Buying land in Maine, what to look out for when building a house from scratch.
This blog post also considers the top mistakes to avoid making when you build your own home in Maine. First the Maine land.
Like people the soils are different on house lots or larger property acreages.
And the first rule of real estate everyone knows about the three location, location, location mantra that reminds under everything is the land and where it is on the planet is everything when building a home.
It is so true that the land location, the how it lays in the terrain and setting is everything to the future home owner. What is happening on the adjacent lots, the property across the street or road from the Maine land where you want to build?
Will the house you have in mind fit the flavor of the other houses already constructed? What is planned for development on vacant land for the best finished structure all goes into the selection of the best possible house site for your Maine home.
What is in your view, the orientation to the southern exposure sun? Where are you toying with placing the improvements on this Maine land? Does the house, the garage, septic system, big garden, tennis court or swimming pool all go together like a puzzle where you don't have to force the pieces?
Next building permits, HHE 200 soil tests for private septic systems leach field designs are needed on your Maine land.
Every municipality is different on what is required and believe it or not there are itty bitty Maine towns that don't require building permits. Some of these small burgs or plantations that are more like settlements run everything through the Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC). The majority of folks who growl about LURC are ot the out of state building on land buyers because they are used to heavy duty zoning and layers of players.
See the local officials before you plow in to the construction and then are told hold it, you are missing some vital paperwork from town hall.
The state plumbing code covers the state though and you want the septic system to work properly and to be at least 100 feet away from the private drilled well. If the land in Maine where you are building your home is serviced by a town or city public water and sewer, there is still the need to call the utility people. To consider ledge, any limitations to hooking up to the services.
Building on waterfront land in Maine adds a whole other layer to the consideration you must give to a vacant lot.
Or when you plan to buy existing and tear it down to gain the original location closer to the waterfront than current building codes in the shore land zoning article outlined in the law allow. You don't want to find out after you buy a a vacant waterfront lot that it is not build-able and won't conform to existing shore land zoning regulations. The local municipality can have beefed up above and beyond shore land zoning standards that are stricter than the state of Maine's version too.
If you plan to work the land and it is not just purchase for elbow room and to protect your housing investment, more in depth study of the Maine land soil profile, the drainage, suitability for the farming of property acreage is needed.
The quality of the Maine land is more important than the house you plan to build because you can change or modify the building. You can not make a poorly drained parcel of land in a swamp high and dry. Ever heard the Maine groan? "The farm said the ground is so hard pan on some hilly farm fields we had to plant the corn with a shotgun".
Soil erosion hurts the waterfront and a unprofessional previous timber harvest clear cut can impact the quality of your land that is underneath all in the enjoyment of your dream home.
The one you have waited for all your life. That is the sum of everything you wished for from other home experiences. Combined with the list of what you don't want and had to endure in someone else's vision of a super home. Don't build your dream home on a nightmare lot. More on the five reasons why people buy Maine land.
Okay, flip the coin time let's move on to consider the top mistakes to avoid building your home. The other half of what was promised in this double feature home construction blog post. You have the best possible land to build on and this blog assumes you had your house plans in mind as you started your land search for a new home site. Because if there is a slope in the main land that would make an ideal walk out basement where you plan to have living space, bingo. So far so good in your check list combining the lay of the land you are about to buy with the house design you are about to select.
Like coordinating an outfit that matches, your land goes hand in hand with what you put on it.
The stakes are too high to make a foolish hurried purchase of Maine land and charging ahead with no particular house plans in hand to order the set of blueprints so you can begin the get an estimate phase.
What's are all the costs, how long is this building a house operation going to take? What if we hit ledge assuming you did not dig the test holes to determine you won't in this perfect spot you have staked off and ribbon-ed. When you build, other than financial constraints from rising material costs or added labor because of wrong time of the year. There are plenty of devil in the detail issues to iron out that all impact each other to cause setbacks and cost overruns.
When say a wet fall too close to the beginning of winter makes earth construction on the land for the foundation one big muddy mess.
Not to talk about pouring cement footing and cellar walls when the it's snowing and below freezing which interferes with the concrete curing and can diminish the long term strength. Newly poured concrete if left to freeze will have future problems with cracking, pop outs and scaling resulting in a weaker concrete product that supports everything built on your foundation.
Get a contractor and don't try to build the home yourself with the thought of how much money you saved.
Unless your Dad is a carpenter for the last three decades, your brothers all in the building trades or associated plumbing, electrical, siding, roofing or dry wall, you don't know what you are doing. Won't have any idea of what happens first and to recognize mistakes in the making. Avoid the hot water and worry and ripping out to redo that is expensive in time and money. The subcontractors need monitoring by someone that recognizes what quality looks for and holds them to that standard in your home sweet home.
Get a set of house plans because how will the contractor and all the subs know exactly what they are bidding on and building?
The blueprint specs show where the outlets go, the electrical can count up the outlets, figure the length of copper wiring, the size of the entrance box and where it is just like the plumbing who knows where he would put the furnace. But it's your home and you want a future recreation room in that portion of unfinished cellar. But if the furnace is parked in the center and not tucked in along the side to make the best use of future space, this is one of many disappointments in your housing dream. Is the long expanse in one room properly supported, the floor and rafters trussed properly? You will find out in no time if they are not.
