Before you buy that vacant lot in order to build a new investment property, just as with an existing structure you need to some research first. That’s obviously a given but at first glance buying a vacant lot could really produce relatively few surprises, right? After all, there’s no foundation to check and no research the lot thoroughlyheating and air conditioning that has to pass muster.

If you’ve never purchased a vacant lot for the purposes of building new, or even if you have, here a few things to look out for.

You can’t just measure off the size of the lot and make sure the house will fit on it. That’s one of the obvious things to do but before you get too far, get as much information from the seller as possible. Has the property any utilities at all? Is water hooked up from the main line and if you have to install a septic system has the soil passed any sort of percolation test? And what about any easements or rights of way that the seller might know about. Remember, sellers are legally bound to disclose any known issues about the property and if something is hidden from you the sellers can be held liable for the non-disclosure.

Your next stop is with the city government. What are the setback requirements? And what about impervious cover limits? Impervious cover restrictions dictate how much land can be permanently covered with a house, a pool or other non-mobile improvement. Are there existing tree ordinances? Some cities today restrict the removal of trees if they’re of a certain age and during construction, existing trees must be protected.

The city may also have a copy of a survey of the home which will show the lot, its boundaries and any rights of way or easements on the property. In addition make sure you get a copy of the city’s building codes and requirements. The city can provide the information you need at little or no charge before you move to the next level. A vacant lot doesn’t mean vacant information. Know before you go.