At the moment there are more 370 listings for vacant lots (under $500K) in the LA Metro area, over the 12 months a total of 192 were sold. There is never a shortage of vacant lots in our city, and it is soooooo tempting for buyers to feel like they could buy a lot and build a house resulting in a cost savings to buying an existing house. And those hill side lots with views! AND they are also frequently inexpensive. The "build your own" fantasies all come to a rather abrupt ending the moment you open your mouth speak to an architect or builder. Before I go on, I’ll say that there are some flat lots that are on or very near city services (water, sewer, electric); these lots can make a nice candidate for a new build if you have the patience and stamina.
In short, here the big issues with building on vacant lots:
1 - Utilities - how far are they from property, does the city have to extend to your location (this is time and cost consuming)
2 - Is the lot at least 5000sf - this is the min requirement for LA
3 - If the property is hill side with a slope - a slope analysis will be needed. The more slope, it drastically decreases the size of the house you can build.
4 - Foundation costs go way up when there is a slope.
5 - Hillside permitting can easily take 12 months to get through the city
6 - There are several studies that will need to take place that can impact the costs and feasibility: soils reports, geology reports, land survey, slope analysis, just to start with. You’ll be best served by hiring a land use consultant (or us of course) to help you along the way.
Pun totally intended here: the road to building on a LA vacant lot is rocky, long and expensive. But if you are up for it, you can own a really unique home suited to your tastes. But, don’t expect the final price tag to be a bargain.
I decided to write about the topic this week after I read this article in the LA Times. I wanted to share it with you. It is a story with a happy ending and discusses the difficult challenges and benefits to building on a vacant lot. This one is only 2900SF, very narrow on a 33% slope grade!!