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Building a new home, what do you think of location?

13 years ago

Hi everyone!

I'm in a process of building a new home and picking out a lot to build on. What do you guys think of this lot:

1. Looking at the lot:


2. Standing on would be driveway with house to our back:


3. Another view on driveway with house to our backs:



* Wood lot with Ravine

* Cul de Sac

* In between two homes that are $50k-$100k more

* Nice view of pond with Fountain


* Able to see a main road.(2 lanes both direction at 35 MPH)

* Possible traffic noises until house across the street are complete

* No privacy by the light, people are able to see the house

What does everyone think? Am I just being too analytical? Are most of you turn off by being able to see a main rd and people able to view your house from distance? Or does the pluses outweigh the minuses?


Comments (30)

  • booboo60
    13 years ago


    I think it depends on many things......the size of your family, your lifestyle, are you a young person just starting out? Are you just about to retire? Lots of kids? An empty nester? All these things would "weigh in" on the decision. It is obviously a city lot and so the "busy-ness" of the city life would be something you would embrace. If you are looking for a quiet, slow paced, environment to build I would say this is not it.

  • lot67
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Hi twotogo-

    Thanks for the quick feedback. Currently we don't have any kids, both young(late 20's). We're planning to have kids in the future. The main rd is busy during rush hours and during the evening/weekends it's as not congested. There are no commercial buildings, all residential homes.

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  • kangell_gw
    13 years ago

    Hi lot67,

    I think a lot depends on what your other options are within your price range. I live in the DC metro area so I understand the type of trade-offs you're looking at.

    Your pros and cons list is very good and I recommend you continue to work off it. A couple of suggestions...I don't think a view of the fountain/pond is that significant. More importantly I think you've underaccounted for sound. Road noise is huge. Trust me. A house across the street isn't going to significantly change it.

  • lot67
    Original Author
    13 years ago


    Thanks for your input. If it were up to me, I would talk to the builder and see if they could put up some evergreen trees by the pond. That way it can gives us some privacy and maybe more homes in that cul de sac will be sold. I just feel bad for the people that will build across from this lot (hence the main rd will be in their backyard).

    I spoke to a current neighbor and he said you can't here any noise inside the house, only when your outside.

  • meldy_nva
    13 years ago

    I would agree with neighbor that you likely won't hear the traffic while inside the house. But do you plan to spend ALL your at-home time inside?

    I can assure you that kids will spend a good bit of time outside, and that highway is closer than I would be comfortable with... also, there is no barrier to prevent a toddler from trotting right on over to it.

    This appears to be in one of those neighborhoods which have very big houses on very small lots. And that's okay if you are comfortable with it. I don't lean that way, so I can't make an unbiased comment.

    For your pro/con list: How far (distance/time) to local stores? How easy or difficult is it to access your local street from the thorofare? In my area, it is common to wait for 5 minutes to make a right turn and at least 10 minutes to make a left, to get onto thorofare; with rush-hour traffic doubling those waits (and no, it wasn't that bad 20 years ago). There apparently are no sidewalks; will you be comfortable having the kids tricycle and bike on the street? Do remember that it's rare to have traffic actually obey the speed limit. Have you driven the route from job to house/and back during the hours you will actually be driving? How far away is the fire department and hospital -- and if either is within a mile, remember that you will constantly hear sirens.

    I agree with kangel; the pond/fountain are not really "pro" (located poorly to use for a view; and to see it is to see the traffic) and actually should be a "con" until the kids are old enough for sense -- or at least able to swim.

    Only you can decide if the advantages of the site are sufficiently worthwhile to outweigh any disadvantages.

  • teach2007
    13 years ago

    We built on a cul-de-sac that is very secluded... which I like. BUT sometimes I wish I could sit on the porch and watch cars go by. It seems you would have the best of both...

  • learn_as_i_go
    13 years ago

    I don't think that living near a 35 MPH road is such a problem, however I think your bigger problem is that the lot is near an intersection. Seems to me that the risk of hearing horns blaring, tires screeching, etc. rise exponentially is these areas esp. during morning/afternoon rush hour.

