What to Know Before Buying an Empty Lot

empty lot

If you are looking for a new property, you can end up spending a great deal of time searching online listings and attending viewings, but still not find something that ticks all the boxes.

It can be especially hard to find the right property for your needs, if you have specific requirements that simply cannot be met by most standard homes.

If your dream home doesn’t yet exist, an empty lot can provide the perfect blank canvas for you to design and build your dream home, and can seem like the perfect solution. Unfortunately, buying an empty lot isn’t as simple as it sounds, and there are a number of considerations that you would be advised to make before signing on the dotted line.

To help get you started, here is our guide to what to know before buying an empty lot.

Financing your dream home on your open lot

Unlike property purchases, land alone cannot be secured with borrowed funds. As such, you’ll need to be certain you have the cash available for this element of your dream home project. However, don’t panic – you shouldn’t need to stump up 100% of the costs immediately. Construction loans are much more easily obtained, as the house you are planning to build serves as collateral.

Check the zoning on the land

The zoning classification is probably the most important and first thing to check when it comes to finding an empty lot for a project. Some of the most commonly used zoning classifications include residential, mixed use, commercial, industrial and agricultural. You can find out the zoning classification on the empty lot that you are considering by making a quick call to the local planning and zoning department.

Once you have been given the zoning classification, you will have a good idea what types of property will be allowed on the land. This will help you to decide if this variety of property will fit your needs and will be permissible on the proposed spot of land.

Access and utilities for your open lot

When we buy a new home, we assume that we will automatically have access to fresh running water, electricity and sewer systems. Equally, we expect easy access to our property from the main highway. However, an empty lot may not have had utilities in the past, and putting the infrastructure in place to provide them could prove to be costly and complex.

If your lot is a little off the beaten track, you may have to think about creating clear access to your custom-built home. This can prove tricky if your lot is land-locked, and you may have to enter into negotiations with neighbors to see if you can arrange access via a private road that goes through their land, known as an easement. The advice of a land consultant or real estate agent is always helpful when it comes to these negotiations.

Book in a comprehensive survey and environmental tests

You would be a fool to purchase a property without a home inspection. However, when it comes to buying an empty lot, it would be a huge mistake to skip the survey or environmental testing.

  • A surveyor can identify the boundaries of the land, ensuring that no neighboring properties have encroached onto space that would be rightfully yours.
  • Environmental tests check the soil for contamination, such as from oil or gas, as well as identifying if the land is at risk from regular flooding. Both of these could compromise on your ability to build on the land, which may also put a construction loan in jeopardy.

Obtaining permits to build on your land

When it comes to buying land and building your own home, you will encounter the need for a lot of permits. From permits for building and burning to drilling wells and installing a septic tank, you will need a permit!

Construction permits help to protect the land and ensure that building codes are adhered to, which is crucial as building codes mean that your new home is solid, secure and more importantly, safe!

Before you go ahead and agree to buy an empty lot, be prepared to undergo some extra steps along the way.


Buying an empty lot, so that you can construct your dream home doesn’t need to be a minefield. We strongly recommend that you seek the advice of professionals at Ag Land Consultants, INC throughout the process to ensure that your new home is your best investment yet.