Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

The Search For New Land – Part 2

A few weeks ago I posted about how I suddenly had to find new land to put my tiny house, the land that I was going to be on was suddenly sold by the owners I was leasing from, you can read it all in this post.

I wanted to follow up with the next stage and share how things are coming along, plus I got some new photos and spring has sprung here!  I recently met with the local power company and determined where I could get power run to.  At first I had wanted to be much deeper into the lot, but it would have cost thousands of dollars to get the power lines run there.  So I settled for a nice spot where I could have to power run for free.  The company would install up to 200 feet of underground line to my power box for free if I stayed a customer for 1 year and paid their minimum, which was $15 a month.

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The next thing that I went to check on was water connections.  I was afraid that the water line would be at the other end of the property and would have left me having to choose water or power, otherwise I’d have to pay thousands to get one of the extended to where I needed it.   Well I think I might have lucked out because the closest water line is 300 feet from where my house will be, so while I’ll be spending several hours hard labor digging a trench (even with a trencher) I’ll take it over spending thousands any day!

Step one was clearing a path for the power company to dig the trench and then the area I’m going to park my house.  So I had someone with a chain saw come through and cut a path that didn’t have to take out any large trees, but maximized the 200 foot extension deep into the woods.

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Next up is having a temporary power pole service put in.  It will be a 200 amp service (the smallest they’ll put it).  The panel will be mounted on two posts, with a ½” piece of plywood between them.  From there the box and the meter will be installed and then a 20 amp plug has to be installed (I don’t know why, but it’s required to pass code).  Additionally two copper grounding rods will need to be driven into the ground.

The trick here is that this will need to be inspected by the city, but my house isn’t there yet (on purpose), It will be pretty tricky because they might start asking questions.  I’m just going to have to come up with a story of why I need power at that site, then cross my fingers.

Right now I am getting quotes to get the 200 amp service panel put in, if you know anyone around Charlotte, NC that would be good or may be willing to do a barter of some sort (me building them a website/free advertisements/etc), let me know!

 

Read part three of this series by clicking here

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Read part three of this series by clicking here

 

 

26 Comments
  1. Ryan… Way to go! you have a beautiful lot :) thanks for the pics. This really is an inspiration for me :)

  2. With a place so beautiful, I think it would be understandable to want power put in for …. camping!

  3. Beautiful site! AS far as the inspectors go, I doubt they will question you, but if so just tell them that you will be building a house there soon and you need the pole for the workers to hook up their power tools. Easy peasy!

  4. Good looking land! Tell the inspectors you need electricity for an animal shelter. Chicken coop, rabbit hutch or goat barn.

  5. That’s the problem about not owning the land. When property ownership changes hands, you are at the mercy of the new owner. I lost most of my investment in a trailer (concrete driveways, chainlink fencing, carports, etc.) when the new owner decided he wanted the trailers out of there so he could build houses. And there was no where within 150-200 miles that would accept my trailer. (laws against single-wides, campers, living in RV’s, etc.) Even on my own private property. I watched another guy smash his trailer to pieces with a backhoe … that was the only way the landfill would accept it. He too was out of options.

    • Yeah I looked for land to purchase, but it wasn’t in the cards right now with me spending this money on the house. That is the next phase of things. I am designing everything to be mobile (like able to load up in an hour or two and ship out). Even though it is costing me to setup this stuff, I am trying to see it as “rent”; living here even with this costs I can recoup my expenditures in a few months since I don’t pay for an apartment, so overall by end of year one I’m still way ahead.

  6. Ryan,
    I have heard lots of creative ideas for avoiding zoning laws. I was lucky when we built our little 480 sq. ft. house, I found land in a twp. that was not zoned. Others I have heard built the “garage first”, with the intention of “building the house later”. Of course it will be really, really, really, later! In the mean time, they are living in the garage until the “get the money” to build the house. lol

  7. I don’t really have any sort of helpful comment – I just wanted to say again, “This is gorgeous!” I can’t wait to visit it.

    • I can’t wait for you all to come and visit!

  8. Your land is beautiful!

  9. Hello,
    This looks like utopia. I probably missed something coming in late but, why public utilities? For the trouble, an off grid approach could have been a beautiful thing.

