After participating in more than $ 50,000,000.00 (fifty million dollars) in land sales, I have learned that buying land that already has utilities installed is one of the best purchases you can make. In my experience, less than 5% of the vacant land available has utilities already installed. Plus, installing utilities is one of the biggest expenses you’ll pay to develop vacant lots. Often times, the cost of installing utilities can exceed the purchase price of the land! Seriously. Especially if you have problems. Experience has shown that it will often be more prudent to buy vacant land with utilities installed, even if it costs more than the next parcel of land.
Finding a vacant lot with utilities already in place is a gold mine. The value of public services is enormous! From start to finish, the installation of utilities generally costs between $ 35,000 and $ 50,000. That is only for a residence or structure. Your life will be a lot easier if you can find a wasteland with this upgrade. Applying for and obtaining permits for utilities is time consuming and expensive. Also, if you must connect 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 a separate well. It is rare, but possible, to be allowed to drink water from a stream or spring. There are benefits to both systems. The most important thing is to check the health of the water source. Many well systems will need to filter salts, bacteria, etc. Always ask neighbors with existing wells how their water system is set up and what problems they face. Also ask the neighbors how deep their well is. If you use the Internet and go to the site of your state Department of Ecology, you can usually get information about wells in the area with an address. This is a great resource used by all professionals on earth. We recommend and may be necessary for a laboratory service to test the water. Look in the phone book for “water tests.” Pure, pleasant water from a freestanding well can be the healthiest and best tasting water you can drink. The systems of large water companies tend to taste very consistent and are healthy. But usually there will be additives required by law, such as fluoride. Drawing water from a stream leaves you vulnerable to anything that is deposited upstream. You may also have trouble getting enough water pressure to meet your family’s needs.
2. Power. Will you get it off the local “network” or will you produce your own? Connecting with the local power company is usually easy and straightforward. Calculating costs can be very difficult. Finding a neighbor who has recently connected is often a great resource. Most power companies will give you a rough quote for the installation. Usually this will be for your property line only. Expect more costs to finish the connection to your home and / or store / barn. There are very specific installation requirements. Will your energy run above or below ground? How many transformers will be needed? Is the area known for blackouts or brownouts? Do you need to be prepared with a secondary power source like a generator? Installing a good wood stove system is highly recommended. If there is a power outage, you may still have heat and a cooking source. We recommend installing a wood stove instead of a pellet stove in areas known for blackouts. Without power, your pellet stove will not work.
Many of you will contemplate and may decide to use alternative energy sources such as solar and / or wind energy. Excellent! But be sure to get expert advice from someone with a lot of experience. Most wind generation systems do not provide enough power to run a typical home. Solar energy can supply enough power for a typical home. Sometimes even providing enough to resell to the local power company.
You will also need a battery storage system. Make sure to lock down and secure your power system as it has recently become a preferred target for thieves. Many families who operate an alternative energy system say that the system will take many years to pay for itself.
You may need to plan for 120-240-480 volts. Total amperage requirements should be estimated, prior to construction, to avoid additional costs and problems.
3. Sewer. You will connect to the private county, city, or community sewer system or install your own septic system. You should leave enough room for a septic system in place. You will not be able to drive or build in this area. You will always be asked to leave room for your well system and a buffer area. The costs to install your own septic system will generally exceed connecting to a local sewer system. However, the cost and low fees to operate a freestanding septic system are usually very low compared to paying a monthly sewer fee. Again, we recommend that you ask your neighbors what types of systems they use. Who designed and / or installed your systems? Gravity systems are increasingly rare and are the least expensive to install. Two tank pressure systems are mid-range cost. Mound or sand filter systems are the most expensive. A basic septic system costs $ 8,000 and up. The most expensive, like a mound system, can easily exceed $ 20,000. Alas! There are very good and bad septic designers. Getting advice from your local health department is a good idea. You know who the best in the area is. If a property already has a registered septic design, that’s a huge plus. Even an outdated septic design is valuable. You can usually use that expired septic design, perhaps with a slight change for a reasonable fee. There will already be a registered perc test or you will have to do one. 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 floor evaluation for you at a very reasonable cost. You should check out the new septic systems that use some wastewater for irrigation. There are some brilliant designs available. You will also save money.
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