Selecting the Perfect Lot for Your Dream Home in Charleston: Tips for Buyers

Selecting the Perfect Lot for Your Dream Home in Charleston

If you’re in the process of buying property in Charleston, or if you’re simply looking around for the perfect land to build a house, you’ll want the advice of the Charleston experts. In this blog, we’ll go into detail about how to choose the perfect lot, the process of building your custom home, and how to best prepare for your home-building journey.

Who, What, When, Where, How, and Why of Buying Land to Build a Home in Charleston

Building your dream home in Charleston is an exciting prospect. You have a historic backdrop, countless restaurants and activities to try, and so much charm.

As you’re in the beginning stages of planning to build, you’ll want a residence that mirrors your lifestyle and interests, and picking the perfect location is the first step. The lot you choose will be the foundation where your dream home will stand; it shapes not only the physical structure but also the entire atmosphere of your home.

In this guide, we’ll provide essential tips for homebuyers looking to purchase land and build in Charleston, ensuring that no stone goes unturned when it comes to building a home that aligns with your vision.

Be sure to consider your daily preferences when choosing a location to build. For waterfront living, avoid the heart of Charleston. If you desire easy access to restaurants and coffee shops, a suburban setting may not be suitable.

Let’s dive into the top considerations when selecting a lot and building your dream home in Charleston.

Who Needs to Be Involved When Buying Land to Build a House?

When choosing land to buy for building your dream home in Charleston, it's important to recognize that there are several key players who can help make sure the entire process is as successful and smooth as possible. Collaborating with these people will help you avoid risks, navigate potential challenges, and ultimately secure a piece of land that aligns with your vision. 

Here's a breakdown of the key players who should be involved when purchasing land for home construction:

  • Family Decision-Makers: Of course, getting input from your spouse and immediate family members who will be living in the home is essential to ensure everyone is on the same page.

  • Real Estate Agent: Ideally, look for a real estate agent with experience buying empty lots. Their expertise in the local market, understanding of zoning regulations, and insights into property values are invaluable. A real estate agent will assist you in finding suitable lots, negotiating terms, and guiding you through the intricacies of the purchasing process.

  • Land Surveyor: A land surveyor plays a vital role in evaluating the boundaries and topography of the land. They’ll provide accurate measurements, identify potential issues, and assess the suitability of the land for your intended build. A detailed land survey is essential for understanding the physical characteristics of the property and whether it’s a good idea to build on it or not.

  • Architect: While architects are traditionally associated with the design phase, involving them early in the land purchase process can be beneficial. Architects can assess the feasibility of your vision on a specific lot, considering factors such as topography, orientation, and local regulations. Their insights can help you make informed decisions about the compatibility of your dream home with the chosen piece of land.

  • Builder/Contractor: Bringing a builder or contractor into the conversation early in the process allows you to assess the feasibility of your project and the potential costs associated with building on a specific lot. Builders can provide insights into construction logistics, identify any potential challenges, and help estimate the overall cost of turning your dream into a reality. Their involvement ensures that the chosen land aligns with your budget and construction goals.

  • Financial Advisor: If you plan on financing, involving a lender or financial advisor is an important step you won’t want to ignore. They can help you understand your budget, explore financing options, and navigate the financial aspects of acquiring land. Their expertise ensures that your financial strategy aligns with your overall home construction plans.

By assembling a team and gathering their input, you can approach the process of buying land with confidence. Their collective expertise will mitigate potential challenges and pave the way for a successful lot purchase for your dream home in Charleston.

What to Know Before Buying Land to Build On

Before purchasing land for your dream home in Charleston, get well-informed about every aspect that goes into buying a lot. Here's a breakdown of key considerations that should be on your radar before buying land to build on.

Lot Size

The size of the lot you choose dictates what and how you’ll be able to build. Does the lot provide adequate space for your envisioned home? Does it allow you to include outdoor amenities like a pool or a covered porch? Buying a larger lot also gives the potential for future expansions. 

