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5 Tips for Buying Land

Updated: Jan 18

1. Zoning


While it might sound obvious, you always want to ensure that your intended use of the property matches the existing zoning. Nearly every listing will include this information which should always be confirmed the with the local township. Many municipalities have their zoning maps and a description of each zoning category online.


Should you need to change the existing zoning, you will need to obtain a zoning variance from the local planning authority. The variance process varies between municipalities, but any variance will invariably involve additional time and costs.


2. Setbacks


What you can build on a piece of property is governed by zoning and setbacks. A setback is the minimum distance which a building, or other structure, must be set back from a street or road, a river or other stream, a shore, or flood plain. This information may be included in the property listing but will definitely be reported on the property survey.


3. Utilities


Public utilities vs septic & well. Public utilities are able to be hooked up directly to your home for a nominal hook-up fee. In more rural areas, these services are not necessarily available in which case you will need to install a well and septic system. Such a system must be designed by an engineer and will involve additional costs. You also want to be sure that the water and sewer lines are installed from the main in the street to the curb. If not, there could be additional costs for street closing permits, opening the street, backfilling the street when finished etc. Check out our post on septic & well for all the details.


4. Accessibility


Land that is easy to build on will help keep your project on budget. When evaluating a potential property, try to avoid the following:


- Dense trees and brush

- Steep hills

- Extensive overhead wires

- Narrow road access


5. Coastal Concerns


Building near the water comes with special concerns. Most importantly, any site subject to flood risk must be elevated above the "Base Flood Elevation (BFE)" for a given location. Phoenix has been building along the New Jersey coast for decades. We have extensive experience setting homes on piling foundations and ensuring compliance with all local and state codes. In certain situations, a New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection ("NJDEP") permit may be required. While this will add additional time and cost to your project, our team will help you navigate the process in the most efficient manner.


The Phoenix team is very experienced in examining and identifying property conducive for modular building. Please reach out to us with any questions.



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