When you are selecting land on which to build your new home, be certain to investigate the zoning for that particular area. You might fall in love with rural acreage that just happens to be zoned for agricultural or recreational purposes. Since zoning uses are not interchangeable, you would need to apply for a variance in order to build a single-family residential dwelling on the land. This can be a challenging process!
Getting approval to have the zoning changed on property requires that you first give public notice, and then request approval for a variance from the government agencies that supervise enforcement of the zoning plan. You might encounter resistance from neighbors or various local interest groups who oppose the zoning changes that would allow you to build your dream home. Your local planning department can tell you how a particular property is zoned and explain what you need to do to get a variance. Your real estate agent may be able to refer you to a local land use attorney who can guide you through the process.