Getting your vacant land set up with all the utilities can be a big challenge, and often the first step involves finding which companies provide services to your area. This can be one big advantage to buying vacant land that is already part of a Homeowner’s Association. The Association is usually made up of other local landowners and is a great resource for finding out contact information for local utility companies, contractors, surveyors and well drilling companies.
There are websites such as MoveUtilities.com and ConnectUtilities.com that can help you find providers in your area, if your land already has a street address. If not, the local city and county governments can be very helpful in finding out who to contact for information about utilities. The last, and often the best, great resource, are your neighbors. If the landowner next door has recently hooked up to electricity, dug a well, or tried to get cell service, he will have the most up to date information, not only on which companies to contact, but on any problems he had or things to look out for during the process.
How To Research Utilities: Power
Power is often the first utility you will look to get onto your property. Many people in rural areas choose to generate their own power using solar panels and/or a gas generator. Wind power is also an option that is gaining in popularity. But if you want to hook into the existing power grid, you will need to find out what power company serves your local area. They can give you an approximate bid to install power to your land, which will usually be “by the pole” or “by the foot”, so how far your land is from existing power poles is a huge factor in how expensive it will be to bring power to your land. For more information, refer to the following Land University article on hooking up to the power grid.
How To Research Utilities: Water
One option for getting water is to hook up to an existing municipal water system, run by the local city, county, or private cooperative. Find out if this is possible in the area where your land is located. If your land is located within the city limits of a village, town or city, then the city government is the best place to start. If you are outside of city limits, try the county government, and they can usually point you in the right direction. If you are not close enough to hook up to a water system, then you may have to put in a well. The cost for a well varies a great deal depending on your type of soil and how deep it will need to be drilled. Many states keep a Well Log, often available online, where you can search for information about the location, ownership and construction details of wells in your area. For more information, refer to the Land University article on getting water on your property.
How To Research Utilities: Sewer/Septic
The first step is to figure out if you can hook into a municipal sewer system. This is usually only possible if you are within the city limits of a village, town or city, and the City Government will run the sewer system, usually alongside their city water service. If you can’t hook up to a municipal sewer, then you will need to install some kind of septic tank system. Allow plenty of room in your building plans for this, since most areas have large setback requirements to separate a septic tank from your water supply. For more information, refer to the Land University article on setting up a sewer or septic system.
How To Research Utilities: Telephone
The local telephone company will be able to tell you if there are land phone lines in your area, and give you an estimated cost to hook yourself into this grid. In this day and age, cell phone service is often even more important than a telephone line. More often than not, the farther you get from cities and population centers, the worse the cell service will be. Cell reception is affected by mountains and heavy trees, and gets better near highways. For more information, refer to the following Land University article on getting cell service on your vacant land.
How To Research Utilities: Gas
In most cases, you will need to be within the service area of a natural gas company in order to hook up to the natural gas lines. Find out what company services your area and give them a call to find out a cost estimate. For more information, refer to the Land University article on bringing natural gas to your land.
Bringing utilities to your vacant land is usually the greatest expense you will have in developing it, short of actually building your home, so it is important to do your research and get good estimates from your local companies. Be sure to look into energy rebates which might be available for rural communities, or for putting in sustainable energy source. For example, the USDA is currently working on several funding projects to help bring broadband, alternative energy and other smart grid technologies and water systems to rural areas.