The following sections are items that may be of special interest
Residential Site Planning
Laying out your residential home site can be tricky on rural property.
Consult an architect or land use planner for assistance. Architects are
particularly qualified to integrate your home with your property and surroundings
for pleasant country living. Some of the main pieces to the puzzle that
need to be considered:
- An accessible, fire-safe building
site with a pleasant view and solar orientation.
- Ample septic tank/leachfield area,
for the initial system and future repair, or a sewer connection.
The area should be downhill of the building site for gravity feed
if at all possible.
- A producing well separated at least
100' from the septic area or a public water connection.
- A private outdoor living area and
an outside storage area.
- A thought to wildfire safety through
vegetation reduction, access, and evacuation
As a part of your escrow, you'll receive a preliminary title report. The
report is a preview of your title insurance. It includes the legal description
of the property and discloses liens, encumbrances, and easements affecting
the property. If you've purchased your property, your title insurance policy
will contain this information. Your title company and REALTOR® can
assist you in evaluating the report. Consult a land surveyor if you need
help identifying the location of easements. Some easements can't be located
from their record description and the location must be determined by field
observation or even by interviewing the party having rights to the easement
area. Your title company can explain the coverage afforded to you by the
title insurance that will normally be issued upon close of escrow.
In the process of many land purchases the apparent property corners are
flagged and shown to the buyer. These corner monuments are usually identified
by the land owner and shown to your REALTOR®. Sometimes, a licensed
surveyor or civil engineer qualified to practice land surveying identifies
the corner markers. If you plan improvements at or adjacent to the property
line, it may be advisable to consult a land surveyor. A surveyor can also
help you evaluate your legal description and title report. A surveyor's
services can range from marking the apparent corner monuments to verifying
all of the monuments and establishing accurate points on line for fencing
or building setback measurements. A land surveyor can also assist with
related services, such as lot line adjustments. Many adjoining property
owners can benefit from agreeing to more logical boundaries between them.
Finally, a land surveyor can provide topographic mapping to assist your
If any type of agriculture is your interest, contact public agencies set
up to assist you. Typically a local U. S. Soil Conservation Service or
Resource Conservation District can assist with soil capability evaluation.
Local farm bureaus or similar organizations can help you as well. Stop
by and talk to one of your neighbors engaged in similar pursuits.
Certain parcels, usually at higher elevations, are suitable for logging.
These are generally larger parcels, perhaps 20 acres and larger. The local,
state or federal forestry service can provide you with information on timber
land and explain timber harvest plan requirements. You may also wish to
consult a local private sector forester to have your timber cruised and
to assist you in preparing a Timber Harvest Plan. Your neighbor might not
like your logging effort. Not everyone agrees that
timber is a crop like any other. A sensitive harvest plan is recommended
both for environmental protection and neighborhood serenity.
Since the influx of so many people to the rural areas, mining is not permitted
in many county zoning districts. Check with the planning department. Any
activity much beyond gold panning may require a permit from State or county.
Check with local officials. There may be a private mining organization
in the area, too, that can help you. Qualified local geologists or geotechnical
engineers can help you identify mining potential and requirements. A land
use planner can assist you in making formal applications for mining projects.
Depending on the zoning of your property and other factors, you may be
able to subdivide the property into two or more separate building sites
for sale. This may also be a way for a large family to build more than
one single family home in the same vicinity. Land divisions can be a good
strategy for estate planning, retirement investment, and just general investment.
You need the approval of the City or County to subdivide your land. Essentially,
they will make you prove that your new lots meet all of the criteria in
this booklet! You may be required to complete a battery of technical tests
and studies to prove your land's capability. You may also be required to
make general improvements, such as on and off-site road improvements. Land
divisions are a complex activity nowadays. Usually, no one government source
knows all the answers. Seek consultation and assistance from a civil engineer
or land surveyor that specialize in parcel maps. They will usually provide
you with a free estimate to help you evaluate this possibility. They have
had experience working with the variety of agencies that set requirements
for land divisions.
There may be other ways that you can develop your land beyond just one
single family dwelling unit. Check with the Planning Department for the
zoning regulations which establish the permitted uses that can occur on
the property. Be sure to read the "conditional uses" too. These are higher
uses that might be allowed on the land with the granting of a use permit.
Most jurisdictions allow methods of establishing a second dwelling unit,
too. Most allow "granny units," and many jurisdictions have
housing options that do not have an age restriction. Such a second unit
might really meet your family's special needs, providing togetherness and
privacy at the same time. For a quick overview of your development potential,
consult your local planning department. Many civil engineers, land surveyors,
architects, and land use planners can assist you with this evaluation.
Sometimes a modest investment in agency requirement research and special
studies can save you plenty of time and
money in the long run.
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