Tips on Selecting a House Site

Tips on Selecting a House Site

Three major physical factors contribute to your enjoyment of your farm – your farm location, your driveway placement, and your house site. They’re interdependent, governed by economics, practicality and aesthetics. Get these right, and you’ll be living an idyllic life, with quiet, privacy, and safety. Mess it up, and you may find yourself dealing with noise, inconvenience, foul smells and dust. To be sure, there are always elements you can’t control, but by recognizing them, and addressing them, before that first shovel-full of dirt is turned, you’ll increase your enjoyment, and minimize frustrations.

One of the first things you need to be aware of is the fact that a rural home needs a bit more land around it than a comparably sized home in town. That’s because rural homes typically have a well, to provide water, and a septic system, to provide waste disposal. In more highly developed areas, these services are provided through a public water supply, and a municipal sewage system. In most rural areas though, each residence has it’s own water and septic infrastructure, and these take up space. To ensure adequate room for these elements, most jurisdictions require a minimum lot size – two acres is common.

You probably have a pretty good idea of what you want in a home – how many bedrooms, how many stories, with or without a basement – but if you have exact house plans picked out before you have your house site established, you may want to think again. Fitting your home to the existing landscape is a lot easier than altering the surroundings to fit your home.

You may want to develop a house plan that takes advantage of the view and privacy, while minimizing your interactions with the less desirable factors that most likely exist.

Just at there may be multiple potential driveway locations, there may be multiple house sites as well. but more likely, you’ll run into a constraining factor in there somewhere. Generally speaking, you’ll most likely want to be as far from the road as possible, so you don’t have to worry so much about your kids or pets and the traffic and close enough that you won’t break the bank paying for the driveway.

Add to all that, your house site has to conform to certain standards based on slope and soil type. You’ll often hear the phrase “perc test”, referring to an assessment of a home site’s stability and drainage. Results of a perc test will impact your exact house site, as well as your septic system location. These guys explain it all pretty well.

Here’s a list of prerequisites for most year-round properties, based on local building codes, and/or lender requirements. You’ll ultimately be the one responsible for where these things go (since you’re paying for them), so it just makes sense to have these concepts and systems clear in your mind as you select a home site.

Approved house plans


Septic system


Electrical service


Other things you need to consider when selecting a house site.


What other buildings do you plan to build, and what are their requirements? Will they need power and water? Will they need to be within convenient walking distance? Or do you want them away from the house?


Attached or unattached?

Animal housing

This will need access for feed and hay deliveries

Machine shop

If you’ll be doing any equipment repairs, you’ll want one of these, but not too close to the house.

Garden shed

– Though it’s not essential, it’s nice to have driveway access for your garden shed.

Are there other houses or lots on the farm? Will they affect your enjoyment of your home? And what about your neighbors? Siting your home away from property lines can help insulate you from your bawling calves, target practice, or dirt bike racing. Leaving room for trees to screen the sights and sounds can help as well.

Are you planning on installing a pool someday? A ball field?

A few things were important to me specifically, since we have a large family. I wanted the horse barn, the garden, the kids’ play area and the riding ring all close to the house so I could easily monitor my kids’ activities. I also wanted a full 360° view of our farm, and I especially wanted to be able to see any vehicles that come onto the farm, so that impacted the driveway placement, as well as the house placement. And all of these influenced our eventual house design.

Having an idea of your immediate requirements, as well as your future wants and needs will help you start to really narrow in on the ideal house site for your farm, and your family. Again, this is time consuming for certain, but it doesn’t cost anything, and it will potentially save you thousands of dollars if you get it right first thing.

Happy flagging!

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