Here are the eleven questions to ask yourself before choosing the land of your new home ...
Do not put the cart before the horse: first find the place before considering the style of the house you want to implement, because it is the nature of the terrain, its configuration and the administrative characteristics that will determine in large part the architecture of your house. Take your time, it's important.
1. What will be your lifestyle?
Keep in mind that your situation (in the countryside, in the heart of a small village, in the suburbs of a big city, on the mountainside or at the seaside) will affect your daily life. Communion with nature, you can enjoy during weekends or holidays ... but you can hate it when every morning, you have to take the road to get to work or accompany children to school. With the inexorable increase in fuel prices, the situation is an element to be taken into account.
Plan for the future. Start by worrying about the proximity of shops, the existence of public transportation, properly maintained road networks, the presence of nearby schools, etc. And, above all, beware of misplaced savings. According to experts, in less than 10 years, a peri-urban household pays the difference between the price of the land it bought and the land on the edge of the agglomeration that it found too expensive ... trend will only increase. (Source: Marc Wiel, urban planner cited in Sustainable Habitat, Edisud Editions.)
2. Housing estate or not?
The subdivision has its advantages: it offers guarantees in terms of viabilisation and constructibility. Your steps will be limited since the promoter is supposed to take care of everything. But this choice imposes certain constraints, if only the rules of the game of a life in society. You will be led to make your heritage live in accordance with the neighborhood and respecting the obligations dictated by the land use plan (POS) whose rules are unavoidable, not only on the architectural level (constructive principle, surface, cover, colors ...), but also on the immediate environment of your home (even your mailbox will have to be at the standards!).
Would buying an isolated lot therefore offer greater freedom? Undoubtedly, but this freedom is paid in time to investigate the history of the place and to collect various documents from the administrative services, starting with the certificate of urban planning. It is from this document that you can start to get a better idea of the house that you will be able to build.
3. Is the region at risk?
Mountain, riverside or seismic zone ... some places can be threatening at different times of the year. Rivers that suddenly turn into devastating torrents during thunderstorms are not uncommon in the mountains. The services of the Departmental Directorate of Equipment (DDE) establish plans for the prevention of foreseeable natural risks (PPR) delimiting dangerous zones, which are not necessarily prohibited from construction. But some specific provisions are needed and it is important to know them. Your project will have to comply with these different obligations.
4. What is the layout of the place?
Beware of narrow or crooked terrain and unusable recesses (but you will still pay!): There are charming grounds "not like the others" that prove impossible to occupy. Think also of construction machinery and trucks that will deliver building materials. They do not adapt well to steep terrain. It will move earth to form embankments, terraces, resulting in significant additional costs. The value of a lot is also a function of its length of facade. And in some cases, it is this facade that will determine the size of the house, especially if the town hall imposes an alignment compared to other houses. For the record, the COS (coefficient of land use) is the maximum surface on which your home can be built. If it is 0.25 and your land is 1000 m², you can build a house of up to 250 m² floor space.
5. What is the nature of the soil?
It should be known that the clay, retracts in case of drought and swells with moisture. The last decade has seen an increase in the number of houses cracked as a result of major heat waves.
Warned, we can build on this type of terrain with all the guarantees: the techniques are effective ... but expensive. Inspect houses in the neighborhood. If some have cracks, there may be a problem with the basement.
Another example: the granite guarantees a good foundation of the building, but you will have to give up the basement at the risk of exploding your budget. In addition, you may need to protect yourself with specific radon insulation, a gas rare but very present in some granitic areas where it tends to infiltrate homes.
6. Which basement?
Beware of surprises. An underground water table often poses sealing problems. Wet terrain requires the installation of a drainage system. The best solution is to have a basement test done before the purchase. An investment that will allow you, then, to choose the type of foundation best suited.
7. Have you visited the premises at different times?
Depending on the direction of the wind, the nuisance of an industrial activity, a highway or a railway does not reach you with the same intensity. Also think about the proximity of a "pleasure" aerodrome or a karting circuit. The kind of place that comes alive mainly during these beautiful summer Sundays we would like to enjoy in peace! On the other hand, a quiet area during the weekends can be unbearable during the week: incessant truck traffic, smelly smoke, proximity to a slaughterhouse, etc. If, after your installation, a polluting company is created, you will be entitled to claim an abnormal neighborhood disorder. But it will be difficult for you to admit the legitimacy of your complaints if you decide to settle near an industrial pigsty!
8. Did you ask the right questions at the town hall?
Is the public water system old, have the lead pipes been changed? Is the sewer system installed or will it be installed? Is city gas available? What are the construction projects (roads, airports, shopping centers ...) that can generate nuisances in the near future, and secondarily depreciate your future home? The PLU (Local Urban Plan) will inform you about the development projects planned by your municipality. You will learn for example that the quiet meadow that borders your land will soon be occupied by a zone of economic activity and the charming departmental winding near you should become a four-lane road very soon.
9. Have you thought about the neighborhood?
What were the old activities on the site: building on an old dump, on embankments or on a disused chemical site is never advisable. Moreover, if the basement is riddled with abandoned mine galleries, know that their filling is at your expense. The seller must in principle provide you with this type of information. His silence may cause the sale to be canceled at his expense. It is still necessary to prove that he knew. You will also obtain information from the general inspection of the careers of your department.
Do the older ones of your neighbors remember a historic flood in the past? Take the names of localities (toponyms) and streets, they are often linked to geological or geographical specificities. A street of the Poplars, a district of the Marais or a path of the Mine will teach you much on the nature of the surrounding grounds.
10. What is the best ground for geothermal energy?
If you want to install this system to heat your home, the thermal conductivity of your floor can play a role. Good conductivity will facilitate thermal exchanges between the collection network and the ground. But, on the other side of the coin, it will also make the interaction between air and soil faster. The relative temperature stability that is preferable in this type of installation is thus lost. The soils consist of fine granulometry elements, silt type, are better than the soils based on sand or rubble. On the other hand, the texture of the material surrounding the pipes is decisive. The ideal being a conglomerate predominantly clay or loam ensuring that this reported material completely adheres to the pipe.
11. Will you be able to connect to the networks?
Certainly, if your land is buildable, but do not forget to include in your budget the cost of these connections. You will get there for a relatively low price close to a public road (and other homes) but, if your land is landlocked, and therefore away from the road, the cost becomes much more substantial. If the terrain is sloping, additional work may be required: installing a pump to evacuate wastewater through the sewer system, for example. The management bodies (EDF-GDF, water services, France Telecom, etc.) draw up connection estimates.