  • flgargoyle
    13 years ago

    I would look into the growth potential for the area. My BIL built a house on the western outskirts of Richmond VA. When they built, it was the 'frontier'. Within 5 years, they were in the middle of malls. car lots, restaurants, etc. The growth was unbelievable. That 35 mph road might be a highway quicker than you think, or you might be in a quiet area, without a lot of change going on. It seems awful close to the intersection.

  • jimandanne_mi
    13 years ago

    When we were looking for a lot to build on in a small city, we only could find ones that were on a corner or a main street, had huge power line towers in view in the back, were near enough to a RR track to hear the train, were close enough to expressways to hear the constant hum of traffic (I wanted to garden and knew this would drive me nuts!), etc. Most would have been 3-10 miles from the downtown. We were owner-builders, and any decent lots had already been bought by builders.

    The deciding factor to NOT buy any of these lots was when it occurred to me that once we built a house, it would be in competition with all of the other already built houses whenever we got ready to sell it. In other words, whatever negatives we saw regarding the empty lot would be negatives for our house that most other houses in other neighborhoods would not have. We didn't want to be in the position of having difficulty selling a house due to possible unseen circumstances (the present downturn?).

    We ended up buying a beautiful lot in a wonderful neighborhood (on a cul de sac) and love our house. Because we were the last to build in our sub, our house was built with more expensive dollars (costs keep going up for materials and transporting them), so we will not net as much for our house as our neighbors will when we ultimately sell.

    We are 17 miles from the downtown we wanted to be near, and as we get older sometimes wish we were closer to all of the activities we drive to, and are a little too far away to be part of that community, which we regret. However, we have 3 grandchildren living with us, and this is a wonderfully safe neighborhood with great schools for them. It's also peaceful and beautiful in ways that the other possibilities would not quite have been.

    When I was growing up, we lived close to an intersection that looks similar to yours. And I've stayed at b&bs near intersections. My main memory of these is sirens as fire trucks went through, guys revving their motorcycles as they took off from the light, and noisy trucks. Houses are better built now usually, with windows that will keep out a lot of the noise, but I still prefer a more secluded place to live where I can go outside and relax.


  • lot67
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Sorry for the caps!

    meldy_nva :How far (distance/time) to local stores? IT TAKES ABOUT 10 MINS

    How easy or difficult is it to access your local street from the thorofare? ONLY 2 MINS FROM A MAIN FREEWAY. WITH IN 10-15 MINS OF MALLS, SHOPS AND RESTAURANT. LOCATION IS GOOD.

    There apparently are no sidewalks; will you be comfortable having the kids tricycle and bike on the street? THERE WILL BE SIDEWALKS ONCE HOMES ARE BUILT. THERE'S EVEN SIDEWALKS ON THE MAIN RD.

    I'm hoping the noise will drown down once homes are built in front of us. It won't be completely quiet, but it'll help. I think my biggest concern is privacy. People that drive by the intersection are able to see our houses.

    Our subdivision is the last area of new built homes. There are no space to add commercial buildings. And you're right, these lot size are about 0.3 acre and houses built are around 3000 sqft.

    I wonder if this will affect resale value?

  • chisue
    13 years ago

    What else is available? I don't see anything special about it except that the ravine gives you a little more separation from the houses behind you. I REALLY don't like the proximity to the intersection and would expect the highway to get wider (and noisier) as time goes on. How hard is it to get out of this street and into traffic?

    *IF* people buy and build across the street it won't reduce your exposure to noise. It may reduce the visual impact. Those homes will be worth less because of their location, backing to the highway.

    I'd get tired of hearing that fountain in the retention pond. (Is there a high water table? Why do they need the pond? Maybe an attempt to disguise the road noise.)

  • lot67
    Original Author
    13 years ago


    The reason we like the lot is because the house will face south and get a good balance of the sun and it's a cul de sac. This street ends at a cul de sac(2nd image) and the intersection is where our community enter/exists.

    In my opinion, the pond is waste of money. I've talked to homeowners and you wouldn't belive the amount of money they spend from hoa fees to maintain/repair it.
    I'm hoping they will fill it up and put trees or if they decided to keep the pond, to put up more evergreen trees.

