1. Stick with Your Passion
When you begin planning, never cut those pastimes short. “Your interests should dictate 90 percent of your decision,” says John Ricketson, a project manager with Hearthstone, Inc. “You want to be in a region close to the activities you like, whether it’s skiing, fishing, hunting or hiking.” With your hobbies as your compass, seek out conducive pieces of land in the mountains, at the lake or along the shore.
2. Check Out Hotspots
When it comes to sought-after property, the Southeast — particularly North Carolina and north Georgia — are at the top of the post-recession list. These areas have loads of available and diverse land and are close to national forests and large lakes and boast world-class golf courses, hunting and fishing. These locations, along with the always-popular Catskills in New York and the Colorado Rockies have another advantage going for them: They are close to metropolitan areas, offering a dose of urban life when you want it.
3. Be Practical
Not to put a damper on your cabin-in-the-woods dream, but your perfect home has to be paired with some practical considerations, too. Proximity to medical care, fire/rescue facilities, schools and shopping, not to mention access to public utilities (unless your dream is to live off the grid), should all be evaluated when you’re making your selection.
4. Weigh All Options
When it comes to the price of your perfect parcel, it’s no secret that resort areas cost more (sometimes three to four times more) to build in than their less-touristy counterparts. This is a classic case of supply and demand: A big demand for a small amount of land equals sky-high price tags. If the resort life is something you crave and can afford, go for it!
They make fantastic and very convenient places to live. However, building outside a resort can save you some serious cash, and by not having to subscribe to the compound’s building guidelines (and yes, most of them have them), you likely will have more options when it comes to the size and design of your log home outside of a planned community or resort area.
Whether you build in a luxury resort or on a private tract, rarely is there such a thing as completely “perfect” piece of land. But more often than not, there will be one plot that will speak to you in a way the others don’t. That’s the one.
5. Figure in Site Specifics
Another factor that affects price is terrain. While living in a remote mountain locale may be really desirable, steep lots and a lack of onsite storage during construction can make building there a bit of a challenge. Plus, building materials often need to be transferred to smaller trucks to make the journey up the mountainside to the site. From a design standpoint, your roof may have to be highly reinforced to handle snow loads. All of this adds time and cost to your project.
Waterfront properties bring up a host of other issues. They often require custom-designed septic systems and special erosion-control measures. Building near the coast will require hurricane-proofing measures in addition to flood protection. It’s also likely they all will mandate that you to secure speciality insurance coverage.
And last but not least, the region of the country you pick will always influence the budget. The Northeast, West and Rockies lead the pack in material and labor costs. There are still bargains to be had in the Southeast and Midwest. Some areas are recovering from the housing crash quicker than others, but labor shortages persist in many pockets of the country, impacting construction schedules and cost. Be sure to shop around.
At the end of the day, this is the place where your dreams will be fulfilled and memories will be made for years to come. Let these five tips steer your brain in the right direction, and from there, choose the one that speaks to your heart.