So you’re thinking about buying land in the Hudson Valley and building your dream home? Here are some questions you need to consider to figure out if the land you’re looking at might suit your needs.
What kind of ecosystem does it include? Is the land mostly wooded (good for shade, but you’ll need to clear some trees for the house site) or does it include meadows or lawn? If you are thinking about gardening, you might get the soil tested and also see if part of the property is facing south to maximize sunlight. If there are wetlands on the property, there will have to be a buffer zone between the house and the wet part of the property. You’ll need to do a percolation test to check the absorption rate of the soil if you’re planning to put in a septic system or leach field.
What are the views or potential views? Lots of properties in the area have stunning views of mountains and farms. Is there an obvious one on the property? Or could you cut down a few trees to reveal one? On the flip side, is there something less scenic you’d be looking at from your deck?
Are there any water features? With the many creeks and streams in the area, many properties have babbling brooks, ponds, or even waterfalls. Or with a little work, there might be potential for a duck or fishing pond or even a swimming hole on the property is there is a natural source of water. But its also important to find out if the land is in a flood zone.
What is the zoning of the land you’re looking at? Most land listed on the MLS is residential, but some is commercial or even in an agricultural district. These different kinds of zone impact taxes, how and what kinds of buildings you can create, and how you build your infrastructure.
Does it have or will it need septic or town sewer, electric, well or municipal water? Though they are often priced higher, it can be a major selling point if the land you’re looking at already has sewer, water, and electric approved or better yet present. If the land doesn’t have any of these things, be sure to budget for the proper surveying and permits. The rules guiding this process will be different from town to town.
What is the status of the permits and board of health approval? There is plenty of paperwork to do with the tone zoning board (which may require an appearance at one of their meetings), but you also need to find out if there is board of health approval for a septic system that will accommodate the number of bedrooms in the house you want to build. Sometimes land is sold with board of health approval – but make sure to check on the expiration date of the approval, its not forever.
Who will do a site evaluation? You might hire an engineer to do this and help you find the answers to some of the above questions. Make sure that if there isn’t already a driveway on the property, they assess driveway placement for visibility and safety.