  • meldy_nva
    13 years ago

    Go to whatever your area's equivalent is to the county courthouse and study the 5-year, 10-year, and 20-year development/road plans.

    Do NOT depend upon or expect roads to remain small, even if so stated on all the plans. If for no other reason, than that there is no guarantee re a change to commercial use -- study the 10-year plan carefully as it is most likely to be followed. But remember that those plans are guidelines and not guarantees. Houses and subdivisions can be torn down quicker than you think. My old home is in an area that was rural, and within a 10 year period went to R1A (one residence per acre, no commercial), to R7A (yeh, townhouses), to R10/LC (light commercial), and is presently under yards of cement because of an access ramp to a "loop" (10-lane highway) which was not even on the county plans until after the area was "planned" for light commercial. The ramps and highways displaced subdivisions, light commercial properties, several small malls, and numerous "forever" homes. This likely will not happen to you, but take it for a warning that even when you are in a subdivision, you don't have full control over your surroundings.

    Okay, here are some additional thoughts --

    Even if houses are built across the way, they won't block much traffic noise. If houses are not built, then you are in direct line for the present decibels AND that is a nice open space available for improving/widening the intersection. The fountain/catchment pond means that no house will ever be built in that site; you will always be in a direct line to the intersection.

    You mentioned HOA charge re fountain maintenance... that cost isn't going to lessen and may go up due to insurance considerations for having an "attractive nuisance". Catchment ponds never get filled up... routed into sewers so a road can over, yes! but otherwise it's there for a reason and that reason won't permit infill.

    The sidewalks are in the plus column for citification. But check for fire hydrants... there is a slight break on the cost of insurance if you are close to one. And it's a major minus if no hydrants are provided.

    You say it is within 15 minutes of shopping, but how long/far for getting to work. One drives to work every day, while shopping is occasional.

    It's a fact of life that ALL lots face south. However, it's also a fact that some lots have better [or worse] views to the south or are easier to design to take advantage of the south side. It's also a fact that if one buys tract, one is stuck with what one gets, and semi-custom isn't much better because of peer pressure.

  • foolyap
    13 years ago

    I've talked to homeowners and you wouldn't belive the amount of money they spend from hoa fees to maintain/repair it.

    Personally, the presence of a HOA would kill it for me, irrespective of any other aspects of the lot.

    I know that this is one of those quasi-religious issues, where people tend to be either for enthusiastically for them or rabidly against them, and I've no intention of starting a flame-war about HOAs. Just pointing out that if this is your first home, and so you don't really know what a HOA means, you may want to consider very carefully what the restrictions placed on the lot by this HOA mean to you, as the potential home owner.

    Some HOAs have very minimal, sane restrictions that are intended (I guess) to prevent a crack-house from appearing their midst. Others are fanatically restrictive about virtually every aspect of your home and yard's exterior appearance. You may find yourself being unable to paint the house a color you like, or being unable to have a clothesline in your backyard, being required to pave your driveway with cobblestones rather than asphalt, etc etc.

    Note that if this HOA is very restrictive and is so in a way that meshes with your own tastes, it may not be an issue to you. Just best to know in advance. Don't take the word of the realtor/builder; get a copy of the HOA's rules and restrictions and go over them very carefully. If you don't understand some clause, ask for clarification. If the answers still seem vague, beware. IMHO, of course.


  • chisue
    13 years ago

    We searched a long time for a lot where our house could face *north* -- so the back yard and main living areas in the private rear of the house could enjoy the southern exposure.

    I'm not fond of HOA's. I'd think that whatever you build on this lot will have to be similar to existing construction. Might you be ahead to buy an existing house if you like this development?

    Is this development nearly built out? Any new developments to be built in the area will be stiff competition for existing houses.

  • lot67
    Original Author
    13 years ago


    There are only 35 homes built so far. This subdivision is slated for 150 homes. The lot we're looking at is Phase 2, while Phase 3 lots won't be available until Phase 1 and 2 are completely sold.

