What You Need to Know Before You Clear Land to Build Your Home

What You Need to Know Before You Clear Land to Build Your Home

A custom home provides an ample number of benefits; you can select the exact area to build, design the plans and then steadily watch the vision in your head become a reality. Being able to select a precise location and design the house plan provides the opportunity to maximize privacy and customize your utilities, too.

There are many aspects of the building process that are easier when building custom homes, but one of the unique additional tasks is clearing land to build a house. Enough land needs to be cleared for your yard, house, driveway, well and septic system. There are several steps that are necessary, so keep the below tips in mind when preparing land to be cleared for custom home development.

Bucket of the excavator on installation of the basis of electrocolumns. - how to clear land to build a house

Clearing Land to Build a House

Check with Zoning and Building Departments

The last thing you’ll want to happen is to clear land and then be told it was illegal due to violating some zoning law unbeknownst to you. This would result in a messy fight with your town and plenty of unnecessary expenses. To avoid this, consult early on with your town’s departments of building and zoning to ensure the exact space you’re clearing is within bounds of the town ordinance or other laws.

Get the Right Equipment for the Job

Land clearing varies project by project, with the size of the land plot being different for most people. Before investing in equipment for the job, make a note of specific property aspects, like a certain tree or area, that you’d like to keep intact. Then make sure any logger, forester or other contractor understands and is respectful of your wishes. With size specifications and the homeowner’s desires clearly communicated, it will be much easier to identify the proper equipment for the specific job at hand.

Well and Septic

One of the biggest issues we came across when cleari9ng land to build our home was finding water. We were clearing the land right next to a pond so we though for sure digging a well would not be an issue. But it was and cost us several thousand dollars and delayed building the house. Don’t assume anything when building your home! Get a knowledgeable professional you trust to make sure you can get your well and septic set up with how you want to position your home on the land. This will impact clearing your land so it’s important to do this early in the game.

Mark the Territory

Using bright tape or paint, mark the house footprint and locations for the driveway, well, etc., in addition to the property boundaries. This will be very helpful for the clearing crew, in addition to lowering the chances of a mistake. With your excavator or contractor, be sure to clarify several times which trees need to remain preserved. Ideally, only cut down the trees that interfere with the house’s construction. If saving trees is particularly important to you, consider hiring an arborist or a contractor that specializes in excavation.

Other Important Questions on How to Clear Land for Building a House

Once the territory is marked and the right individuals are hired, it’s important to ask very specific questions relevant to the building process. For one, it’s important to know specifically where the well will be dug. Also, it’s important to test for water on the property; if anything is wrong, it will be easier to take care of prior to construction, instead of after it. Other questions to ask yourself and anyone involved in overseeing the house’s construction include:

  • Is the area prone to flooding or other natural disasters? If so, what precautions can we make?
  • Is a public water system on the lot? If so, is there is a water connection fee? Are all water hookups ready to go?
  • Is access to gas, telephone, electric, cable, trash pick-up available? If not, what is the cost for each?
  • Does the homeowners association have any control over the lot?
  • When was the lot last surveyed? Try to get a copy of the most recent survey as well, in addition to getting your own survey done.
  • What building permits are required to build?

When acknowledging the tips above, in addition to asking the aforementioned questions during the building process, owners of custom homes will be able to enjoy their property without the stress of violating laws or not having access to basic services.


  1. Thank you for the help. My wife and I found a piece of land that we would like build on. I am glad that you shared the list of questions to address first. We will have to meet with the builder to address the area and how the foundation would last. Thanks again.

  2. I’m glad for the advice about making sure the zoning laws in your area allow you to clear the land. My husband and I bought a lot, and we want to have the trees cleared so we can build a house there. We’ll probably consult a professional about the zoning laws so we’re sure we can do it legally, and so we have someone who can do the clearing for us.

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