What comes first, the lot or the home?

One of our favorite things to do as architects is help our clients pick fantastic lots. It’s not something we get to do often, unfortunately. Most of the time our clients come to us right after closing, thinking that they only need to get the architect involved when they are ready to design the home.

The problem is that the lot – in so many ways – really dictates what kind of home you can have. This is true even in communities without design guidelines and restrictions governing certain lot types. You may be looking at an acre of land in rural Alabama (where yes you can do any style or size of home you want), but still the land dictates how the house lies. A good architect will take into consideration everything from the way the land rolls, the views you want framed in your windows, the soil conditions underneath to the sun’s path when designing the home.

Thankfully, we have two clients we are looking at lots with right now. Both want to buy a lot and design and build a home on a street safe for their kids to grow up and bike around. They both want lots of families around and parks nearby. They both are weighing how much of their budget to allocate to the lot versus having a bigger home.

There’s no magic formula when it comes to figuring out this puzzle. However, we tend to agree with most real estate agents that getting a great lot and then designing an economical home that you can expand or later upgrade finishes inside it is the best of both worlds.

Plus, it allows my husband to indulge in one of his favorite pastimes… looking at lots and imagining the killer homes he could design on them.