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  • Writer's pictureNick De Vera Jr

Everything You Need to Know About Utilities When Buying Undeveloped Vacant Land

If you've found yourself the perfect piece of vacant land for your dream home or next business venture, congratulations! However, before you can officially call the space yours and start your construction journey, there are some essential details you need to consider—utilities. Utility connections can make or break the viability of your project, so it's crucial to understand their implications. Here's a comprehensive guide on what you need to know about utilities when buying undeveloped vacant land.




The Big Four: Water, Electricity, Gas, and Sewer

Water

When buying undeveloped land, one of your top priorities should be securing a reliable water source. If the municipal water supply does not service your area, you'll need to explore alternatives. Private wells are one option, but drilling can be costly, and there's no guarantee of water quality or quantity. Consider having a water survey done, or ask neighbors about their water supply situation to understand what you're getting into.

Electricity

Access to electricity is another fundamental consideration. Check if the local utility company extends its grid to your location. If not, connecting your land to the grid can cost thousands of dollars, depending on the distance from the nearest power line. For remote locations, alternative energy sources like solar panels or wind turbines could be more practical. However, these require a significant upfront investment and may not provide the level of power you need for all purposes.

Gas

If you plan to heat your home or business with natural gas, you'll need to know whether the property is within a gas company's service area. For properties off the grid, propane is a common alternative, but you'll need space for a sizable tank and will have to arrange for regular deliveries.

Sewer

In terms of waste management, check if the land can connect to a municipal sewer system. If not, you'll need to install a septic tank, which can be expensive and requires periodic maintenance. Additionally, not all soils are suitable for septic systems, so you'll need to conduct a percolation test to ensure your land is compatible.

Internet and Phone Service

In today's connected world, access to reliable internet and phone services is almost as important as water and electricity. Rural and remote areas often have limited options, with satellite and cellular-based services being the most common. Remember to check the availability, speed, and costs of these services before purchasing the land.

The Cost Factor

The expenses associated with installing and maintaining utilities can be a significant portion of your development budget. Connecting to local utilities can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars per utility, depending on the proximity of your land to the existing infrastructure. Installing alternative solutions like wells, septic systems, or solar panels often comes with a hefty upfront cost but may be more cost-effective in the long run, depending on your circumstances.

Land Zoning and Restrictions

Before you go ahead with utility installations, ensure the land is zoned for your intended use. Some areas have strict rules about where utilities can be placed, and violating these can result in hefty fines. Additionally, certain areas may be protected, meaning you cannot build or alter the land at all. Always conduct a thorough land survey and consult local zoning laws before making a purchase.

Final Thoughts

Buying vacant land can be an exciting venture, but don't let the thrill overshadow the practicalities. Understanding utilities is key to developing a successful project without unnecessary complications or costs. Therefore, before closing the deal, ensure you've thoroughly researched all the utilities necessary for your land, including their availability, cost, and installation process.

Remember, every piece of land is unique, and what works for one might not work for another.


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