By Natalie Belovic

What will your home call home?

How on earth do you decide on the right urban lot for your new home in Ottawa? You know, the one that hasn’t even been built yet?

It’s exciting. But it’s not simple. There are many things to consider. But don’t look for cut-and-dry answers ‒ at least, not at first.

Here are some points to ponder:

  • If you are at the beginning of your journey and don’t know what your house will be, should you have an idea of the shape and size of your new home, and then find a lot to fit it, or should you find the ideal lot first and have your house designed for the site?
  • Do you want to live on a quiet, out-of-the-way street, or do you think you’d be happier in the middle of the hustle-and-bustle, with walking distance to everything?
  • If you have children, or plan on having them in the future, do you know what school district you would prefer? (This might take some word-of-mouth research.)
  • Do you want a neighbourhood that is young, fresh, new, with young families? Or will you be more comfortable in an established, mature residential area?

Those are items on the “like/don’t-like” list. The next list is technical, legal, and requires substantial knowledge, but it contains some of the things you will need to take seriously.

  • What are the zoning regulations? Is it possible that a high-rise, a highway, a new development or a shopping centre might spring up right next door to you some day?
  • Where exactly can you build your house? How close to the property line? How close to the road? Where can the driveway go?
  • What are the easement allowances for electrical and telephone poles?
  • What about high-speed Internet and other considerations in regard to technology ‒ not just now, but in the future?
  • Are there historic or environmental issues you should know about?
  • How much will you pay for your land? Experts tell you not to skimp on this purchase and to get the best you possibly can.

 The first steps to take in this momentous decision of buying the space where your home will live is to hire professionals from the get-go. You will need a good real-estate professional ‒ not just any old one, but one who knows all the ins and outs of residential land purchase, and someone who has solid experience to back it up.

For a more in-depth look at what’s involved in a new building lot (various regulations, primary approvals and permits required), please see the Custom and Infill Homes section of this issue (with Gerhard Linse).