What Are My Options for Buying Vacant Land and Building a Home?

Many people come to our neck of the woods with visions of their perfect home, nestled into stunning landscapes.  Sometimes, their dreams and reality match.  Sometimes though, people can't find a home with the right layout, the right size or the right age for their needs.  

You may not find the home of your dreams in the traditional way. That's ok; you can build it! Custom built homes on vacant land give you the opportunity to create your living space brick by brick. What's more, you may actually save money. Let's take a look at some of your options.

Building From Scratch on Vacant Land

Buying land and building a house from scratch is one of the most exciting experiences that you can undertake in the real estate market. You have full reign over the feature set of the home, you can build it with the exact materials that you want, and you can fit the home to your needs.

Building from scratch can also be less expensive than a factory built home in certain cases. With the right real estate agent helping you find and broker deals, you can profit on the buy of the land and the construction of the home as well. The process is detailed; however, if you are looking for customization, this is the way to go.  

With all vacant land purchases where you intend to build, you have to always be sure that electricity and internet - if you want it - can be provided to the lot.  Also, you need to think about where your water will come from and the anticipated changes in property tax after your build is complete.  Working with respected real estate professionals will enable you to ensure you don't make an investment that will not return in the future due to an amateur mistake.  Trust me, I've seen it. 

Buying a Pre-Built (or 'Pre-Fab') Home

The traditional path of buying a pre-built home is still quite popular in Canada, and if you can find a basic house frame that you can update later, then this may be the most convenient pathway for you.  Pre-fab is fast.  Building a foundation for the home is takes some time.  

Often the pre-fab companies can do 100% of the build, including foundation, for a higher price than if you were to sub-contract all of the jobs individually.  The advantage of getting the builders to take over the project is that you don't have to.  

Popular options in our area include Canada Builds, Canadian Timber, Royal Homes and Guildcrest Homes

Some pre-fab builders are getting into the Tiny House movement.  This Toronto pre-fab company  went totally viral with their tiny home.

The Factory Built Home

If you have a plot of land but you do not necessarily need a fully customized house, a factory built home is an incredible option.  They're actually becoming really popular and are shedding their boring reputation

According to the Canadian Manufactured Housing Institute, Canada has around 13,000 factory built single family homes that are built every year. The factory built home has a framework that is already put together, and once the materials get to the construction site, the home can be assembled in a matter of days!

Factory build homes can look really great.  They don't have to be cosmetically boring.  

DIY Home Kits

So these are interesting.  DIY Home Kits are unassembled homes in a box that you put together.  They've been around since the 1970s and they are the most hands-on of the options.  If you've got some pre-existing skills, these can be extremely cheap.  I like this guide from ReThink Rural

There you have it.  Doors are open for vacant land buyers and your options are more plentiful than you thought. 



Notes on how to buy a cottage in rural Ontario from Sharon White Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage

Notes on how to buy a cottage in rural Ontario from Sharon White Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage

Our little corner of Ontario has beautiful lake-spotted landscapes, a growing artisan culture of local food production and appealing recreational options for all kinds of families, travelers and people looking for a rest.  We are open to new seasonal and recreational property owners who enjoy the fishing, hunting and clean air of country living.  Here are some of the best tips for starting the search for your cottage dreams in one of the cleanest, greenest places on earth.

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Aging in the Country: A Guide to Safe, Accessible, Fitting and Easy Aging in Your Home

Aging in the Country: A Guide to Safe, Accessible, Fitting and Easy Aging in Your Home

A house is the most significant purchase you'll ever make in your life. 

So you probably want to be able to stay there for quite some time.  And you probably want to avoid going into a retirement home until absolutely necessary. 

But how do you make sure that your house - and the community where your house is located - are prepared for ageing?

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Welcome to the Country

Welcome to the Country!

The Welcome to the Country blog series is a seven part review of some really essential ideas about rural real estate in Canada.    

Wayne and I are have been in business in rural Ontario since 1989 and we have sold thousands of country properties to people from urban areas all around the world.  The challenges of the transition are real but, in our experience, are so worth the effort. 

There major draws to rural living in Canada include:

Brilliant landscapes enmeshed in a natural world.  The northern lights are visible in October from most properties because our skies are relatively pollution-free.  Our lakes have excellent fishing and, just last week, I met a fisherman from Virginia at the Eagle’s Nest Restaurant who said he has been coming to Bancroft to fish for 40 years. 

A truly low cost of living.  We aren't far enough north to run into food access problems but far enough that we aren’t part of Toronto’s urban sprawl.  Property prices are a far cry from even those in more Southern areas like Peterborough and Barrie.  And coffee is just a little over a buck. 

