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Evaluating a parcel of land for purchase

Post in 'The Green Room' started by wahoowad, Nov 17, 2006.

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  1. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2005
    Messages:
    1,405
    Loc:
    Virginia
    So I'm eyeing a small 5 acre potential home site. Nice area, close
    enough to town yet still away from the traffic and neon signage.
    Potential for a big development to pop up seems low. Lots of privacy.

    It already has a rough gravel driveway (although still needs improvement), cleared
    building site, and electric, septic and well already on property. My only
    misgiving is that about half of the land is on moderately sloping terrain.
    While I would not want to use it for buildings I'd still prefer semi-flat land
    so I can get some use out of it even if it is just walking, shed(s),
    woodpiles, etc. The homesite itself is level and has plenty of flat land for
    immediate yard, flower beds, parking and such. The land is carrying a
    premium right now that I don't think it deserves due to this sloping
    aspect.

    I'm also wondering, all things being equal, how much is having a
    driveway, cleared homesite, and utilities run adding to the price? I have
    no idea what those cost to install.

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
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    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    How steep is the slope? There may be a benefit if the house site is at the top and drains well. Some flat property can be where the water gathers and makes for damp basements, etc. Other's are fine. Worth checking on.

    Lots of variables depending on the site. But here that could easilly cost $30K and add a lot more than that to the value of the property. One thing to check is that it is all done to code and has received final approval. We have a lot nearby that they put the well too close to the road due to a misunderstanding of where to measure from for setback. Took 6 months of wrangling and paying for variance reviews before they were finally allowed to build. Also see how the soil perked for septic.
  3. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    a while back I advised you to check with your board of health about the septic and dirt under the home it should all be c documented there also the well data it dept and gallons produced
    You have to do home work what was the perk rate do that themn I can tell you what the cost of improvemnets are. a well could cost any where between
    5k to 12k a septic 5k to 40k the length of the drive way the amoint of gravel base how treed the c lot was is it stumped. In New England we are used to hills and slopes it adds characture to the land explain the slope. Is the septic for a 2 3 or 4 bedroom home? is the electric 200 amp capable? lot of questions you should know before taking a plunge
  4. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    Loc:
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    Good points Elk, BeGreen. Thanks!
  5. johnsopi

    johnsopi Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2006
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    MD near DE&PA;
    Well and sceptic in MD 2yrs ago 8,000 for both. I cleared the lot running electric was 500. Land around have gone way up. Over 100k for an acre lot.
  6. jtcedinburgh

    jtcedinburgh New Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Fife Riviera, Scotland
    Heh, heh, how I laughed when I read that. Round these parts, a 5 acre plot would be considered huge, and I reckon would go for something in the order of £750,000 ($1.3m)+ with planning permission, though a bit less without.

    Maybe I should move. You US lot don't know how lucky you are in regard to land-for-the-buck!
  7. smirnov3

    smirnov3 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2006
    Messages:
    431
    Loc:
    Eastern Ma
    If the slope is buildable, you can make your home Earth sheltered. great for insulation.

    And it's south facing, you can get passive solar too :)
  8. Jay H

    Jay H New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
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    NJ
    Since this is a "green" forum, I would do what Anton suggests, try to see if the slope or homesite you plan on building on has a good south facing slope. In fact, it's a good time to learn/research your states Clean Energy Laws and perhaps Solar laws. Passive solar is the best way to go, inexpensive and free energy without the initial outlay of $$$ that active solar gives, but you should check your state's SREC laws and stuff, with the high energy costs, more people are going renewable solar and that means more people fighting for the same rebate pool which means less money for everybody, but it's still possibly a good situation and it's a good idea.

    Barring solar, you can look at things like geothermal which requires pipes run underground and a heat pump...

    Jay
  9. Rhone

    Rhone Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2005
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    824
    I'm personally not a fan of geothermal though I certainly agree with the passive & I like active solar as well. Geothermal is practical for people in cooling dominated climates. They probably cost more than people think. I understand cost is reduced if you have it done with the building of your house but their high costs are most offset in summer when you can use it to cool your house as the heat created from doing such can be used to heat your domestic hot water performing double-duty and working for your payback years. In winter, as it removes the cold from your house, the cold can't be used for anything and gets wasted into the ground so, in heating mode it's only performing single-duty and doesn't work as fast towards your payback years. Virginia (Richmond) is 4 days of heating to 1 day of cooling. My quote for geothermal, and for my ranch, retrofitting, and digging up was $24,000 and estimated yearly cost of around $600 to run. I live in an area for every 15 days of heating, we have 1 day of cooling so it's particularly bad here. Doing a payback calculation, came to hundreds of years for me, plus they recommended I use fossil fuel for my hot water and skip the cooling feature of it in my area. Yikes.

    I agree with Anton and Jay, solar is the way especially with todays houses and I'm a fan of active solar as well, the in-laws have it since 1983 and it's still going strong. It's given them almost 100% of their hot water, and when it's cloudy for 3+ days or extremely cold they burn wood. They go through 1/2 a cord a year but they light a fire when their house starts to get down to 75F which gives them a reason to light. I'd think they could do with 1/8 - 1/4 cord of wood if they waited until their house dropped to around 70F before deciding it was time to start a fire. They live in the middle of New England.
  10. kevinmoelk

    kevinmoelk New Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    730
    Loc:
    Wapato WA, in the Yakima Valley of Central WA
    There are several numerous books on the subject of buying land. I was tyring to find a book on my shelves, but can't seem to locate it right now. I think it's called "Buying land in the country" written by Les Sher?

    In any case, spend $30 bucks and buy a good book which will be able to provide much greater detail what I'm assuming any one person on any forum could provide. It has been a few years since I read the book, but I remember it answered all sorts of questions for me. It also made me realize just how complex buying land can be.

    Also, I'd suggest contacting a lawyer who specializes in real estate transactions. A lot of cost up front, but could potentially save you thousands, or save you from buying the wrong property. If not a lawyer, at least a real estate agent who specializes in land deals. Good luck. I spent 5 years looking for my place.

    -Kevin
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