Proximity to Neighbors

Evaluate the level of privacy the land offers and its proximity to any neighbors. Determine how far it is from the center of town, as well. If you prefer a secluded retreat, then a suburb of Charleston might work better for you, as opposed to a more central location that’s walking distance from many attractions.

Proximity to Water

Waterfront property can offer stunning views but may also present challenges, such as potential flood risks, more bugs, and a less sturdy foundation. Flood insurance in Charleston can be a big expense, so keep that in mind when searching for a lot.

Electrical Grid Access

You’ll want to make sure that the land you choose has access to the electrical grid. Assessing the feasibility and the cost of connecting your future home to the grid helps to avoid unexpected expenses during the construction phase.

Drinking Water and Sewage

Make sure that there’s availability of reliable drinking water and a reliable sewage system. If the land is not connected to municipal services, you’ll want to explore options for well drilling and septic systems, which impacts your overall construction plans and costs.

Internet/Cell Service

It’s nice to have peace and quiet, but most people draw the line at no cell connectivity. Check the quality of internet and cell service in the area you choose; a strong and reliable connection is essential for modern living, especially if you want to include smart home options in your build, or if you plan to work from home. 

Soil Depth and Composition

Understanding the soil depth and composition is crucial for construction. Different soil types have varying bearing capacities which affect the foundation and design and can increase construction costs.

Property Taxes

Home prices can be steep, but property taxes are often overlooked in the overall budget. Research the property tax rates in the area and consider how they’ll impact your overall budget, as they can vary widely between locations.


Zoning dictates how the land can be used, and compliance is essential for determining whether your dream home can be built on the lot you choose. Zoning also influences the type of structures allowed and potential land use changes, which can affect any future renovations or add-ons.

Local Building Codes/Bylaws

Compliance with local regulations is mandatory and puts you on the path to safeguarding the structural integrity of your home. Failure to adhere to building codes often leads to complications during the construction and approval processes down the road.

Being aware of these things before starting construction protects you from delays and issues. Make sure to check and double-check that you comply with any codes and regulations.

When Is the Best Time to Buy Land to Build a Home?

Determining the optimal time to buy land for your custom home build in Charleston is a nuanced decision that’s influenced by various factors. While there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer, considering the following aspects can guide you in making a well-timed and strategic land purchase.

Market Conditions

The availability and pricing of land can fluctuate based on market trends, economic factors, and seasonal patterns. Observing the market conditions in Charleston allows you to identify favorable times for making your purchase.

Seasonal Variations

The season you buy can impact land availability and pricing. In general, the real estate market tends to be more active during the spring and summer months. However, in Charleston's milder climate, the market may not experience as pronounced seasonal fluctuations as in other regions.

Pre-Construction Planning

Ideally, consider buying the land well in advance of your planned construction start date. This gives you ample time for pre-construction planning, including getting the necessary permits, finalizing architectural designs, and addressing any potential challenges associated with the land.

Availability of Professionals

The availability of architects, builders, and contractors may influence your timing. Make sure that these experts are available and can commit to your project timeline. Even if you’re ready to start building, they may not be, since many reputable professionals are constantly on site and on the job. 

Personal Readiness

Evaluate how ready you are. Building a custom home takes up a lot of time, so you’ll want to make sure that your lifestyle and commitments align with the demands of the construction process.

Contingency Planning

Include contingency planning in your timeline. Unforeseen challenges, such as weather delays or regulatory hurdles, can impact your construction schedule. Allowing for flexibility in your timeline helps the construction process go more smoothly and accommodates unexpected developments that you might come across.

Where Should You Buy Property in Charleston?


You’ve decided on Charleston — which is an easy decision, we know! But in what area of Charleston do you want to build your custom dream home? That question may be a little tougher to answer.

There are an incredible number of beautiful areas in Charleston. Let’s go over them to give you a better idea of what may suit you best.


Charleston Neighborhoods Guide


Ansonborough, located in historic downtown Charleston, is known for its cobblestone streets, antebellum architecture, and proximity to the Charleston City Market. The charm and well-preserved history is basically your backyard.


