Many prospective homeowners have a very rigid view of what a lake house is: They imagine either a shabby, rundown shack or an illustrious lakeside estate. This simply doesn't have to be the case. Many moderate-sized homes can make the lake house a viable option for people with established finances, but who don't have inexhaustible funds. In fact, far from stereotypical, lake house plans are often some of the most customized and unique house plans available.
Lake Property and Property Values
Lake property usually doesn't work like other lots or home building real estate. Local authorities that own and govern the lake often control the immediate lake shore. Now, every state, municipality, and the lakes they govern may operate a little differently, but often this makes home building unwise within this boundary. What does this mean? If a local municipality controls all the land within 100 feet of the lake, you may very well be able to build a home on the lake, but if the local authorities decide they need to use that land for any reason at any time, they can knock your house down.
Obviously, it's a little more complicated than this (and the extent of this control is regulated by the legalese), but you need to carefully check this situation before construction. Any reputable home builder/architect will be to inform you of the exact nature of these laws, but these kinds of considerations can also sometimes affect what home builder you hire in the first place.
These laws and situations are what have traditionally led to the large lakeside estates and the shabby shacks. Lake property tends to be expensive enough that only the very rich can afford it, but estates must be built far enough away from the lake to prevent any trouble with the lake authority. The shacks were built as temporary structures by people who decided to purchase or squat on a tiny piece of land and didn't care if the structures were destroyed.
Your Lake Home: Custom Lake House Plans
Besides the exact by-laws for lake construction in your area, the terrain of the available property may also play a factor. Many lakes are surrounded by hillsides, providing an extra wrinkle during construction, but also affording you amazing opportunities for built-in construction and decking. What would a lake house be without an amazing view of the lake and surrounding area? This doesn't mean your lake house needs to be a mansion or cost you the entirety of your retirement fund to build. In fact, you may very well be better off building a smaller lake house, tailored to your individual needs than using a canned, ready-made house planeven if this house plan gives you an extra couple hundred square feet.
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Choosing a Home Builder for Your Lake House
Choosing a home builder is a complicated matter in the simplest of circumstances, and lake houses are rarely as straightforward as other homes. On top of the standard considerations you should take for any home builder (years of experience, professionalism and flexibility, proper licensing and insurance, securing building permits), you should look for specific experience in building lake houses from your home builder. Home builders are notorious for sounding accommodating at the beginning of the home-building process, only to begin to dictate what must happen as construction nears completion.
Of course, some of the best sources for choosing home builders are other people who have built homes on the same lake. You may find, however, that these sources report negative experiences. One home builder may have what seems like a monopoly for building lake homes in that area. If this is the case, you'll definitely want to at least try to solicit bids from multiple home builders to make sure you find a reliable contractor and a decent quote. Remember when comparing quotes that each one should include everything that needs to be done but may not take into account unforeseen problems.