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Building A Lake Home - What You Need to Know

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Created on Monday, December 05, 2016
Updated on Monday, February 26, 2018
by Land Century

Nothing beats the serenity and beauty of lakefront home. The views are out of this world, and there’s something peaceful about the sound and sight of water. But if you plan on building a lake home from the ground up, you should know that you’ve got a challenging road ahead of you. There’s a lot that could and may go wrong when building near water, and you’ll need to take extra precautions when planning your build.

Here’s what you need to know about building a lakefront house:

Make Sure the Property is Suitable for Building

When searching for land to build your lake home, it’s important to make sure that the property is suitable for building. Even if the description says it’s a buildable lot, you want to do your due diligence and research the property first.

Some wetlands are protected, which means you won’t be able to build in certain areas – or not at all, depending on the size and location of the property. You’ll also need consider topography issues that may keep you from building where you want and any other obstacles you may face during the planning/building phase.

Also, consider where the septic tank will be installed – most lake homes have septics, not city sewer – and whether you’ll be connecting to city water.

Understand Local Laws

If local authorities govern and own the lake, you’ll want to check your local laws before building. In some areas, the local government may control all the land within 100 feet (or some other number of feet) from the lake. This means that if you build your home on government-controlled land, authorities may one day decide that they need that land, and they would be within their rights to knock your house down.

The last thing you want is to build a gorgeous lake home (which will cost you more than regular home to begin with) only to have it knocked down in the future. Learn more about the local laws and any potential legal complications you may face by building in your preferred spot.

Views are Key

Most people build lake homes with the intention of being able to enjoy great views from most of the rooms. Ideally, you want to place the master bedroom, kitchen, dining area and family rooms in locations that take advantage of the waterfront views.

But in order to do this, you need the right property, and you need to make sure that you can build in the right spot on the property to leverage those views. Sure, your property may be lakefront, but if the only spot that’s suitable for building is set back and far atop a hill, you may not get those gorgeous views you want.

An Experienced Builder is Essential

Building a lake home presents its own set of challenges, which means you’ll need to find an experienced home builder that knows what to expect and how to handle any issues that may arise. Ideally, you want to work with a builder that has built several lake homes, and has a portfolio of these properties that they can show you.

If you have friends or family with custom-built lake homes, they may be able to offer recommendations on reliable, professional and experienced builders.

Make Sure the Lake Suits Your Needs

Consider what you’ll be using the lake home for. Do you enjoy fishing? Maybe you prefer kayaking or want a lake that allows for waterskiing. Whatever your favorite activities are, make sure the lake can accommodate them. You won’t be able to water ski on a narrow, still lake. And not all lakes are good for fishing either. Keep these things in mind as you browse for properties.

Secure Financing Early On

Building a home is complicated enough, but financing the build is even more complicated. If you need to finance both the land and the build, you’ll want to seek approval (or pre-approval) as early on as possible. In fact, this should be one of your first steps before you even start looking at properties.

When you have your finances in order, it makes the rest of the build less stressful. The last thing you want is to scramble to secure a loan after you’ve found the perfect property. You may not get approved in time to snatch up the land before someone else does.

Expect the Unexpected

You’ve found an excellent builder, and you’ve gotten an estimate for your home. That estimate probably won’t be anywhere near what you’ll actually spend. The old saying “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong” comes to mind here. Things will come up along the way, especially with a waterfront property. Plan to spend more, and go as far as including unexpected extras into your budget.

Assume Nothing and Communicate Everything

Mistakes can and do happen when building a home – there’s no way around that. But you can minimize these mishaps by making your expectations crystal clear. Be as specific as possible when communicating your ideas and desires. Go as far as drawing a picture or showing a similar design if necessary.

If you assume the contractors will know what you want, you’re sadly mistaken. Explain everything in as much detail as possible, and you can avoid costly mistakes in the long run; mistakes that drag on the building process even longer.

Kindness Goes a Long Way

There’s a lot of work involved when building a home, and you’ll be dealing with a number of contractors along the way. Whether it’s the cement crew, the framers, the electricians or the painters, be kind to anyone who is putting their time and energy into building your home.

And if you’re kind to the crew working on your home, they’re far more likely to do a great job and put their best foot forward.

Building a lake home is exciting, but it’s important to take the right steps to ensure your build goes as smoothly as possible. From making sure you find the right piece of buildable land to checking local laws and finding an experienced builder, planning will go a long way in saving you time and money when building your new home.
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