If you haven’t yet located your lot or land, springtime is a great time to review your top choices. So pull on your rubber boots and take an inspection tour of the land you’re considering. Bring a copy of the most recent survey map with you, and make sure you understand the boundary markers. If you’re looking at a large parcel take a compass and a long tape measure to be able to translate the map markings to the area you’re walking through. Here are some factors that make springtime land review the optimal time.
Wetlands, perennial streams, vernal pools, all become evident in many areas with those notorious spring showers. You’ll find out pretty quickly where the land may have wetlands, where it may have flooding, and just how big that dry creek bed last fall will become with some precipitation. Some states have special environmental requirements for land with bodies of water, wetlands or vernal pools. In Maine, for example, land needs to be monitored by an environmental ranger in the springtime to determine the size of springtime “vernal” pools or ponds, which are home to small fairy shrimp and other protected wildlife.
When the brush and undergrowth is flattened down after a winter season, it’ll be easier to get a feel for the terrain. If you don’t have a topographical survey map available for the property, you’ll need to walk the boundaries and get a sense of the features through measuring where the setbacks may affect the placement of your home. If there’s a hillside or rapid change in elevations, you may want to consider a walkout basement. You can also get a sense of what special clearing, grading, culvert work and other factors that can be essential in picking the right piece of land. Taking a thorough walk of the land can also identify areas that could become trouble spots, like rock ledge that would need blasting, or low areas that might need extra fill.
Views and Exposures
With the leaves off of the trees or just beginning to bud out, you’ll be able to get a sense of your wintertime sunlight, possible views that might be exposed with selective cutting, and trees that may need to be harvested at the end of their lifetimes. If you visit the property on a breezy day you can get a feel for how the wind and prevailing breezes might be taken advantage of in reference to decks, porches, breezeways and snow removal. You’ll also get a good look at any neighbors you might be close to—remember their homes will be part of your view as well.
The more familiar you are with a piece of property, the easier you’ll find it is to build a home that maximizes the positives and minimizes any negatives.