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Finding the perfect lot for your custom home:

Updated: Aug 11, 2023

The first phase in building your dream home is finding a perfect lot. We are a custom home builder that specializes in "build on your lot".

So, the big question is, "How do you find the perfect piece of land?"

Some homeowners come to us with land that they have been sitting on for years and waiting for the perfect time to build, others have inherited land from a family member, or maybe you have started your lot search with a realtor.

All the above are great, but if you don't have a real estate agent or a family member that you are inheriting land from, that's ok too! We work with an amazing team of agents in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and they are always keeping us in the loop of available land.

As a custom home builder that "builds on your lot", we have learned that there are not many builders who will do this. Why is that? Because most builders like to build in their neighborhoods that are pre-developed so there are no surprises on the lot prep pricing. We have an in-house land specialist who has years of experience reviewing lots and letting homeowners know what to expect with costs. Also, we just love the unique lots we get to work with. That way we can design a custom home and maximize the views around it.

Another move people have done to find a lot/tear down is knocking on doors. This might sound crazy, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. You might catch someone at the perfect time, and making it personal by knocking on a door or writing a letter just might get you that dream lot.

Lot Conditions

It’s easy to get excited by a beautiful piece of land in the perfect location, and we want to help keep that excitement going, but be realistic about what it will cost to build the home you want...your Dream Home! Our land expert, builder, and architect will do a free homesite inspection. They will go over our checklists that we will discuss in our 6 steps below.

Clear Lot:

Nothing over one foot high including grass, trees, bushes, etc. in the area and perimeter of where the house will be placed.

Wooded Lot:

When trees and/or bushes are in the location and perimeter where the house is to be placed, they will need to be removed.

Lake/ River Lot:

Lake and river lots are a whole different process. We have to take into consideration all the rules and regulations of the shorelines in that specific city, county, or township. That is all part of having a beautiful piece of land, and that is exactly why you call in the experts like us to take care of you.

We have noticed that sometimes the best properties are the ones that people were too afraid to build on! (link to our podcast below to listen to some obstacles we had to overcome when building on challenging lots.)

Here are examples of different kinds of lot conditions we have in MN and WI:

6 steps after finding your lot

1. Get Information on the land:

Bring in your builder early when looking at land, because we can help you choose between multiple lots you may be considering. We can get you information on what it is going to cost to build on the lot. Builders consider site conditions, well, septic, etc. (Septic trades are very territorial and know the land, they can be a great resource when considering land).

Having any existing information on the land is helpful, like surveys or soil tests. But if you don't have any information, that is ok and something we can get for you.

2. Site Visit:

At this meeting, we go over our off-site checklist. This checklist reviews everything we need to know about your lot including:

-How the lot lays out



-Best views

-Walk-out, look-out, or flat lot

-Length of the driveway

- Positioning of the house

-and much more!

We try to design the house to fit the lot, not the other way around; being a custom home builder, we can do just that.

3. Getting estimates:

We take all the information we collected for your lot and put together ballpark numbers. Site prep numbers are highly educated estimates and they are usually very close to the final price. This is a great negotiating tool when purchasing land. If there are unexpected costs that you wouldn’t typically have on a different lot, you might be able to get the price down. This is why it is so important for your builder and real estate agent to work together.

4. Get a contingency :

It is so important to have a contingency of at least 30 days, but ideally a 60-day contingency. When building on an empty lot, it is nice to have this security in case the builder runs into any unknowns. We want to get trades out on the lot to firm up pricing. 30 days is normal, but stretching it out to 60 days is really helpful. If everything comes in faster we can close sooner.

5. Firm up bids:

Now that we have brought all the trades out to the site, we can firm up the bids. As a builder, we are very transparent about the costs. We do this as a builder so our homeowners can compare prices and sometimes choose to handle some of the lot prep themselves to save costs.

6. Closing on the lot:

At this point, we know as much as we can about the land and have the numbers to start the build. Homeowners can either close on the lot, or we can combine your home and lot loan (to save some money) if we have the floor plan designs ready to go. We work with great lenders for construction to perm loans that we can recommend.


Purchasing land and building your dream home is one of the biggest investments you will ever make. We wanted to hopefully educate you more on the process, and this blog corresponds with Episode #2: Purchasing Land to Build Your Dream Home. We are taking you step by step through building a home on our Podcast "If Walls Could Talk". Enjoy!

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