Although it may seem simple to buy land for future development (after all, there is no structure on it, right?). However, buying land for development in the future can actually be more complex because today’s planning departments are taking a very proactive approach to smart growth. Therefore, there are more rules around what you can do with land than there have been in the past.
In most cases we have a feasibility period which allows you to begin your investigation. Each piece of land is unique, but understanding what is required up front will help manage your time during the feasibility period.
SEWER OR SEPTIC? – If you are buying an infill lot in a city or building with a builder in a development close to town, a sewer line may be available for you to hook into. But how much does it cost to do that and what does that entail? If you cannot hook up to a sewer system, can you get a septic system installed on the property?
WATER – If sewer is available on the property, is water? It may not be available in the outlying areas. Leave time to determine if the land has enough groundwater for a well or if a rainwater collection system is allowed and will provide enough water.
EASEMENTS – Easements provide access to properties. When you are buying land, it is important that you understand the easements that will continue to be granted to others on your property (such as neighboring properties, utilities, etc.) as well as the easements that you require to enter and exit your property. You also need to have an understanding of the maintenance rules when it comes to the roads.
BUILDING RESTRICTIONS – If the land is located in an area with CC&Rs (Codes, Covenants, and Restrictions), there may be rules regarding what you can do with your land and what can be built. If you dream of building a 5,000 square foot retreat along with several outbuildings for your classic collectable vehicles, you may or may not be able to build that depending on the local rules and restrictions.
ZONING – Can you build a house or is only recreation allowed? How many homes can be built? Is it sub-dividable? Pay attention to the county’s long-term land use plans and scheduled road additions as these are indicators of future growth and possibly future zoning.
WETLANDS – Wetlands means drainage, water rights, and animals – all of which have rules and parameters to follow and can affect buildability. Ask if there has been a wetland study.
FLOODING – You will need to determine whether or not flood insurance is needed.
CLIFFS, HILLS, AND BLUFFS – Our area includes bluffs with amazing views or high-bank Columbia River views. If your future home will be located on a bluff or in front of a hillside, I recommend having a Geo-Tech do soil testing to make sure you can build what you envision.
There is a lot to consider but the reward of building exactly what you want exactly where you want can be a compelling reason to go through this process. I look forward to talking through what you might need and connecting you with professionals.