First you should know this is a continuation of previous post: The Search For Land Part 1 and Part 2. As many of you know it can be tricky to find land and my experience was very similar. After you’ve read those posts this post will make more sense.
So where I am at today. The house is nearing the home stretch and I am frantically trying to finish it because the lease on apartment ends next week! The trick to all of this has been getting a lease on the land. Then land owner and I struck a deal where I pay $1.00 a month (yes a dollar) and I help him out with some website stuff every now and then. The land owner also wanted to be sure his liability insurance would cover me being on the property and after them going back and forth for a long while, they had to tweak some things. The land owner’s insurance went up about $300 and he asked that I pay that amount since it was an incurred cost on my behalf, which was totally fair. He also asked that I have liability insurance, so I picked up a $2,000,000 policy for $425 a year. So my insurance total was $725 a year, but my rent was only $12 a year.
Next up is was securing water, power and building a road. This is where I am now.
This has proven to be the most expensive part of the whole thing. A lot of people want to collect rain water off their roofs for water, but I crunched the numbers on my tiny house. A typical tiny house’s roof is 8 feet wide and 20 feet long. That is 160 square feet; for every inch of rain on a square foot you’ll get .6 gallons of water. So for my house that is 96 gallons of water per inch of rain, in my area after some googling I found that my area gets about 43 inches of rain per year. So the math works out to be that I would get 4,128 gallons of water a year off my roof. I quickly realized that this wasn’t practical for me because even if I had a 1 gallon per minute shower head, assuming a 15 minute shower, that’s 5,475 a year, which doesn’t include cooking, cleaning, drinking, etc. The math didn’t add up.
Since I was leasing the land, it didn’t make sense to put in a well (would cost me about $10,000) so I decided to tie in with the city water system. The water main from the city also happened to be running right along the property line, so it couldn’t be more ideal. So I went in and filled out the paperwork for the city and they gave me my total bill and I was shocked! For them to install a meter, I had to pay the city, $2,231!!! What’s worse was it was the city, so they set the price and you have to go to them. So I had to pay over $2,200 just for them to install a meter, so they could use it to charge me for the water I used! Once the meter is in, I still have to get it to my house, because for $2,200 they only bring it to the property line.
Then on top of that they told me it would take 2 months to install; this was a problem because I needed to move in a few weeks (at that time) and I couldn’t apply for the water until I had the lease, which I had only gotten the day before when I applied. The end result is I’ll be living without water for a few weeks, I plan to get a gym membership and have a water jug service come during this time.
Next up is electricity. Where I am at, the property is densely wooded so solar isn’t an option as of now, but I am looking into it for the future. I also talked with the power company and an electrician and to get the power setup on the lot was going to be about $800 plus 9 cents a KW which wasn’t too bad considering how little power I’ll be using. Solar is something I do want to do, but I figured right now it isn’t possible and then I also wanted to track my power usage in the tiny house for a year or so in order to size my solar panel system in the future correctly.
The process has gone like this: Contact power company, they came out and said where they could bring in a line. I contacted an electrician to setup the box. The box will be inspected. The power company checks the inspection and connects the service. A few other random details: Installation is a simple affair, takes an hour or so when they get scheduled. Inspection in my area is between 24-72 hours barring any complications. The power company now only will do a 200 amp service (which isn’t an issue, actually a plus). The power company said they’d do the first 200 feet for free if I had service for a year, after 200 feet it gets really really expensive.
Roads are something that a lot of people don’t think about. Also note that these price can vary in different areas and I don’t have anyone I know who has equipment or personal connections, so I’ll be paying for it all. I have only got quotes at this point, but its looking like it will cost me about $500 for labor/bobcat and then about $300-$500 in materials (geo-textile fabric, gravel, etc.). I thought about trying my hand with a rental bobcat, which honestly would be a lot of fun to drive, but when I got the price for the rental, deliver, fees, taxes etc. it was going to be about $800 to rent a bobcat in my area. In my area you can hire a bobcat driver and his rig for about $60 an hour which includes him showing up with his machine, the gas, and him running it. So it was actually cheaper for me to pay someone to do it, plus they’ll do a better job than I would since I’ve never used a bobcat before.
Sequencing of things
Another big thing I’ve run into was how things had to go down. I couldn’t start anything until I had my lease, which took much longer than anticipated, but I got a formal lease and it worked out. Once I had that I could put in for the power and water. I wanted to have all those things done before I ever put in the road, because they are both underground lines, so I would have to dig up my road to install them. I also wanted to have the water and power installed and inspected, then give myself at least a few weeks so that if an inspector was curious about what was going on and decided to swing by later on, he/she wouldn’t see anything because I built in a cooling off period. At that point I’d install the road and then move the house out there. The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray as they say. I’m going to try to do this the best I can still, but its going to have to happen in a shorter time.
I think this should be a real wake up call for a lot of people who think that the cost of a tiny house stops at the tiny house. Some lots will have these things already which is something you should try to get. These are my real world numbers and while they will vary for you in your area and if you have connections that will save you money that will help, but at the end of the day you’ll have to deal with the city and the power company and they hold a monopoly, setting the prices that you can’t get around.
Insurance: $725 a year
Rent: $12 a year
Electricity connection: $800
Water connection: $2,231