Home Building Lots: Part V

Sat, May 30, 2009

Home Building Lots

Fire hydrant in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
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  • Fire Protection: At the fire department, find out if the land is within a fire protection zone. The fire department may want a test or inspection showing if your proposed house location is close enough to a fire hydrant and the water pressure and flow available at that hydrant.  If you will have a long driveway or a private road, find out what the requirements are for fire truck access and turn-around. If the property is in a high-risk fire area, you may be required to install a residential sprinkler system, and there may be special construction or landscaping requirements to keep fires from spreading. Building departments sometimes require you to provide a letter or form from the fire department when you apply for a building permit
  • Road Maintenance: If there are any private roads not maintained by the city, county or state, there might be documents that spell out who decides what maintenance is to be done and who must pay for that. This should show up on a title report, either separately, or within the deed or CC&R’s. Sometimes road maintenance is completely voluntary and therefore only gets done by those property owners or tenants who decide to share expenses.   In that situation, you could talk to the neighbors to find out what the history of maintenance has been and what they think might occur in the future. It’s a red flag when a private road is full of deep potholes, as it shows nobody is taking enough care of it. You might find neighbors willing to join in on a legal maintenance agreement, if you were to lead the effort to organize this.
  • Shared with Neighbors: Common areas, private roads, wells, trees, hedges and fences are some of the areas and improvements shared with neighbors. Sometimes there are legal easements and maintenance agreements, which will be listed on a Title Report. If not, consider having these arrangements legally recorded at your closing. A neighbor may have an easement over your land for a utility line, road or walking access, or a structure that would otherwise be encroaching.
  • Trees: You might want to have a landscaper take a look at the trees to evaluate their health, particularly if there is a tree that could fall on the house during a storm, or if one of the main attractions of the property is its trees.
  • Garden Conditions: If you plan to garden or farm, you might want to test the soil. Also consider whether there is a garden plot that would receive enough sun and not too much wind or salt exposure.
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