Light, Heat, Telephone, etc.

The cost and availability of public utilities must be verified in detail. For example:

  • Electrical service may be possible but bringing the power in from the road to the building site may cost thousands of dollars. The reliability of the local power grid is likely not to be the same in rural areas as in more developed areas. Power outages are likely to be more frequent and voltage fluctuations greater.
  • The availability of water and the cost of piping, well drilling, filtration/treatment and the general reliability of local water source must be carefully evaluated. For example, a private well may be an excellent source of water, but obtaining water rights and permission to drill a well may be a major challenge. And, the successful drilling of that well can be problematic and costly. The proximity of good quality wells on neighboring properties may be a positive indicator of the ability to install a similar well on the property in question but it is not a guarantee of success. Planning/building departments require proof of water availability prior to issuing a building permit. Trucked in water, surface spring water and rain water collection systems may not qualify for the issuance of a permit.
  • Septic systems can be a very reliable and cost effective way of sewage disposal. Septic systems are usually sized according to the number of bedrooms in a residence. Permit processes are usually handled by the county's health department. Any existing septic systems must be pumped out and inspected prior to closing on the purchase of the property. For new septic systems, a percolation test or 'perk test' must be performed and inspected by the local health department. The preexisting perk test and/or septic installation permit may or may not be a completely reliable indicator of future issuance of such permits: watch the date, the permit might have expired and the rules for such systems may have been changed.
  • Telephone line installation may also be more costly and the availability of touch tone and single line service (i.e., versus party line service) may be limited. Cellular phone service may not be as reliable as in urban areas.
  • Piped natural gas service is usually not available in rural areas.
  • Propane gas tanks (with regular refill service) are usually available in rural areas. It is also possible to bring in small portable propane gas tanks and have them refilled from nearby gas stations or other propane suppliers. Such portable tanks are usually not large enough for use with regular propane furnaces or full sized propane hot water heaters.
  • Availability of cable television and specialty services must be verified from the local television cable company.