Can purchasing land that does not have any improvements be even more complicated than purchasing land with water, sewer and roads already constructed? Yes!
When a developed lot is purchased, certain assumptions can be made regarding the availability of utility services and the potential for development of that property. These assumptions can be verified by contacting local building officials and utilities. This process can be much more complicated in the purchase of raw land.
The following items are among the most important considerations in the purchase of any undeveloped parcel of property.
Any assumptions or representations regarding the zoning of a particular parcel of property should be verified with the local planning jurisdiction. This is particularly critical with the advent of growth management legislation. What might have been possible in the past or what is currently being done on the property next door or appears to be logical in light of land use policies may or may not be relevant to the proposed use of a particular piece of property. Further complications may arise from the fact that land use codes are currently being revised in many locations; the legal situation is likely to continue in a state of flux.
Zoning questions and issues are generally handled by the county or municipal planning department.
A survey is the only way to determine the boundaries of a particular property. Always use the services of a licensed land surveyor and obtain a written report of the survey findings. Fences, trees, roads, power lines, and sticks with colorful 'survey tapes' may or may not indicate the boundary of a property.
Some of the natural attributes that make a piece of land particularly attractive for purchase and use are also likely to complicate the development of the property: Small Houses
Private roads, long driveways or ferry and boat access are likely to complicate regular access to the property and add cost to the construction budget. Will it be possible to bring in a premixed concrete truck and pump? Are there extra travel charges? Would it be better to use an all-weather wood structure in order to avoid the extra costs of concrete placement in an out-of-the-way location? Can you just build a roadway or does the jurisdiction require simultaneous construction of "frontage" improvements such as sidewalks, planting strips, curbs and drainage systems?
The cost and availability of public utilities must be verified in detail. For example:
For those wishing to be completely independent of utility grids, oil and gas companies, etc., there are some fairly reliable systems on the market for the adventurous and creative property owner. Few of these systems are fool proof and most are harder to use than the city-slicker's ability to call his or her local utility company and demand service at all hours of the day or night. These alternative systems include:
Other alternative systems (some even more exotic than the ones listed above) are also available. All such systems require extensive investigation and careful assessment of the potential benefits and shortcomings.