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Guide to Buying Land For Your Timber Frame Home

Posted on Jan 9, 2014
timber frame home under construction

Purchasing land for your future timber home is not as simple as choosing a beautiful location and signing a check; several factors should be considered before you sign that dotted line. James Banner, the President of Riverbend Timber Framing, takes the time to answer a few questions and offers some advice and insight into the process of buying land.

What Are The Top 5 Attributes to Look For When Buying Land For a Timber Frame Home?


Timber frame homes have an emotional appeal and the building lot must complement, and even enhance, that emotional impact. So, it’s a good idea for an owner’s architect to get involved on the front end of the project.


Proximity of the building lot to the owner’s interests and activities is critical. We’ve had clients happy with their home, but not with the location. If your lot is inconveniently located, far from the nearest town or from day-to-day services like grocery stores and restaurants, your location is worth re-considering. On the other hand, the remoteness of the location may be the primary attraction. Another tip for buying land is that buyers should consider proximity to neighbors and other buildings, or future buildings, in the area.

“Too often, owners are surprised by additional costs…such as the cost of excavation, retaining walls, roads and utilities.”

James Banner


 Before purchasing, have the building lot evaluated by a building professional for buildability. Too often, owners are surprised by additional costs they were not aware of before purchasing – such as the cost of excavation, retaining walls, roads and utilities. Owners are sometimes surprised by additional costs that they were not aware of prior to purchasing their property


Re-sale is certainly a consideration but timber home buyers tend to have a broader vision in mind. This is their dream home or perhaps a family retreat. It is my impression that most timber home buyers intend to own their home indefinitely or this is the home they plan for their retirement. This being said, home buyers should still keep an eye on the re-sale value of the home and lot.

Amenities and Utilities

If the building lot is in a developed subdivision, more than likely it will come with more amenities and utilities such as water, power, sewer, cable, etc. Undeveloped lots come with considerably more expense when adding amenities and utilities.

How Important is the Slope of Your Timber Frame Home Land?

It is possible to build on lots with very radical slopes. But, it’s expensive. My advice is that it’s worth the money to first have a survey of the lot, and then discuss the building ramifications with a building professional before buying land with a slope.

What are your top 5 warning signs that a piece of land should be avoided?

Soggy Ground

Soggy soil or underground water can cause a tremendous amount of grief. If there is any question, have soils engineer look at the site.

Unfulfilled Promises from Your Developer

Be very cautious of unfulfilled promises by the developer. If the developer has not yet completed installation of road, utilities, etc., then you might want to consider how you will be covered in the event the developer defaults.

canadian rockies

Clear Title and Building Permits

Make sure the title is clear and you understand all easements and access requirements. It’s a good idea to talk with the local building jurisdiction and see about the requirements for building permit on that specific lot.

Local Development Activities

Being aware of development activities around the lot are important. It would be heartbreaking to learn about a new sewer treatment facility going in next door after you have already purchased the lot.

Why is the Seller Selling in the First Place?

Find out why the seller is selling. Make sure you get full disclosure.

By following these tips as well as seeking advice from architects and local authorities, you can ensure that the land you buy is not only a good fit for your dream timber frame home, but that it will continue to serve your needs and interests later on.Visit our Designing for Your Lot page.

Considerations for Suburban and Rural Timber Frame Home Locations

When you make the decision to build your own home, the natural, first step is to find the location that you want to build. Here we offer some advice on factors to look for and think about when purchasing the most suitable land for the location you wish to live.

Suburban Locations

Perhaps you are someone who plans to build in a suburban area. Here are some specific things to consider and look for when purchasing land close to or within city limits:

timber frame entry

City Planning

Investigate the surrounding area. Will that cow pasture next to your lot always be there, or will it become a grocery store in the next few years? By taking a look at the city’s five year Comprehensive Plan, you can better prepare yourself for what will go on in your neighborhood.

Water Tables

Water tables are something that can affect the design and construction of your home.  If your dream home includes a basement, water tables are an important factor to investigate prior to purchase.


Although your piece of land may not be near a body of water, it can still be situated in a floodplain. By checking with the National Flood Insurance Program or with your state, you can find out exactly where flood lines are drawn in conjunction to that piece of property you want.

Soil Types

The type of soil under your property can sometimes affect the integrity of your home. Getting a soil report for your area can help to determine the capacity of your property’s soil.

Rural Locations

If you are looking to build a lake house or a mountain retreat, further removed from populous areas. Potential issues to be considered when buying land in a rural area include:

buying land


While having a sloped lot offers opportunities like the inclusion of a walk-out basement, it can also require more prep and foundation work during construction.

Access to Utilities

Does your remote location have existing access to necessities like power or gas? Knowing how far away utility connections are and the cost to connect will help you better understand your overall budget needs.

Proximity to Water

Is potable water available on your site? Drilling and pipe work can also impact on your total cost to build.

Read more about site orientation.

If you have a piece of land you are thinking of buying and are looking for some expert advice on how it can affect your design and budget, contact our experts at Riverbend today.

Need More Information?

Whether you’re looking for more information or would simply like to learn more about us and our services, don’t hesitate to contact us. Please follow the link below to access our online form or call us at 888.486.2363 in the US or 888.999.4744 in Canada. We look forward to hearing from you.

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