Buying Land for Your Dream Custom Home

Planning to build your very own custom home? You have an exciting adventure ahead! There’s an important step that comes before thinking of all the bells & whistles you’d want in your new home: finding the perfect plot of land.

Finding land to build on can be an overwhelming experience if you’ve never bought land before. Knowing what you want, doing research, and aligning with the right team of professionals can make your endeavor a success.

A custom home built on your land is the ultimate luxury experience. You have the freedom to design and construct according to your preferences. With the right contractor and realtor by your side, new home construction can be a smooth ride. The first step is to find and buy the perfect plot of land for your custom home!

Tom Len Custom Homes is here with a few things to keep in mind when choosing where to build your dream home in Illinois’ North Shore suburbs

Factors To Consider Before Buying Land

You probably have many questions at this phase in your custom home journey: What should I consider before buying land? How do I decide which land to build on? What are the steps to selecting the best property?

Buying land to build a luxury custom home is a significant investment. This isn’t something we recommend going about on your own! Is ample natural lighting important to you? What about a finished basement, spacious backyard, or a beautiful view from your bedroom? How close would you like your home to be in proximity to other homes? These are all things to think about.

If you are selecting a location in the North Shore suburbs (such as Northbrook, Glenview, Northfield, or Glencoe) for your dream home, there are also many technical aspects to consider before making a purchase, like utilities and zoning. Fortunately, the TLCH team is here to guide you every step of the way! Read more about our process here.


A priority when choosing a piece of land is its proximity to amenities. You will need access to schools, shopping and recreation centers, and medical facilities. Let’s not forget about your favorite coffee shops! People also prefer living closer to main roads, highways, and airports. Existing facilities and a booming community make settling in the area easier, rather than choosing an isolated location.

Zoning and Regulations

Zoning laws can dictate what type of house you can build on the land. It will also help narrow down what area you want to build in and further specify your search for land. You will also need knowledge of the permits required to build on it and what they will cost. Thankfully with an expert like Tom Len on your team, you can leave these complications to us!

Infrastructure and Utilities

Does the land already have access to utilities like water, sewage, gas, electricity, and internet? If not, is setting up connections something that’s easily workable? It would also be wise to check out what development projects are ongoing or expected in the area. Some properties can only use well water, is that something you are okay with? When you work with a professional crew like TLCH, we’ll take care of all these details for you!

Land Characteristics

The topography of the land influences the design and construction of your house. For instance, if there are large rocks and trees, you may need to clean up the land before construction. Soil testing is also critical, as not all soil is stable for construction. If you’re planning to have an outdoor kitchen and pool for backyard enjoyment, it’s vital to make sure you have the right terrain and space to do so!

Environmental Factors

Some areas restrict development if they come under protected areas. These regulations may affect the design and construction of your home. Find out if the area is prone to natural hazards. Fortunately in the surrounding Chicago suburbs, we are not likely to experience major weather disasters like a tornado, but flooding can be an issue in some areas. Make sure to consult a professional land surveyor!

Architectural and Design Considerations

The land you choose should suit the design preferences you have for your home. Engage an architect to survey and see if the land aligns with your plans. Your ideal home should be a mix of your taste and the surrounding aesthetic of the North Shore suburbs. When designing, also consider the orientation of the house to maximize energy efficiency. Take advantage of the natural light, views, and ventilation.

Costs, Resale Value, and Market Trends

A survey will estimate the total cost of acquisition, design, and construction. Also, factor in the expenses required to prepare the land for building your home. Research the resale value of the property and the market value of the houses in the area. Of course the goal is for this to be your long-term home, but let’s say you want to move again when the kids go off to college, it’s important to look into resale value!

Local Community

You may also want to look into the demographics of the area. Does it align with your lifestyle, preferences, and long-term goals? If great schools, local parks, and excellent restaurants are important to you, these are all things you’ll want to research beforehand! Being close to family and friends always make transitions like this more manageable…like they say, it takes a village!

