NC Rural Living
Imagine spending many thousands of dollars to buy land with the goal of building a home or buying a home hoping to finally have livestock, only to learn after the fact that the zoning regulations forbid the use you planned or that water is not available, you cannot secure property insurance or the land does not support the size home you desire.
Even worse, imagine having to invest heavily in legal fees, abandon your plans, or sell the property because your dreams cannot become reality.
Many people have gone through the expense and emotional cost of that happening. But with careful planning, it will not happen to you.
Buying a home in the country or bare land involves serious considerations, particularly land or lots that are not part of a formal, recorded subdivision. A completed subdivision represents months and sometimes years of planning, engineering, construction and inspections before the finished lots are ready for building or sales. The water lines, sewers, drainage, curbs, gutters, sidewalks and streets are usually completed.
In contrast, unimproved bare lots or land, usually referred to as “acreage” is just that – unimproved bare acreage. To build a home on such unimproved land requires a source of potable water, a sewage system acceptable to city /county health authorities, electrical power, satisfactory topography for a home and proper and legal access to the property.
I make as sure as humanly possible that my buyers are getting a property you can use for goals. Here are what we will investigate; water, septic, electricity, broadband, drainage, determine if it is a flood plain, property boundaries, police records, fire protection, schools, community activities, and hopefully a chance to meet the neighbors.
Why Pay Attention to Zoning and Land Use Regulations?
Local land use laws differ greatly when it comes to horses and livestock. There simply can never be a guarantee that one city’s land use rules will be the same as another’s. Because of this, if you buy property with an equine or livestock related purpose in mind, you should investigate the local government’s land use restrictions and ordinances (ordinances are local laws affecting municipalities, such as villages, cities, or townships). Never assume that they will be favorable.
People who know nothing about horses or livestock usually write ordinances, and consequently, they sometimes do not make sense to horse or other farm people. A case in point – the local government in this author’s neighborhood wanted to pass an ordinance banning electric fencing for horses. That idea was dropped after several horse owners gently explained to the local government leaders that electrified fence wires do not deliver deadly shocks and were a common way of helping keep horses in their pastures.
Some Questions to Ask
Before you buy property, we will do the homework; you need clear, reliable, and preferably written answers to the following questions, so you can make an informed decision.
Laws and Ordinances Worth Checking
Before you buy property, secure a copy of the ordinances or laws that affect your planned uses of the land. Here are examples of some:
Read the ordinances very carefully. Find out if they allow, or destroy, your plans. Also, because of the risk that the laws can change, find out whether the state or local government is considering any proposed changes to the laws that might take effect after you buy the land.
Ordinances can be complicated and hard to understand. A knowledgeable lawyer can evaluate them for you. You can also hire a lawyer to issue an opinion letter explaining how any laws adversely affect you, and if so, your chances of securing a variance, or pursuing other appropriate legal action, successfully.
How to Give Yourself Sufficient Time to Examine the Laws While Accommodating an Impatient Seller
Getting laws takes time; reading them takes even more time. The seller might be unwilling to wait while you satisfy yourself that the local and state laws work in your favor. With this in mind, consider these ideas: