What is the best way to find terrains?


by Riccelly Lacerda



After reading this material you will learn or improve your knowledge of how to conduct a terrain survey, a very important point for those who want to undertake construction work.

How important is the choice of terrain in the incorporation process?

The terrain is one of the inputs with the greatest impact when it comes to the execution of a real estate project. Depending on the land and its characteristics this can give you more or less costs in addition to facilitating the sale of the property when it has a good location.

How do I choose the best terrain?

 Analyzing all the positives and negatives of the land and deciding which one will be the best choice requires a lot of attention and care. Some aspects and characteristics must be taken into account when choosing the terrain, such as:


Topography is one of the items that most influences the cost of construction. The greater the slope of the terrain, the greater the expenses with earthmoving, foundations, and even retaining walls. That is why, if you have to choose between upslope, downslope and flat terrains, try to opt for the latter option.


There is a maxim of property sales in which it is said that real estate is just LOCATION, LOCATION, AND LOCATION.


Some aspects must be taken into account such as the services you want to find nearby (schools, universities, supermarkets, pharmacies, shopping malls, convenience stores, parks, shops, banks, hospitals, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, public transport, among others) as well as others that you want to be away from (cemeteries, prisons, treatment plants, among others).


An important factor in relation to location is the issue of SECURITY. It is always important to know in advance if there have been frequent robberies and thefts in the area in which it is located, if the area is well lit and if there has been vandalism.


Another fundamental point is the location of the land on the block. Whether it is on the corner or not, what is the position of the terrain (northern, southern, eastern, and western), factors that influence natural lighting and ventilation.


An observation is worth highlighting: analyze well if the intended area is free from floods and inundations.

Current legislation:

Generally, each municipality has specific legislation regarding the zoning law. This divides cities into areas or regions (residential, commercial, industrial) determining what can or cannot be built within the proper rules for land use and occupation.

It is worth mentioning the cases of land located within gated communities. Check the conditions and rules imposed by the community before the purchase.

Type of soil:

Soil typology is another factor to be analyzed. Depending on the type, this may increase the value of the execution of your project.

In the case of soils with stones, it will cause difficulties in carrying out excavations of the foundation.

Land with a high groundwater table, fragile soil structure with low load capacity will increase foundation costs.




You find flat terrain, the zoning law fits the type of your project, the type of soil is suitable for the construction, good location, position and it is located in a region where there is no minimum infrastructure. Do you agree that everything went “down the drain”?

Then, in the terrain survey, observe the available infrastructure, among the points to note, here are some:

  •     Asphalt;
  •     Garbage collection;
  •     Street lighting;
  •     Water and sewage network;
  •     Electricity;
  •     Phone and internet connections;
  •     Leisure area (parks, squares).


If the land is in a gated community, see also if it has:


  •     Reception;
  •     Pool;
  •     Community hall;
  •     Gourmet space;
  •     Sports court;
  •     Playground.

Terrain position:

Solar orientation will directly impact the issue of lighting and thermal comfort of your project. So, it is good to stay on top of how it will interfere with your enterprise:                         

  •   Facing south: no direct sunlight;
  •   Facing north: receives more light during the day;
  •   Facing east: receives the morning sunlight;
  •   Facing west: receives the afternoon sunlight;

Calm down, this does not imply that you will not be able to acquire land in a Northern position, for example. It is preferable, repeating PREFERABLE, to have land in the southern or eastern position, but if you did not choose one of these, do not worry, a good architect will find the best solution.




Yes, I have purposely left this item for one of the last, as it is useless to have all the other items positively attested if there is no capital available for the acquisition of the land.

It is true that there is no formula for determining the price per square meter (price/m2), as it varies according to some aspects, such as those listed above. However, among them there are two that deserve to be highlighted:

Location: many point this as the characteristic that most influences the price. Lots close to the central areas or that provide more services nearby tend to carry a higher value;

Infrastructure: having access to the services that we list for you in this item also greatly influence the price.




Having analyzed all the items above and all aspects having been answered positively, it is time to verify all the documentation of the land and the suitability of the owner. At least 3 documents must be analyzed:

  •      Twenty-year Certificate: informs everything that has happened to the land in the last 20 years related to the owners and dividends;
  •      Negative certificate of debts: informs if there are no pending issues of the current owner with the governmental agencies;
  •      Allotment plan: informs the types of constructions that can be carried out, required retreats, and other requirements;


All ok, to finalize the purchase you will need the following documents to put it under your name at the competent Property Registry Office:

  •     Purchase and sale agreement contract;
  •     Deed registration;
  •     Proof of payment of the Property Transfer Tax (ITBI);

Thus, we have previously listed all the aspects and characteristics necessary for choosing the best terrain that fits within the standards required for your entrepreneurship.

