1st step - Location


Where do you want to live? This is one of the first questions to ask yourself when starting a house project. The choice of land is linked to this question. This is a very important step, because then it all starts from there. It will be your place of life, which will partly condition your way of life and your habitat. We must therefore think carefully: ask the right questions and make the right observations.

First, the more general questions to ask yourself are questions related to your needs and wishes.

  • In which region do you want to live? For work, for your loved ones, families, friends? Or for the beauty of the place…?
  • What type of environment do you want to live in? Is it more in the city, in the countryside, in the suburbs? In an agricultural environment, in the mountains, in the forest…?

Different types of backgrounds

Each environment has its constraints and advantages when it comes to establishing a new habitat.

In the suburbs or in the city, it is of course necessary to take into account the municipal regulations for the margins, the height of the building, the architectural style, the views towards the neighbors ... Generally, the more you are in an urbanized environment, the more the regulations are dense: it is a matter of good planning. On the ground, there is usually the aqueduct and the sewer, which minimizes infrastructure costs.

In the countryside, there is no municipal infrastructure on the land: you have to be autonomous. So you need a well and a septic system. It is also necessary to provide for deforestation and stump removal, and to plan a path and an electrical entry, more or less long and therefore more or less expensive. So there are usually more things to plan for in budget planning, and more things to analyze on the spot.

Understand your lot

Each lot presents opportunities and constraints.

First of all, you have to know the physical limits of your lot: survey marks, stakes or markers are important for this, especially if your land is heavily wooded: otherwise difficult to navigate! You can even mark off with ribbons the perimeter of your land or a certain area if the set is really large; this will allow you to always have a visual cue when you walk on your property. You can also use the Infolot application, part of which is free online, and which allows you to geolocate yourself on your property. When a line is ambiguous, it can give a good point of reference as to whether you are at home or at your neighbor's!

Another element to visualize: the riparian strip, if you have a lake or a watercourse on your property. You must then respect a certain margin, which varies depending on the municipality, generally 15 or 20 meters, where you must not set up your project.

Once you have clearly defined the space in which you can set up shop, it is important to observe the slopes of the land. The eye is deceptive, there is always a tendency to minimize actual slopes, to see terrain flatter than it is! That’s why, when we do a site visit, we measure the slopes with a rotating laser, in order to match the house concept well with the terrain.

Another element to observe: the nature of the soil. Do you see large rocks, outcropping rock, do the tree roots stay on the surface or do they seem to be well anchored? These are clues that tell you more about your land. The percolation test (which you can also carry out subsequently and which will be used to determine the type of septic system adapted to your land) will also give you information concerning the nature of the soil (sand, silt, clay, rock, height of groundwater…). All this is useful for knowing more about the type of soil on which the building will be located; therefore to plan a coherent project and provide for appropriate budgets.

Passive solar orientation

We will come back to this point in more detail during the second step relating to the good design of the building. However, when it comes to the choice of terrain, of course some directions are ideal, but you also have to know that there aren't really any bad choices either: because it is also a question of priorities.

The idea on the ground is to look at where the south is, which is the ideal orientation to position the building. Be aware, however, that an orientation of plus or minus 15 degrees from the south has a really extremely minimal influence on heating costs (by the way, LEED certification does not even take this into account). Then, if possible, we favor the East-South-East orientation, which makes it possible to take advantage of the first rays of sun in the morning in order to warm the building from the start of the day (and to stretch out in the sun in the morning!) . Beautiful sunsets are wonderful, but from a passive solar standpoint, they are more wary. Quite simply, because a west orientation brings more risk of overheating, when the low rays of the end of the day still penetrate far into the house, still heating it even though the building has already filled up with energy during the day. However, here again, a distinction must be made between theory and real life. Overheating can in part be avoided with sun visors, choices of glazing, and certain curtains; and of course you can always opt for a very efficient and economical heat pump, to provide a little air conditioning if necessary. In short, if you have a crush on a plot facing west or north, don't worry! Know that it will simply be a matter of planning your project accordingly: it will always be possible to create a bright, warm and comfortable home.

Municipal regulations

We recommend that you validate which municipal regulations apply to your land. Is a certain design required, certain areas? Is there a CCU (Town Planning Advisory Committee) or a PIIA (Site Planning and Architectural Integration Plan) that apply, which may lead to certain directives or certain deadlines to be kept in mind? Is the zoning of the land (the permitted uses) well suited to your project? For example, if you want to build a two-generation or rental project, it is important to check that the zoning allows it, and if so, to know the possible standards that apply on the part of the City. Likewise, if your land is part of a new development, we recommend that you check with the developer what their planned timeline is for making the way, making electricity accessible...

The cost of field infrastructure

Each construction requires infrastructure on the ground. The immediate environment, the length of the path, the type of soil, the relief, the vegetation ... will have various consequences on the work to be planned, which will have to be analyzed in terms of budget and topographical layout. Each land is unique and has its own possibilities.

If you have any questions, give us a call, it will be our pleasure to guide you through the next steps to get your project off to a good start!