May 25, 2017

With the booming population growth that Houston has experienced in recent years, many new residents are choosing to purchase land and build new homes rather than move in to pre-existing structures. But while building your own home can be rewarding, it can also be fraught with certain challenges, especially in the coastal Houston area where many plots of land are wet or marshy.

It is certainly possible to build on your land and create a structurally sound, beautiful home in wet soil. Many homeowners before you have done it! However, it is a task that you need to approach carefully to avoid issues down the road. If you're thinking of building on a wet, marshy plot of land, follow these four tips to avoid calamity.

1. Budget for soil amendment.

Building on marsh lands can be more costly than you might assume, largely because you must first have the soil amended and strengthened. In some areas, this may just require bringing in a few extra truckloads of soil and compacting the ground to give the foundation a firm base. In other areas, you may need to have a more complex drainage system built to keep the land around your home dry. Either way, be sure to get some estimates for soil amendment and drainage early on so you can plan for these costs when designing your home.

2. Work with an experienced building company.

Before you hire a contractor to design and build your home, research their history carefully. Only hire someone who has experience building on wet, marshy lands. You may want to ask for addresses of other homes they have built in the Houston area. Drive around and see some of these homes to verify that they not only demonstrate the type of design you are looking for, but also appear to still be structurally sound after several years. You can also ask a contractor for references specifically from past customers who have had homes built on wet soil. As you may expect, Partners in Building does have experience building all over the Houston area and we would be happy to share references.

3. Be flexible in your plans.

When your contractor assesses your land and its quality, they may find that certain aspects of your desired home design are not feasible given the soil quality in certain areas. For instance, you may want a long and narrow ranch home, but the land may be better suited for a square-shaped layout. While it's definitely ideal to approach the building process with a list of qualities you want in your home, you must also understand that the wet land may restrict your options to a certain degree.

4. Understand that a basement may not be an option.

If you want to include a basement in your home, it will have to be very carefully designed to prevent water problems. Even the most careful builder may not be able to guarantee that you won't eventually end up with water in your basement if the soil shifts and there's a season of heavy rainfall. So, in most cases, it's best to say "no thank you" to a basement when you build on your land. Consider including a larger garage or an extra storage room in your floor plan to make up for the lost space. 

Many homes in the Houston area have been built on plots of land that were once moist and somewhat marshy. So, you don't have to be fearful to build on your land just because it is wet. Follow the tips above, work with a reputable building company, and you can have the custom home of your dreams.