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Land Improvements 101 For New Homes

At JC Jackson Homes, we relish the opportunity to help you build on your land. We understand that the process of making land improvements can feel overwhelming at times, especially if you’ve never done it before. By sharing our knowledge and experience through our OYL Land Improvement Guide, we hope to promote a sense of excitement, collaboration, and trust. 

A Guide To Build On Your Land

Building your dream home on your land is a significant undertaking, and we want to provide you with the knowledge and guidance to make informed decisions. Our Land Improvement Guide is a vital tool for educating you about the process of building a home on land

We believe that when you are well-informed, you are better equipped to actively participate in the planning and construction phases, ultimately ensuring a more satisfactory experience. Our comprehensive guide aims to demystify the complexities of land improvement. In this blog, we will discuss some of the most important parts of land improvement.

Buying Land

At JC Jackson Homes, we understand the importance of finding the perfect land for your new home, and we are dedicated to helping you make informed decisions and achieve your vision. 

Before you purchase land, remember that a lot goes into making it usable as a home site. In fact, land improvement costs will likely be a considerable chunk of your budget! (Land improvement pertains to things that need to be addressed before we build a home on your land.) Ready? Ok, let’s get started!

  • Location: Determine the location that best suits your needs. Consider proximity to amenities, schools, work, and lifestyle preferences. 
  • Start Looking: Search online listing platforms, contact local real estate agents, or reach out to property developers.
  • Visit In Person: Before making an offer, it’s crucial to see the property to assess topography, soil quality, drainage, and other factors that may impact construction. 
  • Make An Offer: If the land meets your requirements and you’ve done your due diligence, make an offer. Consult a real estate agent or attorney to draft a purchase agreement.
  • Closing: This involves signing legal documents, transferring funds, and taking ownership of the land. 

Our experienced team can assist in finding suitable land, visiting properties, and connecting you to reliable professionals such as surveyors and civil engineers. 


The purpose of surveying is to ensure accurate placement and boundaries of the property. A surveyor will measure and map the land, identifying factors that may affect construction. This information is crucial for determining the best siting for the house, ensuring compliance with local zoning regulations, and avoiding encroachments or disputes with neighboring properties. 

Terms to know:

  • Plot Plan: Also known as a site plan. A detailed diagram that shows the placement of the home. Includes property boundaries, septic and water wells, utility lines, existing structures, and any other relevant features on the site. 
  • Boundary Survey: Establishes the legal boundaries and property lines of a piece of land.
  • Topographic Survey: Maps the physical features of a land, including elevation, contours, and natural and man-made features.
  • Construction Staking: Conducted during the construction process to stake out the precise location and alignment of structures and infrastructure.
  • As-Built Survey: Conducted after the completion of a construction project to document and verify the actual dimensions, locations, and features of the built structures.
  • Floodplain Survey: Determines the extent and elevation of floodplain areas, providing information for flood insurance purposes and ensuring compliance with local regulations.

Site Engineering

Site engineering involves the planning, design, and development of a residential site to ensure its functionality, efficiency, and compliance with local regulations. 

It includes several key components:

  • Site Analysis: Studying the property to assess its topography, soil conditions, drainage patterns, access points, and other relevant factors. 
  • Grading and Drainage: Ensures water management. Includes designing slopes, swales, and drainage systems to prevent flooding and erosion while providing adequate runoff.
  • Utility Planning: Planning and coordinating the placement of utilities such as water, sewer, electricity, and gas lines. Ensures efficient and safe infrastructure.
  • Road and Access Design: Designing roads, driveways, and access points. Involves determining layout, width, and alignment to ensure ease of navigation and traffic flow.
  • Stormwater Management: Includes designing systems such as detention ponds or rainwater harvesting techniques to minimize erosion and pollution.
  • Environmental Considerations: May involve preserving vegetation, protecting sensitive habitats, or incorporating sustainable design practices.
  • Compliance and Permitting: Ensuring compliance with local zoning regulations, building codes, and permits. Preparing documentation and plans required for approvals and permits.

Land Preparation

Preparing land for construction involves several key steps: 

  • Clearing & grubbing: Removes vegetation, plants, trees, and debris. Ensures a clean and level area for construction. Grubbing involves the removal of roots and stump remnants.
  • Rough grading: Prepares site for proper drainage and leveling. Involves reshaping the land to achieve the desired slope and elevation. 
  • Installing a building pad: A building pad is a level area where the house will be constructed. It must be properly compacted and leveled to ensure stability and longevity.
  • Import/export of suitable fill dirt: Fill dirt is typically used to raise low areas or to level the construction site. Suitable fill dirt is clean, compactable, and free from contaminants.