    • I went with on the grid because it was cheaper and more practical for this site. It is almost all woods, so I’d have to run electrical lines a few thousand feet to get to where the panels would work versus having the power company putting in the line underground for free. A well is also way more expensive than city water ($10,000+ versus $2,000). Since I am only leasing this I don’t want to invest a lot of money.

  10. Hi Ryan,
    First off, your new place is beautiful! It’s nice the way apparent setbacks can become unexpected pleasures.
    It’s a key decision, whether to fly under the radar or to meet building and zoning codes. There’s no zoning in our WNC county (which, as an ex-city planner, was one reason we chose this location). We decided to meet building code because we are an intentional community that’s trying to promote high-quality, green building. So we need to have a good relationship with the building inspector. Meeting code definitely costs more up front, and some code requirements are questionable. But there’s long-term value in building something beautiful, well-crafted, durable, and energy efficient. And there are huge advantages to doing things as a community (including sharing costs for roads, well, and internet). Even the folks with tiny houses (like me) have 50 acres of forest preserve to walk in, a spot in a community garden, a place to store (and share) bikes and kayaks, a community house for parties or overnight guests, etc. The common perception of “tiny” is out in the woods, off-grid, under the radar. But there are lots of reasons people choose tiny house living, and lots of different ways to do it. Luckily, all those options are growing.

  11. Why do I get the feeling we are blazing a new trail through the Cumberland Gap, maybe it was easier for settlers in the 1700′s. Great pictures, great story, your exactly the reason the giant bureaucracy can not keep us from life ,liberty and the pursuit of HAPPINESS !

  12. Exciting !

    Would money be better spent on a solar electric system, instead of throwing it at a utility company?

    I once purchased an 81 acre pieces and wanted to locate my home 1/2 way back. It cost close to $10,000 for the electric. Had I known, in 2003, I could have put in solar and not only would I not have electriic bills, I would not contribute to the politics of being on grid. I also would not have had my land ripped up for the cable install.

    The spot looks beautiful.

    • Could you possibly email me privately about your community? We have a lot of interest in this type of community. Thank you! Lisa

  13. I forgot to add, cause I know you answered earlier about the lease situation….

    If you do the solar, it is like electricity for life. It will go with you when, and if you move.
    The utility line stays behind :(

  14. Love the property! My husband is an electrician but we live in Sanford, if you can’t find anyone local, email me and we will see what we can do. Good luck!

  15. Hi Ryan,

    Your new property is beautiful! Maybe I missed this somewhere, but are you renting the property or buying it?

    I’m going to be going through a similar experience in a few years here in the Raleigh NC area once I’ve finished building my tiny house (which I haven’t actually started yet) and your post brought to light some of my biggest fears with the whole process! Good luck!
    Jill

  16. might also want to speak to your landlord/lessor? about applying the costs of water and power infrastructure to your rent balance, as they are ‘Leasehold’ improvements to the land which will stay when you go.. (doesn’t have to be 100% maybe 70-80 averaged out over a years or two?) but at least it isn’t a large chunk of money out of their pocket up front, they may go for it.

    • I agree. I also hope you have an iron clad lease as you are doing a lot of expensive improvements to this person’s
      land and many people end up stabbing you in the back over something like this. The land will be worth a great deal more once those things are in. I’ve owned quite a few pieces of property in my adult life and have seen it all.

  17. Congratulations! It’s just gorgeous. I hope you have many happy time there and can stay as long as you wish. I’m totally envious.

    I just lost the chance to buy the only lot that I could afford, with a pole barn to collect and store water, and electrical service. I’m hoping to do even better, as you have.

    Best wishes!

    Warmly,
    jane

  18. Ryan, the land issue has been a high hurdle to any tiny house planning momentum I build. The share of your story is much much appreciated!

    In my case, my community is a small town but a popular retirement community, so land for purchase is tough to come by anywhere near the town while still affordable.

    So I feel your pain, regarding trying to stay near the city! Hope things work out moving forward for you and your Tiny House.

    Muchas Gracias!

  19. Also, have you yet met with building code officials? An anonymous phone call stating that you’re thinking of buying land in a certain neighborhood and building a small home starts thing off nicely. You can probably gauge rather quickly if the code official will listen with a reasonable ear.

    And who knows, if they do, you can put yourself “on the radar” and work toward tiny house acceptance via codes in your community while building yours.

    Cheers, and thanks for the inspiration.

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