This vibrant and eclectic neighborhood is characterized by its historic homes, tree-lined streets, and a mix of classic Charleston charm and modern energy. It's a popular area for young professionals and students due to its proximity to the College of Charleston and restaurant scene.

Daniel Island

About a 25-minute drive from Charleston, Daniel Island is a master-planned community featuring a mix of residential, recreational, and commercial spaces. Known for its waterfront views, well-maintained parks, and small-town atmosphere, it offers a serene living experience.


The Eastside of Charleston is a diverse and evolving neighborhood with a rich history. It's undergoing revitalization, attracting residents with its proximity to the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), historic homes, and cultural amenities. It also includes the famous Rainbow Row area.

Folly Beach

Folly Beach is a laid-back coastal community known for its wide sandy beaches, surfing spots, and relaxed atmosphere. It's a popular destination for both residents and visitors seeking a beachside lifestyle.

French Quarter

Nestled within historic downtown Charleston, the French Quarter is renowned for its cobblestone streets, art galleries, and historic churches. It's a cultural hub with a European ambiance that offers one of Charleston’s most famous blends of history and contemporary charm.

Harleston Village

Harleston Village, adjacent to MUSC and within walking distance of the College of Charleston, is a charming neighborhood featuring historic architecture and scenic streets. It combines residential tranquility with vibrant cultural amenities.


I’On is an upscale, planned community known for its traditional architecture, waterfront views, and a central square. It offers a picturesque and walkable environment with a mix of residential, commercial, and recreational spaces.

Isle of Palms

A barrier island just off the coast of Charleston, Isle of Palms is a popular beach destination characterized by pristine shores, upscale resorts, and a relaxed coastal atmosphere. It attracts both residents and vacationers seeking a serene island lifestyle.

King Street Historic District

The King Street Historic District is Charleston's premier shopping and dining destination. It’s the main street in Charleston and is lined with historic buildings, boutiques, and renowned restaurants. It's a bustling and vibrant area in the heart of the city.


This historic district is known for its 19th-century architecture, cobblestone streets, and proximity to Marion Square. Mazyck-Wraggborough offers a glimpse into Charleston's past with well-preserved homes and charming streetscapes and is within walking distance from many shops, restaurants, and hotels.

North Central

North Central is an up-and-coming neighborhood with a mix of historic and modern homes. Its central location and ongoing development projects make it an attractive area for those seeking a dynamic urban living experience. Prices in this area will continue to rise, so get in while it’s hot.

Old Village

Old Village, located in Mount Pleasant and about a 20-minute drive from Charleston (and 10 minutes from the beach), is a picturesque and historic neighborhood known for its tree-lined streets, waterfront views, and well-preserved homes. It offers a charming blend of Southern hospitality and coastal living.


Radcliffeborough, near the College of Charleston, is a historic district known for its antebellum architecture, charming streets, and vibrant academic atmosphere. It's a sought-after area for its historic charm and proximity to downtown amenities.

South of Broad

South of Broad is an iconic and prestigious neighborhood in historic Charleston, known for its grand antebellum homes, cobblestone streets, and waterfront mansions. It represents the epitome of Southern elegance and architectural magnificence.

Sullivan’s Island

Sullivan’s Island, a serene barrier island near Charleston, is characterized by pristine beaches, historic landmarks, and a quiet residential atmosphere. It's a coveted destination for those seeking a tranquil coastal lifestyle while still enjoying proximity to great restaurants.

West Ashley

Located west of the Ashley River about 25 minutes from Charleston, West Ashley is a diverse and expansive area offering a mix of residential, commercial, and recreational spaces. It's known for its suburban feel, shopping centers, and countless amenities.

Each area in Charleston has its unique charm and character and caters to a diverse range of preferences and lifestyles. Whether you're drawn to historic districts, coastal retreats, or vibrant areas with a more “city life” feel, Charleston's neighborhoods offer a rich selection of living experiences for you to choose from.

