‘architecture should speak to its time and place, but yearn to be timeless’
So, you have found the perfect piece of vacant land – quiet street, panoramic views, excellent school district, close to work – and you are planning to build the house that you have always dreamed about. How certain are you that this pile of dirt can deliver? At the risk of sounding repetitive, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of ‘knowing your dirt’ so-to-speak. Far too many people have purchased land only to find out after escrow has closed that what they intended to build, is actually an impossible build or simply put, not permitted.
Whether you are looking in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Glendale, Beverly Hills or any of the other municipalities within the region, there will be a litany of questions you will want answered before you buy. You will need to familiarize yourself with the property’s Zoning Designation, Lot Area, Property Lines, Setback Requirements, Easements and FAR (floor area ratio) to determine if there will be enough dirt to even locate a building footprint. In addition, obtaining a property survey which includes the site contours will be crucial to navigating the intricacies of building height restrictions. You will need to take into consideration the Baseline Hillside Ordinance, www.baselinehillsideordinance.com the Coastal Commission and the Mulholland Scenic Parkway Planner. Unfortunately, the list goes on and on. Because the success or failure of your dream home depends on the strategic negotiation between these and other requirements, you will need an experienced advisor to shepherd you through the process.
An architect possesses the unique knowledge and leadership to assemble and guide your team from the moment you become interested in the dirt, until you move into your dream home. An architect has relationships in place with consultants, contractors, and city agencies to obtain rapid and accurate information regarding the potentials and pitfalls surrounding any given building project. In addition to the role as information clearing house, the architect is specifically trained to convert different and sometimes conflicting information into a three-dimensional diagram to represent the restrictions imposed upon the ‘dirt’ in question. Keep in mind that once the property is determined ‘build-able’, the architect is there to advise you on translating the potential of your property into the home you have always dreamed about.
I have been a realtor and real estate land specialist in Los Angeles for the past 15 years, creating opportunities for land-owners and Buyers by brokering vacant land throughout the Greater Los Angeles area. I can be contacted at sales (at) westsideland (dot) com and information can be obtained from www.westsideland.com