Building on a New Site

Baker Fred "Gene", Skinner, Patricia  |  1/3/2007 8:59:53 AM

One of your options following storms is to abandon the site where your home was and build at a different location. Moving away from your neighborhood introduces more changes during a time when you’ve had your life turned upside down. However fearful you may find the prospect of leaving familiar surroundings, moving now is probably easier than moving later.

There are advantages to building on a brand-new site. For one thing, you don’t have to remove an old, damaged building before you can begin. Also, you’ll have a lot more freedom to lay out the building exactly the way you want if you can free yourself from existing utility patterns and room floor plans. You also may find there’s a place you can build that is closer to work, schools and other things you need.

When you’re starting with a new house and a new location, spend some time thinking about the design. There's plenty of guidance here for designing a durable, energy-efficient home that meets your needs and complies with the street, neighborhood and community you’ll be moving into. Visit the Design channel of this Web site for ideas and details.

If you’ve decided to build a new home but haven’t decided where you want to live, you may want to spend some time thinking about the future. Think about the environment that you want to live in 5-10 years from now. Think about your work, schools, health care and churches. This will take effort at a time when the needs of today and tomorrow are so pressing. To aid the process, see the separate article on finding out about places you may want to live.

When you’ve found a place to build, here are a few things to consider:

  • Learn what is required in the building codes. In Louisiana all home construction must meet the requirements of the International Residential Building Code.
  • Get your plans together; know what you want to build. Your house plans must meet the building code requirements. See Getting a Building Permit in Laws, Licenses and Permits.
  • If you are participating in the Road Home Program you must use licensed, insured contractors for the work that will be reimbursed through the program.

Find a contractor who is proven. Talk to people for whom the contractor has built houses. Visit homes he is building and those he has finished building; learn the quality of his work and how timely and dependable the contractor is and whether he pays his bills. More information on contracting can be found in The Construction Process section of the Getting Started channel.

Look into your financing options. There are many programs that may help you -- some are for first-time home owners; others are for building in rural areas; and some are for lower-income residents. Many realtors and lenders are aware of these programs and can guide you in your choices. You may also want to search the Web for other options.

If you decide to buy an existing house you will need to determine the condition of the house. Most lenders now require inspections by professionals in that field. They also require a termite inspection. Items that are of real importance in an existing house are the condition of the heating and cooling system and the plumbing and electrical systems. You want to be sure it is structurally sound (what is the condition of the roof? is there decay at any point on the structure?) and whether the house is going to be expensive to maintain. Will there be high levels of maintenance? Are the utility costs reasonable?

Remember that relocation is a chance for a new beginning. By taking the time to consider all your options before you make the move, you will more likely make decisions that you will be happy with many years from now.

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