When you build you get what you want or should unlike buying an existing home in Maine where who knows what the previous owners and original builder were thinking when they put that doorway here and window there.
Kitchens planned near bathrooms are designs that save on the cost of the plumbing element. The contractor knows where the best price is for materials, who does the best work on this area, that specialty. Tap into his knowledge. He knows his way around the toolbox. It will be cheaper in the long run.
When the architect says I think you need two feet more in the kitchen and two less in the dining room, listen to him.
I know a local architect Bob Kervin who advised a friend of mine to do that. He reminded her "You spend more time in that kitchen than the four holidays a year in the formal dining room". Make the everyday dining area in the kitchen larger because it gets used three times a day and the kitchen of today is where more time is spent in the rocking chair next to the wood cook or heater stove on the brick hearth.
Your architect has been through this process. He or she knows what others in the same building boat are doing and why which he shares freely. He or she want to help guide you around safety codes, to point out that bricked hearth needs to be out in a room more to provide the necessary clearance for fire codes and to ever get insurance which is needed to obtain financing. Plus you don't want your new home to go up in a smoke or your family in the obituary news.
You also don't want to be ripping out what you don't like but had not discussed before it was installed.
Put down the nail gun, the crow bar used in demolition and let's have a cinnamon bun, a hot coffee and slow but constructive conversation with the builder and the construction partners.
Building a green home, going off grid, a set of plans for whatever home you are building on your Maine land needs drawings. Handicap approved doorways, bathrooms where a wheelchair can do donuts, ADA standard space for the future ramp outside your parents or you yourself are going to need for mobility and safety. The plans have so much for today and down the road and are engineered to last and provide years of enjoyment from your housing investment.
When you build a home in Maine it is hard to get the details going in for anyone working on it with a house plan sketched on a napkin, the other side of place mat from down at your favorite dine, on the back of an Uncle Henry's buy sell swap trade guide.
Detail, it is missing. And the house design is fly by the seat of your pants. That's okay with the boys building your hunting camp and happy hour starting a little early. But for a home that you may not die in and plan to sell, it better be something the market will like to attract a new real estate buyer.
Ignore the local real estate market and you create a one of a kind white elephant home on your Maine land.
A dog that stands out as Heinz 57 variety. Actually there are lots of houses that Jack built. Some are pretty ingenious. Others just recycled old army barracks hauled in from my home town airfield. Used during World War Two to house German prisoners of war who were a big help to local potato farmers while GI Joe was over there. A little blue but would be home for next Christmas.
I always tell first time home buyers it is exciting to climb out of the rent rut and start owning.
But don't be so picky about this being the one and only home I will ever own. You are probably not going to die here. Chances are the white or black hearse is not taking you for your last ride from this home address.
What other mistakes to avoid building your home in Maine? Colors in a room that make a buyer wince can be changed for a 25 dollar can of paint. Poor drainage that causes one or more sub-pumps to work over time is a bigger issue if not addressed during building. When outside that foundation wall that is poured concrete is done curing and the forms removes, what about drainage around the footing? What about the black tar to seal the pores and outside of the foundation wall and adding two inches of blue board insulation to bank it forever from the outside?
The design to save energy and those pretty insulated glass windows better be installed properly.
You are working your day job and see they are all trimmed in tonight after work. But were they put in the right way? Hey, do you feel that breeze and it's not even winter yet. Your house contractor keeps track of it all and makes his worker or the subs do it over. They work for him and will never be building you another home if you try to hire them off the street and they know it.
The general contractor knows what he is doing, you and I probably lack the experience to pull it off flawlessly. I know I have learned so so much in 38 years of listing and selling real estate listings. But do I know it all? Heck no because it is ever changing and everyday is one to reinvent what we do to stay current and the most professional we can be to our customers and clients.
More odds and ends of what to avoid for mistakes building your own home in Maine?
The future addition for a home office, where does it go if you or the next buyer wants to add one? The same question about the adding on for more bedrooms, the mother in law apartment, how would you do it if you did or to promote for features built in for the next home owner.
Finally when the last pickup leaves and no more lifts of sheetrock or shingles or metal roofing are coming up the long driveway. You can finally work on the lawn. Planting trees and shrubs, establishing your landscaping. Balanced and pleasing to the eye and the pocket book as you stand out front, at the sides, the back and take it all in? Like it, love it? You built it or were the captain guiding the process of 2 by 4-6-8 in the stick home from the ground up but chances are you have not built a bunch of houses. But this one is you to anyone who knows you.
Ask around, you hear the same names in a small Maine town. It's hard to keep a secret. Find a contractor you can trust. The same with the plumber, electrician, all the other tradesmen especially if new to the area and don't know a soul. Here to find you the land to build on to suit your needs. To help share what we have spotted and to point out the red flags. That need to be respected and to avoid all the pitfalls buying land, mistakes buidling a house in Maine.
MOOERS REALTY 69 NORTH ST HOULTON ME 04730 USA