Below we will show you some tools that will facilitate the search for your research on terrain. They are:


Google Maps

This tool, in addition to its easy use and availability (on smartphones, computers, among others), allows the location of a certain area, the services available (supermarkets, schools, gyms, hospitals, restaurants, bus stops, among others), observing the construction standard of the area, the infrastructure, without the need to travel to it until now.

When entering Google Maps, you will select the area or region you want to search and it will show the main services available nearby. By giving a “click” on the little figure that is at the bottom right of the screen (Google Street View) and pressing the mouse button down after the click, you will go to the point of the location of your entrepreneurship or wherever you want to analyze and, after that, release the mouse button.

Doing so, you will be able to view the buildings that are found around the chosen location.

To change the screen and go to the Satellite, just use your mouse to click on the lower left corner.















It is also worth mentioning in Maps the “Your Places” function, where it shows some predetermined locations.


Google Earth:

Google Earth also performs the search on terrains, you just need to add the data referring to its location and it will indicate the exact location in addition to many other functions that you can make use of when employing it.


Another option is to learn the measurement of a certain area found on the map. Go to add polygon (top center of the screen), click on the desired places to know the area and fill in the data in the “open window”.


EEmovel: João Pessoa/PB



First of all, the data available on the screen (type of business, value, neighborhood, among others) will be filled in, giving more direction to your research. After that, EEmovel will direct you to the chosen area and then you will be able to start your search. Select the chosen areas by clicking on each one, after that click on the APPLY button (bottom right of the screen) thus filtering the chosen option.


Thus, the options available in that initially selected region will appear.





If you want more options, just remove the restrictions initially imposed on the filters (value, type, among others).





Note that at the top of the screen it indicates that in the chosen search region you have 2,503 opportunities to choose for the type of search you have selected. From there on, you can click on the statistics button and you will have access to data such as location by neighborhood of the number of properties, average value per land and per square meter (m2).




Clicking on “View Properties” (previous figure), it will show the available options.





Clicking with the mouse on the option “View ad” (where the little mouse is) will open directly on the property’s sale site, making it possible to observe the standards of competitors and thus obtain better information that may be used in your enterprise.





You can also Create Alert, so that if any new property in the desired region become available, EEmovel will warn you.






Remembering that you have to pay to use this tool.

How to carry out the enterprise development process?

By using a tool called Lucidchart. It will show the entire mapping of the development process of the enterprise.

Explaining it in an objective way, a division of stages and substages of the development process of the enterprise is carried out as well as the existing interconnections between them, as shown in the next image.


Through observation, it is clear that the terrain survey is the second to be analyzed, right after the initial strategy adopted. In the terrain survey, some aspects must be considered (topography, area, price, infrastructure, location, position of the land, type of soil, documentation, current legislation, among others) of which we highlight the main ones (location, area, and price) but without ever letting go of the other features and aspects.

Focusing on terrain research, it is important to observe both the previous steps and their links with the terrain survey as well as the links between the items in this step and the ones which were previously shown.

GVS: General value of sales and IRR: Internal Rate of Return

So, according to the market niche defined in the strategy, we will define a certain location, that is, the one that best meets the expectations adopted for that market niche. Once the location is defined, the area that meets all the characteristics and aspects of the project to be executed is sought.

Below it is being shown that, according to the amount made available, the price of the land that you wish to purchase will be determined. In order to get an idea, this price should be between 10 and 30% of the total estimated sales value of all units of the project. For the general analysis of the development process, just go through the steps and perform the interconnections as shown in the previous image.

Management analysis of a development company:

With the following image developed by Lucidchart, we have the management areas of a development company and where you can see the complexity of a real-estate development company management.

In highlight, the capture of terrains, belonging to the commercial area of management.

How to look for terrains:

  •      Real estate portals:
  •      Partner real-estate agencies;
  •      Autonomous Brokers (land specialists);
  •      Consolidated real-estate data systems:

For a better organization and ease when comparing the terrains listed in your research, it is good to create a spreadsheet containing the data for each of the chosen lands. Example:


With all the data filled in, it will greatly facilitate your choice of the best option of land that suits the needs, characteristics, and aspects of your enterprise.

About Riccelly Farias de Lacerda:
Civil Engineer, CEO – Bloco Construções, Specialist in Planning and Construction, Manager of Civil Construction Projects, Planning Consultant, Specialist in Integrated Projects in Bim (3D;4D;5D) and VDC (Visual Design Construction) / Bim.
www.grupobloco.com.br | @bloco_construcoes
www.grupobloco.com.br  |  @bloco_construcoes

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