Why We Are Building HUTS Land

Every day, HUTS fields calls from about a dozen new people looking for a modern cabin in upstate New York and requests for additional information from another dozen. These two dozen intrepid dreamers see a polished rendering or photo of a completed project, reach out to us and say: “That’s what I want.” We have to meet their immediate enthusiasm with the less-than-immediate timeline of new home construction.

Our step-by-step description maps out the journey we’ll need to embark on together to get you from where you are to where you want to be. From sitting in your apartment in the city, pining over a well-styled home on social media, to sitting by the fire in your own (ideally income-generating) home that’s perfectly nestled into your own slice of secluded woodlands.

We’ve broken it down into twelve major steps:

  1. Identify a land parcel
  2. Complete due diligence on that land parcel
  3. Purchase that land parcel
  4. Design a Home
  5. Create full construction, mechanical, electrical and plumbing plans for that home design
  6. Solicit bids from contractors to build that home design
  7. Secure permits to build that home design
  8. Submit plans and income statement to a bank to secure construction financing
  9. Build the house
  10. Ensure the build adheres to the designs throughout the construction process
  11. Furnish and decorate the house
  12. Enjoy (and occasionally rent) the house

Over the last year, we’ve worked hard to streamline a lot of the steps in this journey. We made home design, construction documentation, and permitting more efficient with the help of our Design Catalogs and the creation of our HUTS Standards Plans. We’ve built out a network of trusted contractors from the Delaware River to the Berkshires. We’ve navigated town boards and zoning reviews. We’ve partnered with millworkers, interior designers and furniture makers to create considered interior palettes. But, we missed something.

Very few customers have land.

Of the two dozen people we chat with each day, twenty on average don’t own a land parcel yet (but most spend some time each day looking around at listings). Fifteen of those twenty aren’t sure what area they want to be in. Ten of those fifteen people aren’t sure of the acreage they’re looking for or the environmental setting that would work best for them. Almost nobody has a clear understanding of the process to evaluate land or get it ready to build a house on. Is that for lack of trying? No.

The bigger issue is that the process of marketing and evaluating land online is, well, not great. It’s easy to get lost in listings with out-of-context pictures of trees and little additional information other than the purchase price. Without being there in person, it’s no wonder so many potential home design clients get in touch looking for support on how to find the right piece of land for them.

It’s hard to understand land listings.

Trulia? Zillow? Realtor.com? These sites are designed to showcase new and resale homes. You can filter and sort by bedrooms, by bathrooms, by existing amenities like fireplaces and pools. That’s great for houses. It’s basically useless for land.

Does this sound familiar? You’re excited to find a place in the Catskills and filter property type by “Land,” omitting houses, condos, multifamilies, and all others. You start poking around at one listing with a blurry set of pictures of trees listed for $45k. Looks good…Maybe? 

Then, you find another listing – same area, similar acreage – featuring another gallery of blurry pictures of trees for $80k. Was something wrong with the first pictures of trees? Were those bad trees? Are the second set of trees overpriced?

It’s tough to make sense of it all.

The criteria for evaluating land to build on is totally different from the search criteria for existing houses, but no sites have really focused on the land-buying experience. You’ll want to know if there are any utilities on the property and, if not, how difficult and expensive it will be to supply power and water to your build site.

You’ll want to understand what land use rules apply to the property, like subdivision restrictions, covenants tied to the deed, or other conservation considerations. You’ll want to know how “out there” it is – a short drive to town or way out in the boonies. You’ll want to know what unique land features are there. Meadow? Stream? Frequent animal crossings? Unique species?

You’re buying your land parcel not just to take a trip to nature, but also to be in and of nature. How you find the right parcel should reflect how important the land will be to the experience of your upstate property.

It’s hard to visit land listings. 

There’s no replacement for walking a parcel to get the feeling of its unique setting and possibilities. Our land service will refer clients to our partner realtors whose on-the-ground expertise is invaluable. But, unless you have a month available to dedicate solely to identifying your land parcel, you can’t visit every site from the Delaware River to the Berkshires that catches your eye. 

Our curated service will help you more efficiently cull your list. It will describe the “build-readiness” of each lot, provide descriptions for where we would site a house on the property, and our recommendations for how to responsibly and sustainably utilize the land. When you can’t visit every lot in person, HUTS’ curated listings is the next best thing.

We’re going to make reviewing land parcels easy. 

We polled you guys – our amazing audience and clients – and asked you about your ideal setting for your HUT. How much do you want to spend on land? How far from a town do you want to be? Do you prefer meadows or woodlands? Streams or lakes? Mountains or foothills? After a few hundred responses and dozens of customer interviews, we’ve heard you. We know the types of parcels you want to find and we’re hand-selecting the listings that fit your vision.

Someone much smarter than me once said that you shouldn’t give people what they want, you should give what they need. Hopefully, we can do both. But, to get the cabin experience you really want, we’re going to help you find what you really need: the perfect piece of land. 

Look out for our Land Listing service soon. Stay tuned for more!