    If we're building, we planned on living for atleast 7 years. We love the neighborhood, because the location is great. Easy access to the freeway and work(only 5 miles away from work)

    I'm just trying to convince myself that it's ok to have our house facing a main rd, even though we're not right on it. I think my main concern is the privacy at the intersection. People turning and able to see the house. I had bad experiences when I was a kid, and maybe I'm a little paranoid. My wife is ok with it and doesn't care at all.


    I read through HOA's and it's not bad and nothing we can't handle. I've seen other HOA communities and there worse!


    Thank you for the great feedback and your persistence to help(in fact everyone here). Since filling the pond won't likely to happen, how about a proposal to put more evergreen trees around the pond? This will limit the view of the intersection.

  • lsst
    13 years ago

    Have you seen the view from the lot in the winter when all the leaves are off the trees?
    We have trees surrounding our property and in the summer it is very private and quiet.
    In the winter, once the leaves fall, we can see about 20 houses in a subdivision behind us. Also, we hear more road noise as the leaves buffer the noise.

  • meldy_nva
    13 years ago

    lot67 ~ check with the HOA bylaws regarding adding trees or shrubbery; IF they permit additional planting (and some HOA's won't/don't), it actually takes 30-50' depth of closely planted evergreens to provide an effective sound buffer; however, even a single staggered row would be better than nothing in providing a visual barrier. Don't be surprised if you run into a difficulty with adding/changing anything around the area; cost, labor, upkeep and the original overall plans guide the HOA committees.

    You need more info re the catchment basin... in some areas tree planting within a particular circumference is restricted because the trunks/roots interfere with drainage direction and rate of flow. This is more likely to be county or state regulated, check with the local building department.

    As has already been said, carefully study the HOA documents to be sure you are in full agreement with all the provisions. As with any other contract, remember that what is said is not as important as what is written, and the written word supercedes any verbal commitment. That means that the salesman may tell you it's okay to plant Bradford pears along the street but if the HOA rules forbid planting flowering trees, the rules win.

  • chisue
    13 years ago

    Oh, I see our cautions are in vain; The Mrs. wants to build on this lot! LOL

    I would be leary of building in an uncompleted development, especially in this economy. It may take years to complete. You may NOT live there seven years; stuff happens. As I said, if your home is on the market against new construction, you will lose money. This is not a *choice* lot, so it should be cheap. Do you know what the other homeowners on the street paid for their lots?

    How solvent is the builder/developer? What's the foreclosure situation in your area? What's the employment situation?

    Oops! I've gotten pretty far afield from you original question. Moms tend to be just FULL of advice. Sorry.

  • chompskyd
    13 years ago

    I'm just trying to convince myself that it's ok to have our house facing a main rd, even though we're not right on it. I think my main concern is the privacy at the intersection. People turning and able to see the house. I had bad experiences when I was a kid, and maybe I'm a little paranoid. My wife is ok with it and doesn't care at all.

    A few years ago, I bought a house near a main road. The noise didn't bother me when we looked at the house, or when we first moved in. But, after a few months, it started driving me crazy. I could hear it inside the house, so I spent a lot of time hanging out in the basement. Not good for the psyche. I like to garden, but could not even stand to go outside. It was a two-lane highway, with a 55mph speed limit, so a different situation that yours. The noise never bothered my husband, but I was losing my mind.

    I also didn't like living near the entrance of the neighborhood. We'd take a walk, and people would comment on something we were doing in our yard. At one point, people even left a not-very-nice note in the mailbox concerning our yard. Of course, for every mean person, there were many nice people, but I never got over feeling like I was under a microscope.

    We ended up moving after 2 years, and living there 2 years was pushing it. I guess my advice in retrospect is to listen to your gut. Don't try to talk yourself into a lot that isn't right for you. But, if you really like the place, don't talk yourself out of it either.

    Good luck, whatever you decide...

  • lot67
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    I don't mind the questions. I'm grateful of your help! At 1st, I liked this lot. But somehow convinced myself that this lot was just "ok" due to the visibility of main rd, noise and intersection. But the wife, felt emotionally attached to it and want to make a bid.
    Our goal is to live there as long as possible and raise our kids in that area. It's a nice subdivisions and great neighbors(so far). Not to mention good school district and location.

