Building a Home on Bare Property vs in a Developed Subdivision: Which is Best for You?
Building a Home on Bare Property vs in a Developed Subdivision: Which is Best for You?


You’ve done a lot of research, saved images of your favorite home exteriors, picked out paint colors for your master bedroom, and even decided on including a special cubby for your dog in the laundry room. You know what you want your forever home to look like. But do you know where you’re putting it? 

Finding the right location for your new, custom home comes with a lot of variables. You want to make sure the land you choose fits your budget, your vision, and your lifestyle. The two basic choices you have are to build in a developed subdivision or to build on a vacant, undeveloped piece of land. Here, we go over what developed vs undeveloped land is and how your cost to build on one may differ from the other. 

What is Developed Land?

Developed land is land that is already equipped with access to sewer, water, electricity, and roads. The land has been potentially tested for integrity and the lot has been leveled out to make way for construction. 

This goes for subdivisions also. Subdivisions are pieces of land that already have access to these necessary amenities and have clearly defined lots to build homes on. If a subdivision seems more your style, keep reading for a better understanding of the pros and possible cons of building your dream home in a subdivision. 

Pros of Building a Home on Developed Land

You’ll have easy access to utilities 

On developed land, your lot will have easy access to hook into nearby water, possibly gas, electricity, phone & cable. This saves you a lot of cash compared to the cost of extending utility lines to an undeveloped piece of land. Before you start building your home in a developed subdivision, the developer has this already taken care of. 

An HOA may lead to more amenities 

Many subdivisions have a homeowners association (HOA) that makes and enforces rules that can do things like: restrict certain additions like fences, sheds, or landscape or even restrict what colors and finishes your home’s exterior can have. This keeps the neighborhood clean, cohesive, coordinated, and well kept. 

Some subdivisions with an HOA have more amenities like pools, club houses, entryway landscaping, street lighting, playgrounds, tennis courts, or common use spaces. These are paid for and maintained by HOA fees and members and can be a positive addition to your life. 

Closer to schools, grocery stores, and gas 

Most residential areas develop because they are close to the essentials: grocery stores, gas stations, and schools. Compared to undeveloped land, you will likely be closer to these if you build your home in a subdivision. 

Your total build time could be shorter 

Because the land development phase is taken care of in advance, you can start building right away. This can drastically cut down on the time it takes to move into your new home. 

Potential Cons of Building a Home on Developed Land

Sometimes you can’t choose your own builder

When the developer of the subdivision is also the builder, you are typically locked in to using that builder. Some are open to all builders, though. Be sure you know what builder (s) can build homes in that particular area before you commit to a lot in a subdivision.

HOA fees can be expensive

HOA fees help with upkeep of common areas and landscaping of the subvision. Sometimes these monthly or annual fees can be expensive. Before committing to a subdivision with an HOA, get a solid understanding of what the HOA fees are so you can add that into your budget. These fees can average $200-$400 per month, and can be much more in luxury communities. 

Strict building restrictions 

In subdivisions, developers often put restrictions on what your home can and cannot look like. 


You’ll face things like:

  • What percentage of your home has to be brick or stone
  • What percentage of your home can be siding, if any, and the type of siding. 
  • What color scheme your exterior has to be
  • How large or small the house has to be in living square footage vs. number of stories
  • What color trim the windows can have
  • What side of your home your windows can be on
  • Possible side load garage doors
  • Type of concrete driveway
  • How wide your driveway can be
  • What you’re allowed to put in your backyard 
  • Types of exterior lighting you’re allowed to have
  • Type of mailbox you’re allowed to have
  • The possible requirement to put in additional sidewalks and connecting walks

Setting restrictions like these keep neighborhoods looking uniform and can also look really impressive. But if you’re wanting a fully custom home, you may find it challenging to build in a subdivision. 


What is Undeveloped, Bare Property?

