Buying Our Building Lot

Armed with the tips from this post, we set out to purchase our building lot! While we had a lot of data gathered through the years, we quickly discovered that each lot has its own merits, considerations and value.

We conducted our search independent of a realtor mainly because we are familiar with the area and have and have been watching the market for a very long time. We felt educated enough to at least begin our search on our own. Our plan was to find a few lots we wanted to look at and hop in the car for some drive-bys. One good thing about searching vacant land is that you can stop at the side of the road and take a look around without a homeowner getting concerned.

While searching online at, a number of properties were easily dismissed.

The main deal-breakers for us were:

  • Lot Size – we wanted more than one acre to fit a bungalow and veggie garden while still keeping as much bush around us as possible.
  • Swamp – many vacant land listings had aerial views of the property which made it easy to see the vegetation on the lot and adjacent land. The aerial views will also show proximity to the lake or any other water source.
  • Walk-ability – it is very important to us to be able to go for a walk and have a couple different routes and distances to choose from. If at least one destination has some kind of water view that’s even better. We also wanted a walk route that didn’t have a lot of traffic. You wouldn’t think it would be a challenge to find such a place, but it can be in remote areas since there aren’t as many roads or smaller neighbourhoods.  

At the same time we started seriously looking for a lot, we also got in touch with a local builder to get to know them and their work and possibly engage them for our custom build. We were able to spend a couple hours with them going through their show home and discussing the process of building a custom home with them. I have to admit that I got wildly excited when they pulled out sample plans that were almost identical to a house plan I had I been eyeing only theirs fixed the one main problem I had with it! We were very lucky to quickly find two lots that knocked any others out of the running.

Lot #1

The first lot was just over 2 acres on a good road, with decent walk or bike riding. It even had water-view destinations in both directions! It was a classic bush lot in which you drive up to a patch of trees and that’s about it. Brian bush-wacked his way in while I stayed at the roadside, unable to make myself follow him. (weird)

Lot #2

The second lot already had a clearing, driveway and gate. In this case we called the listing agent for permission to go in and it was quickly granted. Without hesitation I was exploring beyond the clearing and into the bush. Maybe it was the fact that there was already a clearing but it felt much easier to envision a home here.

Before making any decisions (formally) we:

  1. Made multiple trips to the lots at different times of day.
  2. Walked and drove around the neighbourhoods to get a real feel for the area. At lot #2 we hiked down the short water access trail nearby, even though we’d been there before.
  3. Then we asked the contractor if they’d be willing to stop by the lots and let us know their opinion on building suitability of one vs the other. It didn’t take them long to let us know that either one was a good choice. YAY! Now it was all up to us!

In a nutshell, here is our “just the facts” analysis:

CharacteristicLot #1Lot #2
Size and Shape/Aspect2 acres
Narrow rectangle
Just over 2 acres
Almost square
Walk Score68
Bike Score79
Access to Highway*5 (gravel)8 (paved)
Access to Waterview10 (short walk)8 (trail)

* Access to the highway might not seem like a big deal for a retirement home but for us it is. The main reason is that we’re still going to be working in Owen Sound (about 45 minutes away) for a few years after we move in. We didn’t want that drive to be more cumbersome than necessary.

* We also looked at the (estimated) price of getting a driveway and clearing put in, which put the price of Lot #1 up even more. You’re going to want to read more about this in upcoming posts 😉

We Bought a Lot!!!

In the long run, we determined that there was more value for us in the lot with a clearing and driveway. So it was time to call our realtor Terri Cardinal again! The deal was quickly taken care of and Lot #2 is ours! The funny thing is (well I think it’s funny) even though, I thought I wanted Lot #1 more, the fact that I wouldn’t even do the bushwhacking part could have been my biggest indicator of which lot was best for us.

Let the fun and planning begin!  

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The Cottage Wife

In addition to hiking, biking, reading and writing, I like to focus on making as light an impact on the land possible, while still living a modern life.

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