Buying a lot to build your own home has its pros and cons. Ask Axess Law when you need a lawyer for a home purchase or have questions about Ontario real estate law. We help you realize your dream of building a home of your own.
4 Ways to Build Your Dream Home
Residential lots and bare land are good choices for experienced home buyers who know how to navigate hiring and managing home design and building contractors.
If you’re new to home construction, but up for the challenge, you can:
- Buy floor plans online and hire an experienced general contractor to build your new home on a lot of your choice.
- Do some work yourself and hire subcontractors (subs) to assist you.
- Buy a lot from a new home subdivision developer and have them construct your home.
- Buy a new home from a builder in Ontario and design your own dream home.
Axess Law reviews new build agreements of purchase and sale and offers to purchase for residential lot buyers. Our Toronto area and Ottawa mortgage lawyers advise you if your contract is legally sound, because you wouldn’t want to lose your deposit if finance falls through.
Cost of Building vs. Buying
Home contractors agree building a house can be cheaper than buying. You save on real estate commissions and the markup sellers put on homes to make a profit. Axess Law’s mortgage lawyers can seal the deal when you refinance your current home to make a downpayment on buying a lot.
If paying contractors is an issue, your lender can give you construction advances — a form of mortgage advanced in stages to pay contractors and subs. Once the home is complete, your advances are converted into a traditional mortgage, with terms you select.
Writing your financing arrangements into the agreement of purchase and sale can prevent downstream headaches.
What to Look When Buying Lots
Location, location, location.The right lot can make your new home far more profitable and enjoyable. Axess Law advises to look for these features to get a prime property location.
- Residential Zoning — Avoid mixed commercial or industrial zoning if what you want is peace of mind from on-street customer parking, commercial traffic and shoppers or tourists. Zoning applications and permission for construction variances are time consuming and may require you to hire professionals to prepare property surveys or engineering documents. Unless you’re buying a commercial building, steer clear.
- Multi-family Properties — Apartment complexes that materialize after you buy can rob you of desirable sight lines and increase vehicle traffic. You could wind up living on a busy transit route or contending with high renter turnover.
- Heritage or Historic Districts — Arts and crafts bungalows, farmhouses or multi-storey brownstones could be a sign your neighbourhood has historic or heritage designation. You may not be able to knock down a fixer upper to build a new home on the lot you choose or be limited to period design styles.
- Restrictive Convenants — New subdivisions can have restrictive covenants that dictate what kind of home you can construct or what colour you can paint it. Ask your developer or general contractor if lots they show you are in a restrictive covenant community.
- Safe Spaces — Work nights or have children? Underlit streets, bushes that obscure your view or desolate spaces with abandoned buildings and empty alleyways may not be the best for you. Before you buy, check with realtors or police for local crime stats.
- Challenging Geography — Watch for steep or rocky embankments, leaning trees or streams that could compromise lot stability and suitability. Underlying issues like a high water table, unstable trees or a floodwater zone designation may affect mortgages, home insurance or building permits. Ravine or tree clearance approvals can be required in Toronto.
- Property Rights — Neighbourly fences and garages could be on or over your property line. A property survey from a local land registry office can show who owns what in a property line dispute. Axess Law refers you to trusted legal partners if legal action is needed.
Applying for Building Permits in Ontario
You’ve bought the lot, picked a design you like and planned with the general contractor how to excavate and grade your site. Before you start, make your project legal with a municipal building permit. Your contractor can apply or assist you to file the paperwork.
Your permit will state how long you have to begin construction (12 months in Toronto). The permit is usually valid as long as you are actively working on your home.
Permits can be revoked and fines levied if you start a building or renovation project without a permit or take too long to build. Axess Law can refer you to qualified new home construction lawyers if your project hits a building snag.
Why You Need a Lawyer
Real estate purchases can be subject to conditions like mortgage financing, environmental assessments or variance applications to change the zoning or lot use. Municipal easements or a lien on a home or property could block or delay your purchase.
Axess Law lawyers search the title for a construction lien and easements. We have cheap real estate lawyers in Toronto area and Ottawa who can transfer lots from seller to buyer by registering the title of property in your name. We arrange for land transfer taxes and HST to be paid if they are owed. If the lot is an estate sale, your lawyer communicates with the estate trustee.
We prepare land registry discharge of mortgage documents. Our mortgage lawyers answer questions like can you get a mortgage for land or do you lose your deposit if financing falls through?
Professional Ontario Real Estate Lawyers
Axess Law’s real estate lawyer flat fees keep buying vacant land affordable. You pay only $999.99 and up to buy real estate or $799.99 and up to sell property anywhere in Ontario.
Use our online booking form to make appointments in just minutes. We have open law offices near you — call ahead, toll-free to 1-877-402-4277 or 1-647-479-0118 in Greater Toronto Area, to find a convenient time.
We have land transfer lawyers near you who can go online anywhere in Ontario or meet in person, day or evening. Our law offices are open on weekends.