer you and what you can offer to it. If Calgary is already home, perhaps you already have a favourite community, or you’re looking for a place with an easy commute to work, friends & family, or amenities. If you’re new to Calgary, you might want to start by looking at the community profiles offered by the City of Calgary. Here you’ll find demographic and other statistical information gathered on each community. Take a visit, and be sure to investigate the area thoroughly.
The Other Stuff
Now that you’ve chosen a community, you need to consider the other lot features.
- Direction. Henry tells me that one thing to consider is your yard in relation to the position of the sun. If you choose either a south- or west-facing lot, it will allow for your home to get the most sunshine during the day. If you’re an artist, perhaps you’d prefer a north-facing lot, which allows for the most even, ambient lighting, and a reduction in shadows affecting your artwork. If you’re a gardener, you may want to look for lots with maximum sunlight for your backyard gardens. A southern exposure may also help reduce heating costs in winter. On the downside, even in Alberta, without the right landscaping, they can be too warm in the summer.
- Amenities. Is it close to schools? Transit? Shopping? What about opportunities for recreation? Amenity lots allow convenient access to parks, schools and shopping, and many communities offer walking paths, parks and central places for neighbours to connect. However, with increased proximity to amenities, comes increased noise and traffic.
- Green Spaces & Ponds. Views are probably the most important factor in determining a lot’s value. If you don’t fancy looking out your window into your neighbour’s back yard, choosing a lot backing onto woods, ponds or green spaces may be the best option for you. However, these lots will come at a premium in most communities.
- Cul-de-sac & Pie Lots. Cul-de-sacs are perfect for families as they have little traffic going in and out, resulting in a quieter and safer setting to live in for you and your children, who take playtime outside. If you’re considering a backyard pool, play house, or other structure, cul-de-sacs allow for pie-shaped lots that are wider in back can provide additional space. However, if a lot is narrow at the front, a home’s width may require placement farther back on the property, which will mean a longer driveway.
- Corner Lots. Corner lots have traffic on two sides and are typically larger, allowing for extra space, more yard and more room for parking, which Henry says is appealing to younger families that host family gatherings. Corner lots also give you the opportunity to show of your yard and frontage, and as a bonus, you’ll only have one neighbour. However, these lots will require more landscaping and yard maintenance. If there are sidewalks on both sides, you’ve also got more snow to clear in the winter.
- Walk-out Lots. One of the most popular features in today’s homes is a walk-out basement, which are great for convenient access to your backyard, and spectacular if your home is also backing a pond or green space. The grade of the property will determine whether a walk-out from the basement is possible.
With some investigation and forethought, choosing the right homesite can be fun and exciting. It’s important to remember, that even the very “best” site has its pros and cons, and the right lot will often be a compromise. It’s important to keep your mind and options open as you narrow your selections and finally settle on a lot that is best for you. All of our sales centres have lot maps and knowledgeable sales staff that can help guide you through the process.