It doesn't take long to realize that finding the right piece of property is the most important aspect of new home construction. In a development, restrictions and easements have already been sorted out, but if you are looking for a stand-alone piece of vacant land, you're on your own. Here are some of the factors you need to consider before spending your hard-earned cash on a pretty view that might be unbuildable.

THE PERC. No, we're not talking about coffee. But we are talking about percolate. If you are outside of a community, chances are that you will not be connected to city water and sewer; you will have to build a septic system for your own house. The septic system will be designed by a local civil engineer and probably approved by the county, but before the engineer knows what kind of septic you need he'll have to take a Perc Test. They will dig a big hole in the ground, fill it with water, then clock how long it takes for the water to seep into the ground. If the water drains too fast, you have too much sand. If it drains too slow, you have too much clay (or probably rock). There is an acceptable tolerance, outside of which the perc fails. If one perc fails, they dig another hole elsewhere to see if there's any improvement. Sounds simple enough, but in New Jersey you'll spend about $1000 per hole. If the land doesn't perc, you may be able to find an alternative septic system, but you can be sure it will be very problematic.