Land Evaluation

When you take the first step toward building your dream home, your journey typically begins with the search for the right piece of land. One common assumption that people make while searching is that they can build their dream home on any land, as long as it’s for sale as a lot. Unfortunately, this is not correct, and the wrong land purchase can end up causing quite a few problems.

Since 1947, Nelson’s Construction has been an icon throughout MN. While our company has built its reputation of excellence on custom-built homes and renovating existing homes, our land development services are critical to the success of your dream home.

There are many factors that can affect not only whether a lot is buildable, but whether the lot is the right choice for your particular homebuilding needs. We have had clients in the past come to us and say, “I have this beautiful lot, and I want you to build my dream home there.” Unfortunately, there are times when the lot they have chosen even though it was beautiful, they couldn’t put the exact house they wanted on the lot.

Obviously, we want to help you to avoid making the wrong land investment. The earlier you can bring us in on the process of finding your desired land, the better. We enjoy evaluating land and potential teardown opportunities so you can build your dream home. We can also provide sitework estimates based on the lot or teardown that we are evaluating.

A few of the areas we will look at…

Zoning Requirements

First, we can help you navigate the zoning requirements in the town you want to live in.  Some important considerations include limitations on how large the home can be or what the floor-area ratio can be.  There also are setback requirements that dictate how far your home needs to from the edge of your property line.


Checking out utility availability can also make a big difference later on, especially since some utility options can be more expensive than others in the long run. Depending on the location your water will come for city water or well water.  If your property requires a well, we can look at surrounding wells to find out the availability quantity and water

We can help determine the costs involved if your home will be connected to city sewer or will require a septic system.  Septic systems work great but typically cost much more than tying into city sewer.  

When it comes to wired utilities, we will evaluate electrical, cable and telephone lines coming into your home.  We can help determine if they can be underground or if they have to be overhead and the costs involved to connect to them.


The last thing anyone wants is a flooded basement or a muddy puddle in your yard as large as a pond.  This can become a major issue if land contours aren’t considered at your potential building site.

We will help ensure the topography of your land slopes away from where the house will be placed so rainwater can drain in the right direction.

We also will look at your soil’s water table and what the percolation rate is, which is how fast the soil can absorb water.  

We help evaluate the possibility of using a gravity footing drain or a sump pump to aid with drainage. Ideally, we want gravity fed drainage systems.

Estimating Building Costs & Sitework

Choosing the wrong plot of land can suddenly turn an affordable dream home into a money pit.  To avoid that from happening, we can help you estimate what sitework will cost on a particular lot.  For example, we will look at:

  • “How much will it cost to dig and backfill the house? 
  • Is there ledge that can affect your building cost? 
  • Is there a high water table?

Those are just a few of the things I look at. Sometimes if ledge is a concern, we may suggest raising the foundation slightly to avoid the blasting costs and rock removal. With that, we can bring in general fills to the landscape around the foundation.

For one of our recent clients, we helped the family save thousands of dollars on the purchase of their lot.  We knew upfront we would need to bring in extra fill to avoid blasting costs and we got those expenses subtracted from the purchase price of the lot.  

Estimating building costs isn’t an exact science, but turning to a properly experienced builder like Nelson’s Construction can make a huge difference.  We can give you hard numbers on what it will cost to build from the concrete up, but we can’t do that with building costs related to the land.  We don’t know exactly what we’ll find, until after we start digging. With land, those numbers can’t be fully set in stone. However, we can still provide fairly reliable estimates when it comes to the sitework budget. Most often, we are able to keep our clients within their budget range.

Building your dream home is always an exciting journey, but selecting the right land for that home is just as important. At Nelson's Construction, we understand the many details that must be in place to make the home building process a successful one. We’re committed to helping our customers navigate every decision with ease.

To learn more about what to look for and which questions to ask when looking at a property, CLICK NOW to download our free report, 7 Pitfalls to Avoid When Selecting Land for Your New Home. In the report, we review the importance of issues that might otherwise never cross your mind, issues that will allow us to work together to find your very own slice of heaven.

Download Your Free Report Now

And then, when you’re ready to start your home building journey, or if you’d like us to help you evaluate a piece of land, call us at (952) 444-4126 to schedule your complimentary, no-obligation virtual consultation or click the button below.