Permitting and Preparing the Land

Designing the Ideal Home – Permitting and Preparing the Land
Part Three of Our Series on the Design/Build Process

Yellow excavator preparing the land

Preparing the land for a custom built home by Unique Homes

Location, Location, Location. Our young family fell in love with the perfect lot to build their custom home by Unique Homes.The location and lot size are perfect but before their dream house can be built; the lot itself requires prep work, both administratively to obtain permits and manually to prepare the land. In its thirty years of building homes, Unique Homes has become skilled with managing this pre-build process.


The lot had a “tear down house” (read about it here) and was overgrown with pine trees and bushes all bordering vegetative wetlands.

Two major factors weigh into preparing the land for building/construction.

  • The existing house was built over fifty years ago
  • The house borders wetlands
Old house

Old house

According to a local zoning law, if a house is over fifty years old, the historical commission must sign off on the demolition of the house. The Historical Commission considers whether any house slated for demolition has historical significance per the Historical Commission bylaws – Chapter 150-3. If the house is deemed to have historical significance, the Historical Commission can impose a two year delay of demolition. Luckily for the family, the house was not considered to have historic significance.
Since the lot is also bordered by wetlands, Unique Homes is required to set up barriers on the bordering vegetated wetland and follow a permitting process to get approval from the Town’s Conservation Committee. Read “It all starts with the Land” here


The steps for obtaining a conservation permit are as follows:

1. Notice of Intent
2. Hearing
3. Engineering Plan to make sure builder takes protective measures
4. Site walk
5. Issue order of conditions
6. Certificate of Compliance issued

After receiving approval from the Historical and Conservation Committees, we are close to demolition of the old house but first all electrical and gas utilities and the septic system must be disconnected. 

The house is then checked for asbestos by an environmental company. In this case, asbestos was found in the attic. The law requires that it be removed and disposed of by a certified environmental company. Once the asbestos is removed, the company issues a certificate stating that all is clear for demo. The demolition permit can now be issued by the building inspector. Demolition begins on the existing house and the debris is removed from the site by Unique Homes.

House being demo - ed to prepare the land


taking down house


At this point, some of the trees have to be cut down so that foundation can be built. The cut trees are shipped to a mill and turned into lumber. The crew needs to “stump the lot” or in layman terms, dig up the remaining stumps so the lot is smooth.


Two excavation trucks preparing the land.

Unique Homes logo with logs ready for transport in order to prepare the land.

Truck taking away the logs from the building lot to prepare the land.

Logs are loaded on a truck to take to a lumber mill

The final step in the process is getting the building permit from the local Building Inspector.
The process of preparing the land is complete and we can begin to build. In our next blog article, we will discuss how the design comes to life in the building process.

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