Buying Land in The Mountains

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The following article will appear in the Feb Smoke Signals. This is a new column. I did post Last months article on chasing a market


Ask a Realtor


Buying a lot to build your dream home?

    By Charlie Ragonesi



We all have dreams of owning a beautiful lot and building our dream home. Many of us find a dream home already built. But for those who start “from the ground up” here are some facts aimed at helping you keep your dream from turning into a nightmare.

First of all make sure your lot is developed. Here in Big Canoe they all are. Developed means you have some services like electricity, for example, run to the lot. 

Second, once you have a developed lot the one thing that most folks do not get is a level 3 soil test. This test is CRITICAL.. The test determines the suitability of your lot to contain a septic system. Since most lots are not on public sewer here in the mountains having a septic system is a requirement.  Rock and water, whether visible or not from the ground are the 2 things that will “fail” a lot. Failure means your lot will be deemed unbuildable by the county. In other words kiss your investment good-bye. Have this test done BEFORE you buy.

Take the following additional step. Go to your local hardware store. Buy 4 wooden stakes, like the kind they use to kill vampires, and some landscaping ribbon. Place the stakes on your lot and measure out your footprint. You should have a rectangle that is about 1500-2000 square feet in total. .The folks that do the level 3 test can to it from the site you intend to build on. Always try to have the home at a point higher than the septic system so you can use gravity to flush wastes.

Third, if you have  a specific house plan in mind take it to your local county and have them approve it for the lot. This is called a lot evaluation. Also here in Big Canoe and other communities, there are controls and guidelines so you must have approval there too.

Remember that beautiful lot high up with a great view is going to add on to your building cost when you factor in the slope of the lot along with the distance trucks have to climb with materials to get to your lot..

In the end the soil test along with the lot evaluation will cost you about 500 dollars in total. You will have to spend this money no matter what. So if you are buying an 80,000 dollar lot the minimum investment is a level 3 soil test or around 350 dollars.

Careful planning and working with an experienced mountain Realtor will help you achieve your mountain dreams and keep them from becoming mountain nightmares.



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Charlie Ragonesi All Mountain Realty Big Canoe and Mountain Blog

On line at Call at 706 579 1098

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Toula Rosebrock
Diane Turton, Realtors, Forked River, NJ - Lacey Township, NJ
Broker/Sales Associate, Realtor, Lacey Township,


Hi Charlie:

Great tips!

Buyers need to be careful when purchasing land...

Jan 11, 2010 03:00 PM #1
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Charlie Ragonesi

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