How to Purchase Land and Build a House

Once you’ve decided on the area where you want to live, you’ll need to think about budgeting and paying for the costs of lot purchase and construction. A good place to start is looking into the various types of loans, including land loans, construction loans, and even personal loans.

From there, you’ll want to start looking for land that’s for sale, and a real estate agent will be your best friend during this process. Once you’ve narrowed down several lots you’re interested in, you’ll want to take the time to visit the properties to make sure the area (and surrounding areas) complements the vision you have for your dream home.

One important step: get the land surveyed. Getting land surveyed before purchasing is important for several reasons, as it provides essential information that can impact your decision-making process and the future use of the property.

Here are key reasons why land surveys are important before buying land:

  • Boundary Identification: A land survey precisely identifies the boundaries of the property. This helps you understand the exact extent of the land you are purchasing and ensures that there are no encroachments or boundary disputes with neighboring properties.

  • Easement and Right-of-Way Identification: Surveys reveal the presence of easements and right-of-ways on the property. Easements grant others the right to use part of your property for specific purposes, such as utility access. Knowing about this is vital for future development plans and property use.

  • Zoning Compliance: Land surveys provide information on zoning restrictions and compliance. Zoning regulations dictate how the land can be used and what can be built on it. Understanding zoning restrictions is an important step that takes into consideration your intended use of the land and whether it aligns with local regulations.

  • Topographical Information: Surveys include topographical details, such as elevation changes, slopes, and natural features. This information is valuable for planning construction, landscaping, and drainage. It’s especially useful when it comes to building on barrier islands since it helps you identify potential challenges and opportunities related to the land's topography.

  • Flood Zone Determination: Land surveys often include flood zone information. This is an important step, especially in Charleston which experiences more flooding than other areas of the country. Understanding the flood zone status helps you assess the potential risks, insurance requirements, and additional costs associated with building in flood-prone areas.

  • Title Issues and Property Ownership: Surveys can uncover title issues, such as discrepancies between the legal description and the actual boundaries of the property. Resolving these issues before purchasing is essential to make sure that ownership is clear and undisputed.

  • Legal Protection: A professional land survey provides legal documentation of the property's physical features and boundaries. This documentation serves as evidence in case you run into property disputes and can be a very helpful element should you be part of any legal proceedings.

  • Future Development Planning: If you’re planning to develop the land, a survey helps assess the feasibility of construction, identify potential challenges, and plan the layout of structures, driveways, and any other improvements you plan to make.

  • Loan Approval and Lender Requirements: Many lenders require a current land survey before approving a loan for land purchase. The survey provides the lender with accurate information about the property and reduces the overall risks and delays that can come with a land purchase.

Once you’ve taken the necessary steps, it’s time to make an offer. Your real estate agent will be a huge help during this process. They’ll know exactly what to do and can help with getting any necessary permits and paperwork completed.

From there, all that’s left is to close on the property and start building!

Why Choose Cook Bonner Ebeling Construction for Your Charleston Home?

Selecting the right construction partner to help bring your dream home vision to life can make or break the entire process. You’ll want a builder who has extensive experience building in the area and the potential challenges that come with its particular climate and landscape.

Cook Bonner Ebeling Construction offers unparalleled expertise and a commitment to crafting homes that have exceeded expectations for decades.

Building a custom luxury home is an inherently personal endeavor. Our team excels in tailoring every detail to your unique preferences and has a wealth of experience to tackle any challenge or design request. As with anything, communication is key, and we maintain continuous communication at every stage of the construction process.

With a deep-rooted connection to the Charleston community and a proven track record of exceptional homes, you're not merely selecting a construction partner; you're engaging with a team committed to turning your dream into a living masterpiece.

Your dream home deserves the best, and with Cook Bonner Ebeling, excellence is not just a promise — it's our way of doing things. If you’re ready to start talking design, get in touch with our team. We can’t wait to turn your vision into a reality!


New call-to-action