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1. Lay of the Land
You need to understand the topography of your property to plan your home right. A site map will explain the traits, benefits and challenges of your proposed building site. If the land is undeveloped, you may also need a topographical survey. Your township or county zoning office can supply you with information about easements, utilities and environmental considerations. The natural features of the landscape, along with the location of utilities, should be indicated on the site map.
2. Proximity to Necessities and Amenities
Many who dream of owning a timber home picture it in a remote setting surrounded by nature, but think carefully about the distance to necessities and amenities. Things like proximity to work, schools, stores and hospitals are important to consider before making a decision. Also, homes that are too far from a fire department will pay more for fire insurance — a common complaint from homeowners who have built an expensive home far from adequate fire protection.
3. Septic Needs
The property should pass a percolations or “perc” test. A perc test indicates the soil’s capability to absorb liquid over a specific period of time and determines the size and type of septic system you’ll need. If it doesn’t pass, you may not be able to build on it or a more expensive system to handle waste treatment will have to be installed. You’ll also need a source of potable (drinkable) water. In rural areas, this typically means drilling a well. If you’re building closer to developed areas and can tap into public utilities, you can bypass these steps, but there will be ongoing costs.