If you’ve decided that it’s finally time to build a custom home for your family in the Omaha metro area, one of the first decisions you have to make is where to build. Besides the obvious considerations—safety, school districts, distance to amenities, commuting issues—you should think about a few other subtle issues when choosing a lot.
This blog article is part of Castle Brook Builders' Design and Build Process Series.
Orient Your Home and Save
On most lots, the home faces the street. When evaluating pieces of property, look at how your home would be oriented on the land. Which way your home faces can play a surprisingly large role in your home’s comfort and energy use. Since Omaha’s weather includes hot summers and cold winters, it can be difficult to lay out a home that is naturally comfortable year round. Orienting your home so that the front faces east allows you to take advantage of the morning sun to warm the main rooms of your home (and keep it out of rear bedrooms). This also allows you to enjoy the sun in the afternoons and evenings, especially if you have a deck or outdoor living space in your backyard.
On the other hand, an orientation that allows significant southern exposure can help reduce your heating bills in the cooler months. Windows that face south, whether numerous front windows or large rear picture windows, will let the most natural sunlight into your home throughout the day. Hard surfaces will absorb and retain heat, capturing as much daylight warmth as possible and helping your home naturally stay warmer at night. During the summer, the sun is at a much higher angle in the sky, which means that you will still get a good amount of light but less direct heat. A good roof design with adequate overhangs can help keep the sun from boosting your cooling costs.
Conversely, with a north-facing home, you won’t get as much damaging sun exposure to the front of your home, which will reduce the wear and tear on your streetside paint or siding. Orienting your outdoor living space towards the south, however, can result in a patio that remains uncomfortably hot through the sticky summer evenings.
Promote Good Energy
Some cultures and religions also believe the orientation of your home is spiritually significant. Hindu philosophy, for example, teaches that houses facing north draw in positive energy, which creates healthy vibrations and ensures prosperity for those who live there. In Chinese Feng Shui, the birthdate of the head of the household determines what would be a favorable direction for the home to face.
In addition to generally dictating the orientation of your home, which side of the street your lot is on can also matter when it comes to your commute. Lots on a busy, divided road can mean it takes a long time to turn left out of your driveway—causing headaches and delays when you’re running late. Sometimes, roads divide districts. Each side might go to a different school, which could be an issue if you have young kids who are likely to make neighborhood friends. Property taxes, utility services, and eligibility for certain tax breaks, builder credits, and more can also change from one side of a road to another.
A Home with a View
A lot with a great view is always a hot property, but what about a lot that doesn’t have any view yet at all? If you’re purchasing land that appears to border on undeveloped areas, do your research to find out why. Is that area an easement for maintenance access to utilities, a public park or nature preserve, or government property? These things are unlikely to change. If the land is private, however, you run the risk of future development bringing you a nuisance for a neighbor. See if the property assessor, recorder, or other public records office has any information about future developments, restrictions on developments, or rights of neighboring properties.
Know Your Risks
When you purchase your property, make sure you ask your selling agent and do your own research about any potential hazards or risks. Natural hazards like being in a flood plain or frequent tornado area can increase your insurance rates (and chances of disaster). Research crime rates in both your target area and the surrounding areas.
Take a look at Castle Brook custom home builders’ featured subdivisions to explore some exciting new developments in the Omaha, Nebraska, area, and browse our gallery of homes to see some of our suggested models. We’ll help you find the perfect spot for your dream home and be your partner every step of the way through the homebuilding process. Contact us to arrange a home tour or schedule a consultation about how to get started on your own custom Omaha home.