Jun 30, 2016

How to Buy Land – 7 Things to Look For When Choosing Property For Your Build

Whether you’re an individual building your home, or a real estate developer building a commercial project, the very first step is to find some land to build it on! At Westmark, we’ve seen a lot of the hiccups that can come up when buying land. We’d like to give you some tips and tricks that we share with our clients on how to buy land that works for your custom home, multi-family property, or commercial development.


1. Are you looking for a rural or city lot?

Would you prefer to be closer to amenities, walking & biking distance to businesses? Or would you prefer a quieter, more private lot away from the hustle & bustle of downtown?

2. Are views important to you? 

Commercial builders will likely be a lot less concerned with views, however, for anyone building a dream home, the views might be critical. Consider views from all 360 degrees, and how the property will or won’t allow you to take advantage of them.

3. What is the topography of the lot? 

The ideal lot is a flat lot with entirely usable land. If a lot you purchase has slopes, you might need to design and build accordingly (or expect to spend more on blasting, retaining walls, etc.). Is the lot treed or cleared – how much tree removal will need to be done? What is the ground & soil like? If there are waterways on the property, what is the setback required, and is watercourse management required? Will your planned build meet 100-year flood requirements? Is there a right of way for utilities on the property or nearby?

4. What do the neighbouring properties look like? 

Consider zoning of neighbouring properties, their design style, and how the structures & topography of their property might affect yours. Will they be quiet/noisy? Will your project “fit” in the neighbourhood?

5. What utilities/services are available?

Are there municipal hookups for sewer and water available? If not, has the septic and well already been handled? What is the well water quality & flow like? If there are no services yet set up on the lot, consider the cost and feasibility of having your own well drilled, and what your options and restrictions are for septic fields & tanks.

6. What is the property currently zoned? 

You might need to apply for rezoning if the current zoning doesn’t match your project type. You will apply for rezoning through the City or Regional District in which you are building. In most cases, there will be a public hearing, and the zoning will need to be approved by council. Your rezoning application may be rejected if it does not meet the local requirements or Official Community Plan. You can learn more about rezoning in the City of Nanaimo here. A qualified builder will be able to help you through this process – call or email us if you have questions.

7. Will an Archaeological Impact Assessment be required? 

Some property areas have been designated as protected sites, and an impact assessment will need to be completed by a professional archaeologist. The BC Archaeology Branch has a request form which you can fill out online here, to find out if your property will require an assessment. A qualified builder can also help notify you of sites in the region that are known protected regions, and will let you know if this is something you need to be aware of!

Once you’ve found a piece of land that is perfect for you, make sure to check out these helpful tips on the construction process, including building green and choosing a builder!


These tips should get you started on the right path towards finding the ideal property. A good realtor or builder can also make this process much easier for you, as they will likely already know what inventory is on the market that suits your needs. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a builder before you are “ready to build” – in fact, working with a builder from concept to completion can make your entire project a lot smoother, and less stressful!

We’d be happy to talk to you about your BC property development concerns and questions! Contact us today!