Key Considerations Before Choosing a Building Site

May 05, 2016
Building a house is one of the most personal things in someone’s life, and choosing a site upon which to build it can be an incredibly daunting part of the process.

The process often begins by visiting the building site. We survey and analyze the site to determine the best placement for the home, which allows for optimal sun positioning, view, and the most minimal site invasion. This is especially important with the Texas climate and landscape.

For one of our clients in Spanish Oakswe leveraged the topography and panoramic view by incorporating a cascading design down the site slope. The upper floor has panoramic views while the lower entertainment floor featuring a partial walk-out basement and a negative edge pool. The view is still unencumbered and amazing since the second detached garage was placed just out of view from the rear of the home. This allowed the home to blend into the landscape rather than standing out. We also positioned the home in such a way so that the summer sun never shines directly into the main living areas of the home, but it rises and sets horizontally across the home. This allows for the utilization of the large outdoor decks with fireplaces year round, which is a real bonus in Texas.

austin, architecture, architect, negative edge pool, pool, spanish oaks          austin, architect, architecture, outdoors, pool, deck, patio

At C Reese Design, we analyze the site of your choosing to determine how to best use the building site in both a structural and aesthetically pleasing way.

Before deciding on a building site, there are several factors to take into account.

Topography and Soil

The topography and type of soil where you plan to build can greatly affect the structure of a home. Building a home on flat land will come with fewer issues regarding layout and creating an outdoor space or yard. However, a sloped building site may present some wonderful opportunities for the overall architectural design and natural lighting.

Soils of varying compositions can affect the cost of your home in a significant way. If your property has a solid limestone characteristic, the cost of your foundation will be far less than if you are trying to build on clay. If the soil contains too much clay, then your foundation could crack or sink without a more substantial foundation construction technique. If a site requires extensive excavation work or fill work, then you will incur extra costs – so taking advantage of slopes rather than trying to flatten a lot completely is to your advantage most of the time.

austin, architecture, architect, spanish oaks


Natural lighting is an important part of designing a home. On one hand, you want to have a lot of it to make your home bright. On the other hand, you don’t want so much that your house becomes overheated in the middle of the day. That is why selecting the proper building site matters as far as the direction that your home may face. Another very important factor is the use of nature’s solar protection … trees.

Positioning around existing large trees, especially having a few on the west side of your home, is one of the best natural heat insulators other than subterranean rooms. If the main windows of your home face north to northwest and south to southeast and you have a few trees to the west side of your home, then it will reduce the amount of sunlight and heating in the summer months. This is something that is very important during the hot Texas summers. C Reese Design can assist you with your final site decision or assess your existing building site and work with you to determine the best location and how the work with your site to best meet your needs.

Water and Civic Services

The site you choose impacts your options for water access and wastewater services. Some will choose a site that is suburban and has access to those services so you can expect easy hookup to water and other utilities without incurring much extra costs. However, many of our clients choose properties that require wells and septic systems. In these situations, more and more people opt for more sustainable options, like a water collection for their landscaping and/or potable water. There are a variety of septic systems to meet various site restrictions.This is especially impactful to the cost and use of your site so we will guide you through the pros and cons of these choices.

The vision of your dream home starts with the land that the home will rest upon. Walking through the process with a professional architecture company can definitely ease your concerns so that you can make an informed well thought out decision. C-Reese Design is happy to assist in making your large undertaking a happy and memorable experience. Choosing the right build site is key to the architectural design and ultimately the construction of your ideal home. Whatever you decide, we recommend including us in the conversation when scouting your dream location.