If you’ve found the perfect plot of land for your new home, don’t sign the dotted line just yet. Undeveloped land can often times have hidden costs associated with getting utilities hooked up that may be outside of your budget. If you’ve never lived out in the country or had to purchase undeveloped property then this is an easy factor to overlook because most of us assume every property will have access to water/sewage, electricity and natural gas. However, many raw plots aren’t set up for these things yet.
Electricity: Electricity tends to be the most expensive of the utilities to consider and, ideally, you will have a co-op or neighbors willing to share expenses. If this isn’t an option, then you may find yourself having to pay the total costs to set up poles which will add thousands to your land cost. The utility company will send out an engineer to get an exact quote for you if you find this option worth it. If not, then this is likely going to be a budget deal breaker. The cost of running new utility lines heavily depends on your location and proximity to connections, but expect to budget anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 for this service.
Sewer and Water: The type of sewage system your home can use will determine a large chunk of your expenses. To figure this out, a percolation or “perc” test is conducted by a city health inspector to determine how quickly the land drains. Depending on the results, you may be able to install a simple trench style system or a far more expensive custom system.
The initial trouble with this is that the inspector can’t come out until the land is somewhat outlined and your basic design is figured out. You can get around this by putting in an offer on the property but stipulating that your offer is dependent on being able to install a normal, cheaper system.
Ask your Neighbors: It is also in your best interest to conduct some research on your own before even getting to this step by simply asking your neighbors what kind of system they have. While there is no guarantee you will be able to have the same, it may provide some good insight. You should also ask them about their experience with flooding in the area and how deep their well needed to be to access water.
Depending on your situation, setting up new utility connections can take several months to complete. Do not let this timeline dissuade you from pursuing the perfect view, on the perfect piece of land. Remember, if you’re building a log home, you’re building a home that will last for several generations and centuries to come – sometimes the best things in life take a little bit of patience and discipline.