Location, Location, Location is always the mantra when purchasing a building site. Ski area access, views, and water make a lot more desire able.But, like the Rolling Stones song, you can't always get what you want. Many of the good ones are taken in a resort community, and the ones that are left, most likely have issues that can be overcome with a realistic budget and proper planning, but will take more work and money to develop.
High country resort area land has a unique set of challenges including but not limited to:
1. Steepness or Slope...anything over 30% grade is almost impossible to get an approved residential building permit. Need for additional excavation, fill dirt, retaining wall and specially engineered foundation walls can add to site development cost and create design challenges on any steep lot.
2. Access to Utilities, Water and Sewer. The developmental cost of individual parcels can very greatly from site to site even within the same neighborhood. Having a power transformer nearby is helpful as the power company charges by the linear foot to bring electricity to the building site.
a. Do you need a septic? Soils reports will determine the design and cost which can rage form $20,000-$50,000. Tap fees in resort communities can vary for a 3 bedroom home from as little as $12,000 to as much as $50,000 if there are inclusion fees, line extension fees and other costs in the municipality.
b. City water vs. well can also vary. Depth and water quality can may vary greatly across different geographic regions. Be prepared for approx. $12,000 for a standard 200 foot depth well, more if it needs to go deeper or be steel lined. Make sure the lot is big enough for you to keep the sewer and well 100 feet apart. Per code.
Expect to budget another $5-10,000 on a water purification system if you water quality has sulphur, iron or other minerals in it. Colorado has mineral rich soil can affect your water quality
3. Building for the Neighborhood. You don't want to be the most or least expensive home in the neighborhood or you wont get a favorable bank appraisal for your construction loan. Be sure you realtor has a clear idea of the home size and quality you wish to build as you find neighborhoods with comparable homes. Some HOA will have minimum and maximum requirements. Know before you buy.
4. Wetlands, Sun & Seasons affect not only the livability of a lot, but also the building envelope, how big the footprint can be, and where on the lot you can build. Wetland delineation may be required by the Building & Planning Department & Army Corps of engineers, and can add expense and months to your project.
Lots at higher elevation, over 10,000 feet, or north facing land can have longer winters and shorter building season. That's why ski areas are built north facing! The ground needs to be dry to bring in heavy equipment for excavation. If there is still snow in June, it makes it difficult to get the home dried in before its starts snowing again in the fall, and may add additional expense for temp heat and snow removal during the project build. This will also mean more maintenance in snow plowing etc. While you own the home.
5. Work with an experienced Realtor. A good local Real Estate professional will save you money in the long run if they find out the history of the lot, secure topos, research utilities, and give you the comps for homes in the area prior to your lot purchase. Vacant land is not something you want to purchase without professional advice or assistance. Interview builders early in the process to find a General Contractor you trust to preview a building site for suitability for the kind of home you wish to build and any hidden costs that he will recognize from experience. The least expensive lot is not always a good deal. Don't be caught owning property you can't afford to develop.
Posted on 06/02/2016 at 09:35 AM