Soil & Erosion Control

Soil and erosion control is of utmost importance for several reasons:

  • Sediment Control: Construction activities can disturb the soil, exposing it to erosion. Erosion control techniques help to minimize sediment discharge and preserve water quality.
  • Preservation of Topsoil: Topsoil supports plant growth. During construction, topsoil is often disturbed. Erosion control measures help preserve topsoil, allowing it to be used for revegetation and landscaping after construction.
  • Slope Stability: Construction activities can alter the natural slope of the land, making it vulnerable to erosion and instability. Retaining walls, slope stabilization measures and vegetative cover help reduce the risk of landslides or soil slippage.
  • Preservation of Natural Resources: Soil is a valuable natural resource. By implementing erosion control measures, construction sites minimize soil loss, protect natural habitats, and contribute to the overall conservation of ecosystems.

Onsite Septic System

An onsite septic system, also known as a septic tank, is a system used to manage and treat wastewater that is not connected to a municipal sewer system. It consists of three components:

  • Septic Tank: The septic tank is an underground container made of concrete, fiberglass, or other materials. 
  • Drainfield: The drainfield, also called a leach field or absorption field, is a network of perforated pipes or trenches placed in the soil. The effluent from the septic tank flows into the drainfield, where it is treated and filtered. 
  • Soil: The soil plays a critical role in the treatment process. It acts as a biological filter, providing oxygen and beneficial bacteria that break down and remove impurities from the effluent. The soil also helps to disperse and distribute the treated wastewater.

Onsite Water Well

An onsite water well supplies fresh water directly from an underground source on the property. A well is typically drilled deep into the ground to access an aquifer, a natural underground reservoir of water. The water from the well is then pumped into the home.

The system includes:

  • Well Casing: A large, durable pipe inserted into the drilled well hole. It prevents the well from collapsing while protecting the water source from surface contaminants.
  • Screen: Usually attached to the bottom of the well casing. Allows water to enter the wellbore while filtering out debris and sediment. Helps maintain the quality of the water.
  • Submersible Pump: Responsible for extracting water from the well. Placed below the water level inside the well casing. Powered by electricity, designed to push water up to the surface.
  • Pump Control System: Regulates pump operation. Includes a switch that turns the pump on or off based on demand. May include tanks that maintain consistent water pressure.
  • Water Storage: May be installed in conjunction with the well system. Serves as a reservoir to hold water for times of high demand or when the well is not pumping. 

An onsite water well provides a self-sufficient and sustainable water supply. However, it also comes with responsibilities, such as regular maintenance and water quality testing, to ensure the well continues to provide safe and clean water for the household.

Electrical Service Connection

  • Electrical Service Planning: Before construction, the homeowner/builder contacts the local utility company to initiate the process of connecting to the power grid. The utility determines electrical service based on the size and electrical needs of the home.
  • Service Drop Installation: The utility company installs a service drop, a line that connects the power lines on the street to the home’s electrical panel. Usually an overhead or underground line running from the utility pole or transformer to the home’s meter.
  • Inspection and Utility Connection: Once the home’s wiring is complete, a certified electrical inspector ensures it meets local building codes and safety standards. If it passes inspection, the utility company inspects the meter base and connects the home to the power grid.
  • Power Activation: The homeowner or builder requests the utility company activate the power supply. The utility company will usually provide a meter reading and start billing the homeowner for electricity usage.

Permits & Fees

  • Building Permits: Official documents issued by local government or building authorities that grant permission to construct a new building. Permits are required to ensure that construction activities comply with building codes, zoning regulations, safety standards, and other relevant guidelines.
  • Municipal Water & Sewer Fees: Charges imposed by the local municipality or water authority for connecting your home to the public water and sewer systems. The specific amount can vary based on several factors, including the size of the home, the estimated water usage, and the local rate structure.

Builder’s Risk and Flood Insurance

Builder’s risk insurance and flood insurance are both important for protecting the interests of homeowners and builders during the construction process. 

  • Builder’s Risk Insurance: Property insurance that provides coverage for damage or loss to a building or structure under construction. It is typically purchased by the builder or the property owner during the construction phase. Builder’s risk insurance is often required by banks or lenders before providing funding for the construction project. It helps mitigate the financial risks associated with construction, providing safeguards for the investment.
  • Flood Insurance: Insurance that provides coverage specifically for losses caused by flooding. Depending on the location, flood insurance may be required/recommended. Standard homeowners’ insurance policies typically do not cover flood damage. If a property is located in a flood-prone area, it is crucial to have flood insurance to ensure adequate protection. In certain areas, flood insurance may be mandated by lenders to obtain a mortgage. Local regulations or building codes may require flood insurance.

Contact JC Jackson For More Info On Building A Home On Your Land!

At JC Jackson Homes, we look forward to engaging with you, answering your questions, addressing your concerns, and guiding you through the intricacies of land improvement. We aim to ensure that you feel empowered and confident throughout the process, knowing that you have a reliable

resource and a dedicated team. Together, we can transform your vision into reality and create a home that reflects your unique style and preferences, while maximizing the potential of your land. If you have any questions about “build on your land”, connect with us today!


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