Tips for Siting Your Custom Cottage Build

Aug 24, 2021 | cottages

Probably one of the most important considerations you’ll make when planning your custom cottage build is where you’ll situate your new home. Picking the location for your cottage is one of the major advantages of choosing to build a custom home rather than buying one through the traditional real estate market. However, there are many considerations that you’ll need to make when choosing the best site for your small cottage build. By taking the time to evaluate these important elements now, you’ll be able to choose a suitable site that will give you years of homey, cozy happiness!

Important Questions to Ask When Choosing Your Land

One of the main reasons that people choose to build cottage-style custom homes is to get closer to their natural surroundings. But just because the plot of land you select has gorgeous vistas, that doesn’t necessarily mean the ground itself is suitable for building. When getting a feel for the lay of the land, be sure to ask the following questions as you scope out the site for your cottage:

  • Is the land hilly or flat? While it’s possible to build a custom home on a hill, flat surfaces are much easier (and cheaper) to build on.
  • Are there rocky areas? If so, one option could be to blast through the rock (costing more time and money) or you could build around the rocky regions to preserve the site’s natural surroundings.
  • Where are there gullies? Homes built in low-lying areas of the land might be more prone to experiencing basement flooding, rotting sills, and septic problems.
  • Is there surface water? Building in a flood plain is a big no-no, so it’s best to ask if the surface water you see on your land is seasonal or not; otherwise, you could end up with periodic flooding.
  • What kind of soil is there? Small cottages require strong support and drainage for their septic systems. If there’s not enough clay in the soil or the ground is too sandy, it may not be a suitable location for your cottage’s septic needs.
  • What access restrictions exist? Seclusion is certainly an attractive concept to cottage builders, but restricted access could leave you digging yourself out of mountains of snow in the winter, or even prevent you from having trash pickup from the town.

As you ask yourself these questions, it may be helpful to weigh each of them in terms of what’s most important to you. While building on a hill is more expensive, it may be worth it to have a gravity-friendly site that promotes better septic drainage. Likewise, a rocky region might be cause for alarm for some cottage builders while others might incorporate the boulders into the architecture of their custom home. At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference and what’s most important to the person living there — you!

Things to Consider When Siting Your Cottage

In addition to the questions we mentioned above, you’ll also want to consider the following key characteristics when choosing the location of your custom cottage:


Where you orient your cottage is critically important to how your custom home will perform in terms of year-round comfort and energy efficiency. It’s recommended that you visit the property at different times of the day and throughout different seasons to track the sun’s journey. Especially here in South Carolina, it’s important to select a location that has enough shade to block out the extreme southern heat in the summer.

Additionally, you’ll want to consider how the changing seasons will impact things like accessibility and safety. For instance, placing paths or driveways in breezier areas will ensure they remain clear of snow buildup in the winter. In the same vein, north-facing decks are less prone to icing up, resulting in improved safety.


If you’re thinking about clear-cutting the property to make way for more vistas, you might want to rethink your strategy. Chopping down large quantities of trees can harm the land’s ecosystem, changing and limiting its drainage patterns and impacting the efficacy of its septic field. Keeping greenery on your property not only maintains the integrity of your ecosystem, but it also helps promote privacy and reduce noise.


Not every problem can be anticipated simply by observing the land itself. Some drawbacks will only present themselves after thorough research. Be sure to ask your local planning department about the following before settling on your custom cottage site:

  • What zoning ordinances are used to regulate my land’s usage?
  • Are there any easements on my land that could prevent me from building?
  • What are the setbacks from the cottage to the property line?
  • Are there any restrictive covenants that regulate your cottage’s size?
  • Are there any plans for future construction that may impact the views on your land?

What are the Best Sites for a Small Cottage Build?

The short answer to this question is it depends on your personal preferences. If you’re someone who values privacy above all else, a large plot of land in the woods far from civilization might be the site of your dreams. For others, a small, flat lot with a few trees for shade will suffice. The best way to find the right site for your small cottage build is to enlist the help of a knowledgeable home builder. Lee Builders offers the end-to-end custom home building services that South Carolina residents need to make their dream homes a reality. From site selection to cottage construction and everything in between, we are your partners every step of the way. Get started with our custom cottage building process today!