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Posted by Melissa Lynn Galland on Sep 6, 2021 1:51:00 PM
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Oregon is consistently ranked among the best states to call home.

Building on your land in Oregon

Oregon is consistently ranked among the best states to call home. This stunning state is frequently praised for having a high quality of living with beautiful natural scenery, low crime, happy and healthy residents, and plenty to see and do. It’s no wonder that many of our customers choose to build their custom homes in the Beaver State. 

Whether you want to be near the ocean, the mountains, or in one of the lively cities, building a custom home on your own land in Oregon is a bit more involved than selecting a production home. For one thing, there is far more involvement in the customization process than selecting from a boilerplate home design. 

You’ll also need to consider the logistical side as well. Here are a few things to keep in mind before you build:

  • Receive financial preapproval. 
  • Perform due diligence. 
  • Assess the size of your lot. 
  • Ensure you have utility availability. 
  • Conduct a land survey. 
  • Comply with building restrictions. 

The homesite preparation process has many steps to it, and many can be stressful. To help you through the process before you purchase, we have compiled the necessary information to help make the process a bit smoother.

Couple meeting financial adviser for financing pre-approvalFinancing pre-approval

Once you find the ideal property, you’ll want to be able to make an offer immediately, especially in areas where land is selling quickly. That’s why it’s a good idea to get preapproved by your bank before you start your land search. This will make the buying process faster and easier, and it will help you ensure you don’t lose out on your dream location.

Obtaining a land loan is similar to qualifying for a mortgage. To do so, you will need:

  • Excellent credit
  • A debt-to-income ratio of between 30-40 percent
  • Proof of consistent income

In almost every instance of making an offer on land, you will be asked for financing approval, so it’s important to get preapproved before you begin your search. To assist with the financial side of this process, Adair Financial provides financial advising and services to our homebuying clients.

close up of a calendarDue diligence

Once you are prequalified, you can make an offer as soon as you find a lot that is perfect for you. After making an offer, you will have 30 days for due diligence, which is the time frame to investigate the feasibility of the property to determine the buyer’s satisfaction with the purchase. 

There are an endless number of questions you can ask during due diligence, but the following are the primary areas of inspection during the due diligence process:

available land in the inland northwestThe size of your lot

Many Oregon counties have specific restrictions on the minimum size of rural residential land plots. Around certain cities, rural properties must be at least two acres. In other areas, that restriction is 10-20 acres. These rules are meant to help simplify future urban expansion.

When considering the lot size, it’s easy to fixate only on the size of the house. However, it’s equally important to consider what you will be doing on the property, such as cooking outdoors, growing a garden, or building an additional structure at a later point.

While assessing the size of your lot, also consider the wastewater and septic systems, which you will need if your property is not connected to a municipality’s system. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality outlines the necessity of these systems and evaluation steps to ensure your property is suitable for installation. 

For homeowners looking to build their dream home, these zoning requirements might impact the size of the property you obtain as well as how you situate your house on it. Investigate these and other zoning constraints before investing in the land.

ground road and summer sunny dayAvailability of power, water and transportation options

If your land doesn’t already have power and water and is not accessible by road, it’s important to be prepared to pay more money during the site development phase. Site development costs vary widely depending on local fees and permitting costs, soil conditions, and other factors; however, most homeowners can expect an additional $10,000 or more if their property requires a road, utility lines, or a well.

If your property needs extensive site development, it’s a good idea to partner with a homebuilder that works closely with you through the entire process. For example, at Adair Homes, our construction superintendent and branch administrator will help you to collect site-related bids to ensure you are getting the best price possible.

People doing land survey in rural areaLand surveys

No matter where you decide to build a new home in Oregon, it’s important to have your land surveyed. A survey is a small investment that provides a wealth of valuable information that will help protect you from a major issue in the future, either legal or monetary. 

A survey is a valuable tool when obtaining building permits. It will also:

  • Determine the boundary lines and what above-ground and in-ground infrastructure is allowed.
  • Establish the accurate location of proposed structures, accesses, pipelines, buildings, and other aspects of the construction.
  • Tell you how you might be able to divide a larger plot of land if you plan to split the parcel in the future. 

Although it is not necessarily a requirement, it’s always in your best interest to have your land surveyed.

Building restrictions

Finally, it’s important that you understand the rules and regulations that might impact a specific piece of land. Every county and municipality has different requirements and unique regulations, so as you start to explore your building options, it’s a good idea to visit the building department in the municipality that governs your property.


Buying property outside of the big city doesn’t necessarily mean you’re immune to applicable covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs). Some areas are restricted to only custom homes, while others allow mobile homes, production houses, and more. Certain locations allow homeowners to have livestock or chickens, while others are much stricter about animals, outbuildings, and land use. These and other considerations may help you to decide exactly how you want to develop your land.


One of the most common types of regulation that you will run into is zoning. Zoning is the act of categorizing the buildings of a municipality into residential, commercial, and industrial zones. 

While it’s not likely that you will be shown property in nonresidential areas, zoning includes some very specific requirements for a building, including: 

  • Locations of utility lines
  • Restrictions on building setbacks from the street, accessory buildings, and other boundaries
  • Size and height of buildings
  • The number of rooms a building can have 

By visiting your building department in person, you can discuss a specific property to gain valuable information about the scope of work required for a plot of land. Understanding the site limitations before you go too far down a certain path can save you time and money in the long run.

Conservation Efforts 

Oregon takes great pride in its efforts to protect air, water, and land resources as well as the beautiful natural scenery that makes it so attractive to homeowners. Throughout the state, many urban and rural areas have specific rules governing how development—including homes—might impact the state’s abundant natural resources, according to the state’s Department of Land Conservation and Development.

For example, if your land includes running water or lakes, wildlife habitats, wetlands, or certain minerals, you may need to adjust your building plan to accommodate these resources. Contact your local land conservation and development office for more information on your local regulations.

To ensure that you fully understand any rules impacting your land, you should visit the building department of the municipality that governs their property before meeting the Adair construction superintendent for the free site visit. By visiting this department, you can learn valuable information regarding what scope of projects will be allowed and under what conditions.

About Adair Homes

Ready to take that first step down the path of custom homebuilding? Browse our customizable floor plans to see which home would be perfect for your plot of land.

Adair Homes has been building dream homes across the country for the last 50 years. In that time, we’ve helped more than 20,000 families achieve their dream of homeownership, and we take pride in making sure our customers find the perfect home that not only fits their lifestyle but also fits their budget. 

For more info, get in touch with a Home Ownership Counselor in Oregon today.


Ready to take that first step down the path of custom homebuilding?

Browse our customizable floor plans to see which home would be perfect for your plot of land.