7 Steps for Selecting the Best Property for Building a Custom Home

When buying property, how do you determine which land is best for you? Buying land is an exciting and crucial step in the process of building your dream custom home. This is an opportunity to create a space that reflects your unique style, personality, and needs! However, it is essential to approach this decision with diligence and care.

It is not only a significant financial investment, but it also has a significant impact on the overall outcome of your home. Understanding the various factors to consider when purchasing land for your custom home is key to making an informed decision and creating the perfect home for you and your loved ones.

  1. Determine your budget: Before looking for a property, you need to figure out how much you can afford to spend on the land and construction of your custom home. This will help you narrow down your search to properties that meet your budget.
  2. Choose your location: Decide on the location where you want to build your custom home. Some factors to consider include proximity to schools, shopping centers, public transportation, and your workplace.
  3. Assess the property: Once you have identified a few potential properties, you need to assess them to ensure they are suitable for building your custom home. This involves checking the topography of the land, soil quality, drainage, and zoning regulations.
  4. Hire a surveyor: Hire a surveyor to conduct a survey of the property. The survey will help you understand the boundaries of the property, any easements, and any other factors that may affect the construction of your custom home.
  5. Check for utilities: Ensure that the property has access to utilities such as electricity, water, and sewage. If the property does not have access to these utilities, you may need to factor in the cost of installing them.
  6. Obtain necessary permits: Before purchasing the property, make sure you obtain the necessary permits to build your custom home. This may include zoning permits, building permits, and environmental permits.
  7. Partner with a home builder: Hire an experienced, trustworthy luxury home builder like Tom Len Custom Homes! Our team is happy to take most of these steps off your to-do list so you can focus on the fun part of designing your beautiful custom home.

Common red flags to watch out for…

When selecting a plot of land to build your custom home, watch for potential red flags. These can cause problems and challenges later on. Here are some common red flags to be aware of:

  1. Poor Soil Quality: Unstable soil can cause problems with the foundation. Expansive land with poor drainage also hampers construction.
    Environmental Restrictions: Properties in environmentally sensitive areas may limit construction and ruin your design plans.
  2. Easements and Encroachments: Check if the property has easements, rights-of-way, or encroachments.
    Zoning and Building Code Issues: The property must be zoned for residential use.
  3. Sloping or Uneven Terrain: Steep slopes or uneven terrain make construction complex. They may also ruin your design.
    Legal Title Issues: Title disputes, unresolved property ownership claims, or liens can complicate the purchase process. Settle all legal matters before you make the deal.
  4. Limited Access: Difficult access to the property can make construction and daily living inconvenient.
  5. Excessive Fill or Grading: Properties with significant fill or grading might have unstable foundations and drainage problems.
  6. Inconsistent Land Surveys: Discrepancies between property boundaries on surveys and legal documents can lead to disputes with neighbors.

Partner with the Best Builder in the North Shore for Your Luxury Custom Home!

Partner with TLCH, we’ll help you find the perfect plot of land for your custom home. Fun fact: We are more than a typical design and build firm, Tom Len is also a Realtor and has a Managing Broker’s license. That means he can take care of selecting the right land, purchasing the property for you, and applying for permits. Does it get any easier?

These two real estate credentials mean great convenience for our customers. Let us take the headache out of finding the best property to build on. We’re truly your one-stop luxury home resource! Do you need help financing or finding a property? We are extremely capable and ready to help you. Read more about our residential construction services here.

Sourcing land for your dream home may feel intimidating, but we’ve got you covered! If you’re looking for a team to work with, look no further than Tom Len Custom Homes. With decades of experience building luxury custom homes, we are the top choice for families in Illinois. Connect with our team today, and let’s get started on crafting the luxury home of your dreams.

Ready to start planning your custom home build?
Before designing the blueprints, you need to find the right property!
Contact the TLCH to get started on this exciting process: (847) 205-9200
Tom Len Custom Homes proudly serves the following areas in Chicago’s North Shore: Northfield, Glenview, Glencoe, Deerfield, Wilmette, Winnetka, Highland Park, and Riverwoods.
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