Ask The Contractors
Ask The Contractors
Question: What is involved in Building on a Vacant Lot?
There is a lot that we are considering for purchase. It is between many houses and down a private road. It does not have utilities.
This is the Question:
How much extra can I expect in permits, planning, and contracting to install water, power, and sewer?

To help answer that question, I’ve brought on Nicole Anderson from the Anderson Group at Coldwell Banker.

Nicole, you’ve heard the question that Monique has asked. What is your experience with putting in power and getting the permits for a vacant lot project? What does Monique have to look forward to in doing this process?

Every property is going to be unique so, the biggest issue is where the main lines underground are coming from. And if there is even sewer accessibility at all. Otherwise, they might have to go septic.

I like the fact that you mentioned septic

A lot of times a sewer system is non-existent in some of these areas. So you actually have to go into a septic system, which is a whole can of worms in itself because of drainage, the runoff, and where the location is. There’s a lot to that.

Does the building department give you any assistance before you purchase a vacant lot?

So, there are two ways you need to look at it. The listing agent who’s selling a lot will have access to what’s called the natural hazard disclosure and that will allow you to see if there are any major pipelines going through the property itself. That could be a good thing, and then it could be a bad thing too, depending on what type of pipe was installed.

“The most important thing is to call the city and talk to them about what is actually permitted. They are very knowledgeable. They’ll pull up the property and if the planner can’t answer your questions, they’ll go to the tax assessor.”

Nicole Anderson, Realtor

They can really break it down for you regarding how far away different utility main lines are for the vacant lot.

Setbacks, and so on. Now, in Monique’s question here, I’m not quite sure if she’s hired a contractor at this point, but it probably makes sense to already have someone lined up. They will assist you in answering these questions, as we say, go out and kick dirt on the lot to figure out where the boundaries and setbacks are, and so on.

Absolutely, absolutely. Because when you’re working with a contractor, you’ll have a strong relationship with your contractor. They’re very busy, they have a lot to think about. For example, they have to run crews, they have overhead, but they’re gonna give you so much more knowledge.

Start building that relationship before you purchase the property. It will make the whole process smoother.

I absolutely agree. Being a contractor for almost 40 years, I know that most of the people in my business bend over backward to help our clients.

Reasons to work with a Contractor

  1. They’re a great group of people, as realtors are.
  2. Contractors are there to help you and answer your questions.
  3. They live and breathe the business.
  4. The more information the client has, the better your project’s going to go.

We want your purchase of a vacant lot to be a smooth experience.

Utilities are something you don’t see or appreciate until the toilet backs up, or the power goes out.

“You want that house. You’re not looking at the two-by-fours. You only see that finished product.”

Todd Bird, Host

So, there is a lot of preliminary work that people need to expect and plan for if you’re going to buy a vacant lot. In this case, Monique is up for some challenges but I think if she listens to our advice, she’s going to get through this.

Thank you very much, Nicole, for being on with us.

Call Nicole if you have questions in the Bay Area about building a home, buying a home, or better yet even selling a home.

Is something strange going on around your home? Or, maybe you just don’t know which direction to go…

Send me your questions for I’d like to answer it right here on the air. We’ll help you get through your next project.

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