Note: This is the first post of a series to help future homeowners consider many different factors before buying and/or building.
Starting or considering to build a log cabin, whether it be restoring an antique or constructing a kit, is a big decision, and not one to take lightly, of course. This new home is not only your dream home, your escape from the world, but (and here’s the reality check) it’s going to take some weight out of your wallet. Don’t be scared though! With the right financial planning and budgeting, your dream home can become a reality. Furthermore, considering all aspects of the planning and building process will ensure you get the smartest bang for your buck.
So what should you consider when planning for your log home?
- Land and Location
Let’s talk about the first consideration – land and location.
It’s not always as simple as finding the perfect piece of land, picking out the perfect house site, and (poof!) starting construction. Not only do you need to make sure the land will support a dwelling, but you need to make sure the land will support YOUR dwelling.
Thought #1: GET THE SEPTIC SCOOP
The first thing any landowner should do before building is hire a specialist to conduct a “perk,” or percolation, test. A perk test is a process in which a piece of land is tested to see how the water percolates, or moves through the soil. Onsite Soil Evaluators and Professional Soil Scientists visit the land and conduct tests that will tell them whether the land will support a septic system, or, more specifically, what type of septic system a piece of property will require – a standard gravity-fed septic system or an alternative septic system.
To conduct a perk test, ask your local health department about your area’s specific requirements – who can conduct the tests, how many holes can they dig, depth of the holes, required absorption rates, and when these tests can be conducted. Once you gather all the information on requirements, you can then proceed by calling the appropriate professional to actually conduct the test.
Thought #2: INGRESS AND EGRESS
A property’s ingress and egress has to do with the entrances and exits to a property. This sometimes isn’t a big concern for future homeowners; however it’s definitely something that should be checked out. Local government may sometimes want to limit the amount of access points on a road whether it be for safety and traffic flow reasons or otherwise. In such a case, regulations may prevent homeowners from the amount of entry ways onto a nearby highway or the location of those entry ways. In addition, if your property is a landlocked property, or if there is another property between your property and the main highway, you will need an easement so you can have legal passageway to access your land through your neighbor’s parcel. This point also pertains to utilities, such as municipal water/sewer, electric, and phone. There’s nothing worse than starting a project only to find out the neighbor will not allow you to access electric through their property.
Thought #3: MAKE SURE YOUR FINAL HOUSE DESIGN WILL FIT YOUR PROPERTY
Security and privacy are among the top considerations when choosing the perfect piece of property and/or house site. There is nothing worse than choosing what you believe to be the “hallelujah” spot only to begin building and realizing “Hmmm…. My porch isn’t going to sit behind that tree and have the privacy and shade like I thought it would…” Double check your measurements and communicate your plans openly and effectively with your builder so everyone is on the same page and you are certain your overall plans will, in fact, fit your property in the exact way you envision.
Thought #4: TALK TO THOSE WHO CAME BEFORE YOU
Of course, the items mentioned above are just a few of the many things to consider when choosing land and location. The other vital piece of advice is: Talk to your friends! Talk to friends who have built or who have renovated their home. Talk to your real estate agent. Talk to neighbors. Ask anyone around you what they would have done differently, what they wish they would’ve considered, or what you may have forgotten. After all, two (or twelve!) heads are better than one!