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Building Lots For Sale

building lots for sale

A building lot may seem quite normal until the ground gets hot and then molten rock comes out in your front yard. This is the before and after satellite photos of the May 2018 Kilauea Hawaii Fissure 8 volcano eruption. Yes, it's possible you could buy a building lot that might become a volcano. Copyright 2018 Washington Post - Fair Use Doctrine Usage.

"Flash floods are the most common hazards for building lots. These floods affect land that may seem safe."

Building Lots For Sale - Not All Are Great

The building lots for sale you're looking at may seem to be fine, but there could be many hazards that could affect the lot.

Here are the most common building lots for sale #FAILS:

  • fill dirt lot
  • flooding
  • wildfire
  • earthquakes
  • landslide
  • debris flow

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Why is Fill Dirt a Danger?

Fill dirt is a danger because it may not have been compacted the right way. The dirt may have been piled on top of organic debris or it could be an ancient garbage landfill.

A friend of mine bought a building lot that was fill dirt. His house eventually split in two as the ground settled. He sued the developer and won the case getting a better lot and a new home.

Fill dirt is always a gamble because you hope the dirt was compacted properly and it will not settle more.

What Kind of Building Lots Flood?

Here's a short list of building lots that can flood:

  • lots in a floodplain
  • lots in a creek valley
  • lots in a subdivision near an old dry creek bed
  • lots near the ocean subject to wind-driven storm surge

Flash floods are the most common hazards for building lots. These floods affect land that may seem safe.

Watch this video and tell me if you felt it would be safe to buy one of the buildings on that city street?

Here's the topography map of Ellicott City, Maryland. Note how the town is in a small river valley.

building lots for sale

Most people would think it's completely safe to build near the small creeks at the red arrows. Don't be "most people". Copyright 2018 Google Inc.

The red arrows point to three small creeks or streams that drain towards the major river. A huge rainstorm caused the raging waters you see in the video above. The small shallow creeks feeding into Ellicott City became raging torrents of water as evidenced in the video.

It's important to realize that hurricanes and Nor'easters can create a huge storm surge walls of water that create flooding a mile or more inland from the coast. Pay attention to how high the building lot is above sea level and realize some storm surges are 15, or more, feet high.

Will Wildfires Affect a Building Lot?

Wildfires are a real danger to building lots. You may keep brush away from your home, but wind-driven embers from the fire can land on your home.

There are not enough firefighters to save all homes. Will your home be one that's lost?

Are Earthquakes a Danger to All Building Lots for Sale?

Yes, earthquakes are a danger to all building lots in seismic zones. You can do many things to strengthen a home and make it more resistant to earthquake damage.

How Do Landslides Impact Building Lots?

Watch this video. If you saw giant boulders in a somewhat level field, would you wonder how they got there?

How can a Debris Flow Hurt a Building Lot?

A debris flow can hurt a building lot because it's a giant mass of moving slurry containing water, sand, rocks, and boulders. It's like a massive amount of moving concrete coming at you, your home and your lot.

All you need to do is read The Great Crescenta Valley Flood to understand how you can make a mistake buying the wrong building lot.

The author, Art Cobery, talks about the fog of complacency. This is the real danger. In a short amount of time people get complacent.

A disaster happens in a city or town and within a few years, the memory starts to fade or get foggy. A generation, or two passes, and the current residents have no memory of the ticking time bomb around and under their homes.

Debris flows are deadly, sudden and can overtake you in seconds.

Building Lots for Sale - Don't Buy The Wrong One!
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Building Lots for Sale - Don't Buy The Wrong One!
Many building lots for sale look safe. All sorts of dangers can be lurking that might harm you, your loved ones, or your treasures.
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4 Responses to Building Lots For Sale

  1. Very educational. I live in the Haliburton Highlands of central Ontario. I always shake my head at houses built right on the edge of huge hills. It is the what if that bothers me. While there isn't any risk of serious flooding in my location, there are areas in the immediate vicinity that do flood often. Why would someone want a house on a floodplain? Maybe the same reason people don't drive with care. They think it can't happen to them. My little cabin is in the bush. There are fires up here often enough and usually the buildings are lost. But these aren't generally forest fires, but fires that started in a building.

  2. As a response to Craig that asked why one would build in a floodplain? There is a great deal of floodplain property not around where I live and there is one big temptation, the land is much cheaper than other land in the area. There are various amounts of potential flooding in floodplains and one always hopes where they buy and build will be spared. And some may be spared for quite a while and then some days long storm comes and then those in the floodplain that built their homes higher than the water level at least don't get the house flooded. Still may have flooded cars and can't drive away.

  3. Research your lot at the county zoning department, and pay attention to clues the land itself gives you. Talk to people who are knowledgeable about any issues you are concerned about. Example: my dad was a pipefitter and worked on many gas lines in his life before he became an inspector. He was the perfect person to ask about the high-pressure gas line that crosses the back half of my property. I asked him how big a hole it would make if it blew. During my research, I also learned that most gas line ruptures are caused during construction in the area - like someone hitting it with a backhoe instead of shoveling by hand when they get close. My number one tip is that the lots that are advertised in the paper are the ones the agents want to get rid of the most. By the same token, the lots some real estate agents take you to first are the ones they want to get rid of because there are problems (either hazards or title defects). Read between the lines in the stories the agent tells you about the land. "It's guaranteed to perk", he says. Guaranteed to perk WHAT? For a mound system that will cost more? Find an acreage that's already had a perk test. If it's hooked up to city water and sewer, learn all the ordinances that might affect what you want to do with the land.

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