    Currently, there are no foreclose homes. Everyone in that subdivision is doing fine. Most of them are young professionals (my friend being one of them). But you never know in this state of economy.

    I've seen home prices as low as $380k and highest at $600k. If I were to build the house, we're looking around $450k, with the house next to us at $538k and $550k. So we'll be sitting in the middle with houses $75k-$100k more.

    I'm sorry to hear you had a bad experiences and glad that you're better off now. How many yards were you from the main rd? The main rd in front of us will be 5 lanes at 35mph.

    Our lot sits about 200-250 feet from the main rd. Even though we're able to see the intersection, we have to go around other homes to get to it(that streets ends in a cul-de-sac).

    I think the noise will be ok, because once homes are built in front of us, the noise should reduce. I think I'll have to reach out to HOA about staggering evergreen trees around the pond to put a visual barrier of intersection and prevent people looking in from the road.

  • Happyladi
    13 years ago

    My house is in a similar situation as yours. The back of my house is on an alley (common in Dallas suburbs) and the houses right behind my house front a street like the one across from the lot you are considering.

    Luckily, the way the fences are on the houses on the other side of the alley we can't see the busy street. We can hear it when we are in the back yard but I never notice it unless I think about it.

  • chompskyd
    13 years ago

    How many yards were you from the main rd?

    We were probably 200-250 yards as well. There was one house between us and the road, and trees.

    Screening the view seems to help some people psychologically (out of sight, out of mind). Masking the sound (with a fountain, perhaps) can help as well. But, trees, houses, etc, won't help the noise much. The leaves on the trees buffer high frequency noises, but much of traffic noise is low frequency, so won't be affected -- it travels right across the ground. To affect the noise significantly you'd need a significant berm, or a concrete barrier.

    I think some people are just more sensitive to noise than others. I'm a sensitive one (and, incidentally, my dad is sensitive to noise as well). If you aren't, you'll probably be fine. I just didn't realize how much of a problem it was for me until I was in the situation.

  • lot67
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Was the front or back of your house facing the main rd?
    I'll take more pictures of the lots in front of us. Our street is slated for 5 homes in future.

    I think some noise will be ok. I don't want it to be complete silence. I know there's some people that can't stand living without noise (almost living in the wilderness).


    So your house sat like this:from back of your house, alley,another house, and main rd?

  • chisue
    13 years ago

    What is the prevailing wind? If you are downwind the traffic noise can be awful; upwind, not so bad.

    I have to say this again because you have said the opposite: Any homes built across from this lot will NOT appreciably lower the highway noise. They will provide some visual relief. Those houses will also be cheaper, a price negative for your street address. Might they even be townhomes instead of single family?

    If you haven't done so, I'd advise you to talk to a realtor who has been in business a long time and who knows the whole area. It won't cost anything and you could learn some interesting facts. Are there no established neighborhoods that appeal to you? Remember that taxes will soar as an area adds housing that attracts young families with children who need schools.

    Did you learn what other lots on this street sold for and what *interior* lots sold for? This one, with its location negatives, should be much less than interior lots.

    It comes back to what is called an 'irremedial defect' for a property. The proximity to the highway is one. You don't like it. A future buyer will have the same reaction. Homes with irremedial defects must be priced lower to sell.

    I'm not saying, "Don't buy it." I'm just saying be sure you can live with the highway and be sure you are not overpaying for either the lot or the construction. A developer can lower the lot price and build in more profit on the other end.

  • chompskyd
    13 years ago

    Was the front or back of your house facing the main rd?

    The side of our house faced the highway. Then, to get into the neighborhood, you turned off of the highway onto a subdivision road (low speed limit) that went in front of our house.

    If you wanted to get more scientific about the noise, you could buy a decibel meter, and measure the sound on your lot. (There are some fairly cheap decibel meters available.) Nerd that I am, I do that now.