A sense of community.  We have been so fortunate to have people move to Bancroft from all over the world.  They bring with them their talents and their time for community initiatives, like the Art Gallery and the Summer Theatre.  As a born-and-raised Bancroft person, I see the ways in which our town benefits from a mix of old and new.  A client who moved to Bancroft with his wife while in their early 60s remarked, “Everyone here cares about who you are, not your career or what you’ve accomplished.  It’s very refreshing.”  One of my favourite new places in town is “This is a Place for the Arts.”  It is a shared workspace and gallery.  The selection of paintings, photography and sculptures is clean, bright and so alive with the spirit of rural Canada.  We are so blessed to have them, and I would like to publicly thank the group of artists who founded the centre.  

Access to the essentials.  We live in one of Canada’s wealthiest provinces.  Like any large country with rural populations, ensuring that every person has fair access to health care, government programs, education, environmental protections and legal representation is difficult.  I am so proud of what our town has accomplished in maintaining access to these resources despite a changing, and aging, demographic.  Our population quintuples in the summer and our tiny town meets the demands every year.  Rural Canadians are used to these mighty efforts and newcomers will soon find that they also get along quite well. 

Our market research indicates that there are six groups of people moving to rural Canada. 

They share a respect for the natural world, an interest in cutting out the noise of urban life and a desire for affordable living.  These groups are:

  • New Canadians:  People coming from India, Pakistan and China, in particular, are increasingly settling in the country.  The properties are affordable and there are real business opportunities, especially in franchising.  This is a really important source of diversity which absolutely enriches the fabric of our town.  My experience with clients who are new to Canada have always been positive.  I feel myself beaming with pride whenever I get to show off our country. 
Back Row Left to Right : Dipika (Deepa) Shaw, Ravi Shaw, Sarah Vance with her youngest daughter Laura Vance, Sukhan Bains, Avneet Bains, Deepu Singh Verma, Alok Verma   Middle: Tasha Shaw and Riya Shaw (twin daughters of Ravi and Deepa)   Bottom: Suneet Bains, Lily Vance, Clara Vance, Yash Bains   from  living life in the slow lane  by pradip rodrigues

Back Row Left to Right : Dipika (Deepa) Shaw, Ravi Shaw, Sarah Vance with her youngest daughter Laura Vance, Sukhan Bains, Avneet Bains, Deepu Singh Verma, Alok Verma
Middle: Tasha Shaw and Riya Shaw (twin daughters of Ravi and Deepa) Bottom: Suneet Bains, Lily Vance, Clara Vance, Yash Bains from living life in the slow lane by pradip rodrigues


  • Retirees:  With longer life expectancies, retirement savings must be stretched.  There is little better way to do this than to reduce the carrying costs of a mortgage.  With our excellent hospital, our well-ploughed roads and our abundance of one-storey homes, this is a place where aging well is a real option. 
two of my special clients, john and carol kirby.  john and carol have given back so much of their time and attention to bancroft since moving here 12 years ago. 

two of my special clients, john and carol kirby.  john and carol have given back so much of their time and attention to bancroft since moving here 12 years ago. 


  • Minimalists and Live-Off-The-Landers:  People keen to live differently.  They make sustainable houses or micro-houses.  They adopt systems to minimize waste and don’t collect objects because they’ve got nowhere to keep them.  They can grow and create and that's what life is about for this community.  Also, their cost of living is so low that sometimes they don’t need to work in a traditional job.  They can grow their own sustenance and bring with them a great respect for our shared world.  

  • Remote Workers:  My brother-in-law, Paul, was one of the earliest remote workers in the area.  Paul works for a technology firm in the GTA but has a completely decked out office that allows him to be a valuable asset to his team with a view of the lake.  It has worked out really well for Paul and his family and, increasingly, people are finding that their work can be done from anywhere even if they’re not consultants or independent contractors. 


  • Essential Industry Workers: People in nursing, medicine, engineering, law and paramedicine.  The situation for teachers is more complex, as it is everywhere in Ontario, so there are less opportunities in education in our region.  Positions do still exist in the far north and will also evolve as the tail end of the baby boomers retire.  The job market for these essential professions in rural areas is relatively stable so a reliable income in a beautiful area attracts a lot of mid-career professionals.  

  • Retournees:  This group consists of people who were raised in Bancroft but left to go to school, travel or seek employment elsewhere.  They’ve gone off to see what's out there.  They realize that their dollar goes quite far in the rural housing market and they miss the fresh air, being able to see the stars, park without paying and empty roads.  I was one of these people and, now, so is my daughter.  

These groups represent the future of growth in our community and we are so excited to be making the kinds of improvements needed to attract new residents.  

Do you see yourself in one of these groups? 

Leave a comment below because I would love to know why you selected Bancroft and how you came to a rural life.