Here are a few of the things that you need to take into consideration when finding property to build your new off grid or rural home. Get a realtor that is familiar with off-grid and rural properties and knows what you plan to do, will help you find the perfect property to suit your dream homestead needs.
– Does the property face South (ish)? If not, forget about passive solar home design, and prepare to spend twice as much on active solar (eg solar panels). With passive solar you heat, cool and ventilated with the sun and thermal mass (the building and materials it’s made of) and Active solar which uses solar panels and mechanical means to create heat and ventilation.
– Does the property retain all water and mineral rights? The last thing you want is a nice, strong stream that you can’t do anything with, a well that has to be shared with an irresponsible neighbor who likes to wash their car with a hose every week, or some coal company running their dozers all over the place because somewhere a few generations ago a previous land owner sold the mineral rights.
– Has it been perk tested? A piece of land that doesn’t drain well cold make it very difficult to get a septic system in place and can cost you a lot of money in repairs after heavy rains cause flooding. Your garden will have troubles too.
– What is the water source? Does it have a well or a spring? If not, how deep did the neighboring properties have to drill? You’ll want to get that checked out before signing the dotted line. An off grid property without water is almost useless for someone who wants to live there full time.
– How does the land lay? Aside from having a south-facing building site, is there a pasture area and garden area that gets plenty of sun? Is it flat, sloping, or steep? If you have “great views” that might mean that it’s steep. Homesteaders who plan on having any kind of livestock or sizeable garden should have a few acres of level land or one with a slight slope.
– What are the restrictions? I’m assuming you want to get away from things like covenants and homeowners associations because you’re looking for off grid or rural land. So the last thing you want to do is get half-way through the process, fall in love with a property, and discover that you can’t have those goats or chickens you dreamed about due to a deed restriction of some kind. Or there may be a restriction on the number of dwellings allowed, and if you want to rent out cabins you want to know if that’s okay before you invest your time and money.
– Are there any easements? Do you have to go through someone else’s property to reach your own? If so, is that stipulated in both deeds? Don’t trust a friendly handshake on this. What if the neighbor sells his property to a developer or a jerk? Get everything in writing!
– Is the road county maintained? This could come down to preference. Some might like the idea of getting “snowed in” for a few weeks, but if you have health problems and might need to get to a hospital, or don’t have enough food “stored” to get you through the winter months, a county-operated plow could mean the difference between life and death. Another possible issue may be if it is a dirt road into your property. Do you have the equipment needed to maintain it during the rainy months when erosion occurs? This is also an important factor when you need building materials delivered or if you have a large propane tank to be filled, how will large vehicles get in?
–Research, Research, Research!
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