  • rileysmom17
    13 years ago

    I think the lots across the street will be very undesirable and very hard to sell. Probably the houses built on them will be much lower in cost as others have mentioned. While you are checking the HOA be sure to get a very clear description of allowed fencing including front yard fencing and whether 360 degree perimeter fencing is even possible. You can't have your kids falling into the ravine, so unless you can include front yard in their play area you may not be left with much. But no way would I want this lot, with kids planned, without a physical fence enclosing their entire play area.

    Go by at night and listen to is probably travling above speed limit and you may hear a noticeable Doppler effect. A Doppler effect is much more intrusive than a continuous background traffic white noise. Dopper effect can also reflect off of other structures, just in case you were thinking you could keep your front windows closed. Could you knock on the door of a potential future neighbor and ask to hang out inside for a few minutes?

    I would not want to put a 500K home on this lot regardless of municipality and prevailing property values.

  • lot67
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Hi Everyone,

    Thank you all your time and feedbacks. We are leaning to take this lot, because the house we want to build, can fit in this lot or couple others(which we didn;t like as much because it doesn't have a wooded backyard or it's a corner lot). Would some of you prefer corner lots over the lot I'm thinking about?

    I think my only fear is the privacy. People that drive by intersection can view the front of our house from 200 feet through the pond. Then again, who actually drives and focus on a building for more than 5 seconds?

    As long as I can convinced HOA that evergreen tree is a needed, I'll be happier with the lot because it'll create a visual barrier around the pond. Do you guys think I'm too worried and paranoid? Do people drive and just stare at a house and wonder who lives there and what they do etc? LOL

    The street is a local street, so at night it's quiet.

  • meldy_nva
    13 years ago

    LOL: "Do people drive and just stare at a house and wonder who lives there and what they do etc?"

    Yep. But not most people, just ones like me who have a tendency to wonder why someone would choose to live in a particular house in a particular area. I especially wonder about those folks who have no garage and 25 steep steps from sidewalk to door. I mean, how do they manage groceries during a snow storm? And yes, I also wonder about the ones who buy new houses that are on a highway. And, I've noticed that those houses so close to a highway ~~ never have people out in the yards. Let's face it, one does NOT have privacy when in view of all who pass by.

    re corner lot ~ depends entirely on the neighborhood and how the house is placed on the lot. You usually have fewer line neighbors in combination with a lot less private yard area. One also has twice as much "front" to keep attractive, which is good if you like it and a PIA if you don't.

    re unlikeable lots ~ depends on WHY they are unliked. Those in awkward areas are never going to get better, but those that simply look naked-ugly can often be improved with proper landscaping and time. Those which are missing something important to you are never going to suddenly have the missing ingredient, so you have to practice self-honesty about just how important trees, ridges, flat lawns, mountain views or whatever, is to you. But starting out on an unhappy footing is not a good beginning for anything.

  • sweet_tea
    13 years ago

    The lot is too close to the busy intersection and main road. In addition to the privacy and noise issues already discussed, think of this:

    1) Car exhaust/pollution. There is an intersection right there..and some cars will be waiting for the light. You will likely get more pollution due to this. Smelly and unhealthy.

    2) 35 MPH speed limit. Just because this is the posted speed limit, it doesn't mean that all cars obey the speed limit. In times when it is not congested, I bet some cars go 45-50 MPH..and some even faster.

    3) Burglars: I have seen some stats that says burglars often pick homes that are nearest the main road, because they can exit the subdivision quickly. Also they can monitor your work pattern easily.

    4) Pets: If you get a dog or cat, if that pet gets loose, it likely will make it to that main road and get hit by a car.

    5) Wrecks. You will hear some wrecks that occur at that intersection. These will occur. They don't sound pretty. At high speeds, the sound is horrible, especially at night and if there are any people screaming for help. I used to live on a main road and the wrecks were bad.

    6) Sirens: Because the lot of off the main road, you will hear every cop car/fire engine/ambulance that is passing by with siren on.

    7)Do you ever plan to open your windows? If so, you will hear traffic and might smell the exhaust.

    8) Resale for the house, that close to the road, will be lower. Lots of buyers would not even look at the home because it is so close to the road.

    9) Those few trees in the back hardly count as wooded. It is just a basic small lot (too close to the main road) with a few trees in the back.