For many people, the idea of buying some land to build a home in the Colorado mountains is a dream come true. But if you've never bought a piece of land, there are a few things that you should look out for before putting your money down. Here is a handy checklist for buying Colorado land.
Utilities. All pieces of land you look at will come with the utility hookups in one of various stages. You may have some utilities already prepared while others are nonexistent. Find out what's been done and what still needs to be done to provide water, sewer, gas and electric to the home. Here are a few utilities questions to ask:
- Is the water via a well or community hookup?
- If there is a well, is it permitted for outside water usage?
- What type of water rights can be purchased?
- Is the sewer hooked up to city or county lines or will you need a septic tank?
- Is the septic tank large enough for the size house you want?
- Has the land been tested with a "perk test" to determine soil absorption?
- Is there gas service (usually through Xcel Energy) or will you use propane deliveries?
- Has electricity already been run to the lot, or will you need to pay to have it brought in?
Roads. Those buying a house rarely give much consideration to the maintenance of the road, but it's vital in the high country of Colorado. You will need access to main roads, maintenance on your local road (especially after winter snows and spring rains) and snow plowing. Find out what access the land comes with and who is responsible for all roads out to the nearest designated county road.
Zoning. Local zoning laws oversee what can and can't be built on particular pieces of land, so make sure you will be able to build the type of home (for example, single family home, duplex, year 'round or part-time rental) you want once you buy. Zoning information can often be found at the county or city offices and websites -- such as this website for Summitt County.
Dues and Control. It's less common in rural areas for local committees to have architectural control (the right to decide what you can and cannot build) over your your property, but it still happens. Be sure to ask your real estate agent about homeowners' or neighborhood associations before settling on a home. Even if paying dues or following guidelines isn't a deal breaker, you at least want to know what those requirements will be.
By asking questions about and learning the answers to these items, you can help ensure that you find the best possible piece of land on which to build your dream home. Then, you can start planning your new Colorado adventure.