After being involved in over $50,000,000.00 (fifty million dollars) of land sales, I have learned that buying land that already has utilities installed, is one of the very best purchases you can make! In my experience, less than 5% of the vacant land available has utilities already installed. Additionally, installing utilities is one of the largest expenses you will pay to develop vacant land. Many times, the cost of installing utilities can exceed the purchase price of the land! No kidding. Especially if you run into problems. Experience has shown that often it will be wiser to buy vacant land with utilities installed, even though it costs more than the parcel of land next door.
Finding Vacant Land with utilities already installed, is a goldmine. The value of utilities is huge! Start to finish, utilities installation usually costs over $35,000 to $50,000. That’s just for one residence or structure. Your life will be so much easier if you can find Vacant Land with this improvement. Applying for and getting permits for utilities is very time consuming and expensive. Also, if you must hookup to pre-established utility systems, there will always be fees and possibly limitations or restrictions. You will have to cooperate with numerous entities. The three most common utilities are:
1. Water. You will get water from an established water company or install an independent well. It is rare, but possible, that you will be allowed to take water from a creek or spring. There are benefits to either system. Most importantly, you want to check your water source for its health. Many well systems will need filtering of salts, bacteria, etc. Always ask neighbors with existing wells how their water system is setup and what problems they face. Also ask neighbors how deep their well is? If you use the internet and go to your states Department of Ecology site, you can usually get info about the wells in the area with an address. This is a great resource that all land professionals use. We recommend and it may be required that you have the water tested by a laboratory service. Look in the phone book for “water testing”. Nice pure water from an independent well can be the best tasting and healthiest water you could ever drink. Large water company systems are usually very consistent tasting and healthy. But, there will usually be additives that are required by law, such as fluoride. Drawing water from a creek leaves you vulnerable to whatever is deposited upstream. You may also have trouble getting enough water pressure to satisfy your family’s needs.
2. Power. Will you get it from the local “grid” or produce your own. Hooking up to the local power company is usually easy and straight forward. Estimating costs can be very tough. Finding a neighbor that has hooked up recently is usually a great resource. Most power companies will give you an approximate bid to install. This will usually be only to your property line. Expect more costs to finish the hookup to your home and/or shop/barn. There are very specific installation requirements. Will your power run overhead or underground? How many transformers will be required? Is the area known for blackouts or brownouts? Do you need to be prepared with a secondary power source such as a generator? Installing a good woodstove system is highly advised. If the power is out, you can still have heat and a cooking source. We recommend you install a woodstove instead of a pellet stove in areas known for blackouts. Without power, your pellet stove will not work.
Many of you will contemplate and perhaps decide to use alternative power sources such as solar and/or wind power. Great! But be sure to get expert advice from someone with plenty of experience. Most wind generation systems do not provide enough power to run a typical home. Solar can supply enough power for a typical home. Sometimes, even providing enough to resell back to the local power company.
You will also need a battery storage system. Be sure to lock and secure your power system as this has recently become a preferred target for thieves. Many families that operate an alternative power system say that it will take many years for the system to pay for itself.
You may need to plan for 120-240-480 volts. Total amperage requirements must be estimated, prior to building, to avoid problems and extra costs.
3. Sewer. You will either hookup to the county, city, communities private sewer system or install your own septic system. You must allow for plenty of room for an on-site septic system. You will not be able to drive on or build in this area. You will always be required to allow space for your well system and a buffer area. The costs to install your own septic system will usually exceed hookup to a local sewer system. But, the cost and low fees to operate an independent septic system are usually very low compared to paying a monthly sewer fee. Again, we recommend that you ask neighbors what types of systems they use? Who designed and/or installed their systems? Gravity systems are getting rarer and are the least expensive to install. Two tank pressure systems have a midrange cost. Mound or sand filter systems are the most expensive. A basic septic system costs $8,000 and up. The most expensive, such as a mound system can easily go over $20,000. Ouch! There are very good and bad septic designers. Getting tips from the local health department is a good idea. They already know who is the best in the area. If a property already has a recorded septic design, that is a big plus. Even an expired septic design is valuable. Usually you can use that expired septic design, maybe with a slight change for a reasonable fee. There will already be a perc test on record or you will need to get one done. A perc test is a series of holes dug in the ground in a specific area that shows the condition of the soils and their ability to absorb fluids. In many areas you can get a certified septic designer to do a soils evaluation for you at a very reasonable fee. You should check into the new septic systems that use some waste water for irrigation. There are some brilliant designs available. You will also save money.
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