Bare land that is undeveloped is just bare open land or land covered in trees. It doesn’t come with water and electricity hookups in close vicinity. It likely doesn’t have easy access to where you want to place your home to get back to the road. Undeveloped land is usually going to be much larger than a plat within a subdivision, making it a more private option. What about the costs associated with building a home on bare land? Let’s talk about it. 

Pros of Building Your Forever Home on Undeveloped Land

Freedom to build a completely custom home

It’s your land and no one else’s. Because of this, you have the freedom to design your home anyway you’d like. Don’t like brick? No problem. Are you looking for a modern, upscale vibe? Go for it. In fact, modern and stylish is what we’re best at! 

You can choose your builder 

Since you’re the landowner, you have the opportunity to seek out and hire your own home builder. This means you can take the time to find the builder that you are most comfortable with and the one that can build within your budget. 

At Modern Structure, we’re dedicated to designing your forever home; and we work to build it exactly how you envision it. We’re focused on building the quality home you deserve! 

Plenty of space

Your piece of land is likely to be a lot larger than any lot within a subdivision. So you’ll have more room to spread out and you won’t be boxed in by neighboring homes. This will also help you broaden your options on layout and style of your future home. 

More Privacy

No neighbors or busy roads means more privacy and a quieter, calmer atmosphere. 

More flexibility to do what you want with your land 

When you build on your own land, a homeowners association can’t tell you how to use your land. You’re free to build detached structures such as a large garage, workshop or pool house without any boundaries. Add a large outdoor entertaining area, outdoor basketball court or add a fountain in your front yard. It’s all up to you. 

Cons and Potential Extra Costs of Building a Home on Undeveloped Land

You need access to roads

Easy access to roads might be nonexistent, depending on where your land is located. Driveways to those roads won’t exist until you build them, and this can be expensive. 


Getting building permits can take more time

No matter where you build your home, you need permits. Getting a building permit for undeveloped land could take longer, since the land needs to be evaluated for building structures, the land needs to be graded, the soil needs to be tested for a possible need for a septic system, the plot must be laid out, and variances may be needed.


This may seem like a long list of to-dos, but when you build with an experienced home builder like us, these things will be taken care of for you. It pays to have a builder on your side that knows the area and the regulations of the local government. We are licensed and registered in Vanderburgh & all surrounding counties. 


Your land must be properly zoned before building

In the Evansville, Indiana area, your land must be zoned properly before you can build a residential home on it. If your land is already zoned residential or agricultural, you’re all set. If your land isn’t properly zoned, we can help evaluate your land to find out if it’s possible to rezone it.


Utilities might not be readily available to hook into

Utilities like electric, gas, and water might be nearby, or not. Extending existing lines is where a lot of your extra costs come into play. To get power to your new home, it will likely require a transformer drop. For access to water, a water tap fee will be required along with possible excavation work to gain access. And, if there is no sewer access, you will need to install a septic system tested and sized per county and state requirements.


While each of these requires an additional cost, putting an exact dollar amount to it isn’t easy until we know where your land is located, and what utilities might be nearby. We’d be happy to help you evaluate your piece of land. Just give us a call – We offer consultation services as well! 

Take distance to amenities into consideration 

Privacy and peace is a huge advantage to building on large, undeveloped land. However, if close proximity to gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, and schools is a priority for you, you’ll need to consider how close those amenities are to your home site. 


An Experienced Home Builder Can Help You Choose the Best Piece of Land for Your New Home Build 

Choosing the best site to build your home on really comes down to your personal preferences and your budget. If you value being close to nearby restaurants and you’d prefer less grass to mow, a subdivision could be right for you. If you’re looking for privacy, space to spread out, and a fully custom home, building on a large piece of undeveloped land is probably best for you. When it comes to your budget, let Modern Structure help you decide what is possible. We can’t wait to design and build your dream home.


For a free building consultation, or to learn more about our Modern, stylish homes, visit our website


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