Reply To: Building an off-grid Homestead, what comes forst, second, etc?

  • Uncle-Joe

    February 25, 2024 at 8:56 pm

    Mr. Jeremy:

    Good for you! You’ve made the decision to “escape” to freedom, such as it is. Remember: once you buy land, or more precisely, purchase title to a parcel of land, “it” now “owns” you. You are responsible for it and how you “use and enjoy” it.

    I’ve read the prior answers to your request, and they are all good. Here, however, is an opinion from a land-surveying, engineering and land-development point of view from one who has “been there, done that and got the t-shirt”. (Yes, we had t-shirts made.) I spent over 18 years working for a land surveying and engineering firm, so I’ve seen most of the ways people can do it wrong.

    First, since you apparently haven’t acquired the land yet, is to “recon” where you want to live. If you see a parcel of land that looks promising, check out who is living around you. Are they “friendly”? How will they take to an “outsider” moving into the area? (VERY important: is there a “hog farm withing three miles of the parcel? NOTHING can prepare you for the “aromas” emanating from a porcine population.) We almost bought land that was sown slope and down “prevailing” wind from the tailings pond of a lead/zinc. mine.

    Second, make sure you have either the funds to buy the land or that you have a secure income to keep up the payments. The same goes for the home you’ll be living in. Are you a “lone wolf”, or does your “significant other” fully and unequivocally agree with this endeavor? We were fortunate to have sold our home of 20 years to be able to afford the whole “package” of the driveway, lot preparation, building, well, generator and a few amenities. (I sold off most of my 401K to purchase the parcel outright.) We did, of course, go to see the land and its surrounding properties first. We were WAY fortunate to meet our neighbor to the north, and, since his family lived in that valley for over 250 years, he knew everything and everyone for miles around. As an added blessing, he also ran a small excavation company, so our driveway and lot preparation were a “snap”.

    Third, make sure you get a registered land survey of the property AND a finite title search. That will show you if there are any easements of access rights-of-way that legally encumber the property. Also, check if a neighbor has been crossing the property or somehow otherwise using a portion of it so as to create an “adverse usage” situation, which can create a “land use feud” that can turn a paradise into a living hell overnight. The property we bought was “land-locked”, with no direct access from the road. The title search showed that we had a 40-foot-wide access easement across the property between ours and the road. (We eventually bought that land, but to buy it, we paid nearly half the amount we paid for our original 6.74 acres for the 1.45-acre lot.)

    Fourth, have a well-driller check the property as to where the well should be drilled. This will give you a good idea where you will want to have the driveway go and where you want to build your “castle”. In western North Carolina where we live, the 410-foot-deep well cost us $12,500 for the drilling, the pump and the connection to the house. The septic cost around $5,000. The contractor was not only on the list from the “BBB” but was highly recommended by said neighbor to the north.

    Fifth, be very careful as to what your “castle” will cost and how it will serve you as years go by. Even being only six steps up to the door, my arthritic knees (which I acquired a few years after we moved in) call my very nasty names every day. We went “cheap” and had a “double-wide” put up on the property for about $85,000. Since they’re not designed to have a basement, we had it built up four feet and walled in the crawl space. Said crawl space has a four-inch-thick concrete slab for a floor. This provides the storage space that is sorely lacking in prefabricated homes.

    That pretty much covers the basics. I’m sure others will add “…but you forgot…”. That’s fine. I’ve distilled what I wish I’d known into these eight paragraphs.

    Good luck, Sir.


    “Cheap” Uncle Joe