Whether you want to be near the ocean, the mountains, or in the center of one of the country’s largest tech hubs, Washington is an excellent place to build a new home.
Just like in any other state, you have choices in Washington when opting for new construction. You can choose from a limited selection of styles in a preplanned development—which are typically boilerplate designs with little to no option for customization—or you can build a custom home on your own lot.
If you already own land or are looking for property in Washington, there are a few things to keep in mind before you build:
- Local regulations vary based on location.
- Your property should undergo a survey independent of the previous owner.
- You should ensure your lot size is suitable for the home you plan to build.
- You must comply with building codes.
- You should prequalify for a loan prior to searching for property.
The homesite preparation process has many steps to it, and many can be stressful. To help you through the process prior to purchase, we have compiled the necessary information to help make the process a bit smoother.
Understand Local Regulations
Every county and municipality has different requirements and unique regulations. 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.
The most common type of regulation that you will run into is zoning. The purpose of zoning is to categorize the buildings of a municipality into residential, commercial, and industrial zones. And you don’t want to purchase property for a home in the industrial district of town, right?
Zoning includes some very specific requirements for a building, including:
- Utility line locations
- Restrictions on building setbacks from the street, accessory buildings, and other boundaries
- Building size and height
- Number of rooms
By visiting the building department in person and discussing a specific property, you can get some valuable information about the scope of work that is allowed and under what conditions. Understanding the site limitations before you go too far down a certain path can save you time and money in the long run.
Have the Site Surveyed
No matter where you decide to build a new home in Washington, having your land surveyed is critical. A survey is a small investment that provides a wealth of valuable information that will help you protect a much larger investment.
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.
Consider the Lot Size
When considering the lot size of a property, it’s easy to fixate on whether the house itself will fit. It’s equally important to consider what you will be doing on the lot, such as playing games on the lawn, cooking outdoors, or building an additional structure at a later point.
While assessing the size of your lot, also include the wastewater and septic systems, which are governed by the Washington State Department of Health. In order to prevent degradation of groundwater, the department has created rules about the minimum size of lots for building new homes.
The current minimum lot size is 12,500 square feet; however, local health officers can issue permits for smaller lots that meet certain criteria. It is also important to know that your house, driveway, and on-site sewage system must all fit within the necessary setbacks, so consider this as you evaluate the property.
Comply with the State Building Code
The Washington building code defines the minimum construction requirement for the state and includes regulations for systems such as mechanical, plumbing, fire safety, energy use, and ventilation.
While you don’t necessarily need to understand the code yourself, your new home must meet or exceed the standards, so selecting a builder that is familiar with state and municipal codes is critical for staying on budget and completing construction without delays due to permitting issues.
Get Prequalified for Financing
If you don’t yet own land in Washington but are planning to buy, it’s a good idea to get financing approval before you even start a land search. 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, and proof of consistent income.
In almost every instance, when making an offer on land, you will be asked for financing approval. To assist with the financial side of this process, Adair Financial provides financial advising and services to our homebuying clients.
Once you are already prequalified, you can make an offer as soon as you find a lot that you like. Properties in Washington are moving fast, so having the ability to make an offer immediately can give you an edge. After making an offer, you will have 30 days for due diligence, which is the time frame to investigate the property to determine the buyer’s satisfaction with the purchase. Use this time to determine the feasibility of building on the property.
Lynn Tribon, director of market growth, offers this advice: “Once you have identified a property, make an offer immediately with a due diligence time frame of up to 30 days. Since properties are moving rapidly, the best way to secure land is to make an offer and then utilize Adair's free site visit to help determine the feasibility of building on the property.”
Adair Homes offers a free site visit with one of our construction superintendents. If you are considering a property, or if you already own land, we can work with you to evaluate the site and determine which of our 2021 custom home plans will be most suitable for your lifestyle and your lot constraints. Contact us today to speak with a Home Ownership Counselor and start the process for building on your own land in Washington.
About Adair Homes
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 home ownership, 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 us here or call 1-844-518-7072.