I've been deep-sea fishing off the coast in Portsmouth and even enjoyed a whale watching cruise (where we actually saw some whales) in Hawaii. Outside of that, my life has been relegated to freshwater fun.
We grew up water skiing and swimming at Kennebunk Pond in Lyman, Maine, and visiting my dad's family camp on Sebago Lake. Aside from that, I've been on terra firma. Skateboarding, BMX riding, hiking, skiing, and road cycling have been the mainstay of my outdoor life. For most of us, land is where it's at.
A few years ago, I was very fortunate to be able to purchase an acre of land in Lincoln with a good friend of mine. We split up the lot into three parcels and one of those is where I built my house.
The land purchase was a lifesaver for me. It provided the equity needed to get a construction loan. And beyond any fiscal or physical reward, it gave me a massive sense of pride and accomplishment that I've not felt since. Owning a piece of dirt is really a wonderful feeling and I'm looking forward to experiencing it again soon.
The other thing the purchase of, subdivision of, and subsequent construction on top of that piece of land taught me was the extensive list of things I didn't know about owning and "improving" land.
Today, I'd like to share a few of those insights and perhaps provide a few tips for those considering buying some dirt. As we all know, interest rates are still in the basement. It's likely a good time to think about grabbing your piece of the pie. As one of my favorite sayings goes; They're not making any more land. Buy it while you can.
In general, land is not going to increase in value as fast as a home sitting on a piece of land will. You should go into this project with a long-term mindset. If you are thinking of subdividing the parcel and selling off pieces, that's a great way to go as well.
Just consider how long that piece of land was sitting on the market before you came along. Chances are good that the parcels you list for sale may not be gobbled up very quickly. You are most likely thinking of building, so long-term is pretty familiar to you at this point. Nice work.
We were very fortunate to be located right along Route 3 in North Lincoln (up past Clark's Trading Post). This meant public water and sewer. All that was needed for the construction was to run a line from the basement to the street. We didn't have to deal with septic tanks, wells or any of that hassle and cost.
We did, however, include a "T" just past where the pipe entered my house. As the middle lot, we figured this would save the future owners of the next lot a big hassle since they could tap into that line instead of having to dig up my lawn. I'm quite sure the next piece of land I buy will not have public water or sewer. We're going "off grid"!
Speaking of being the middle lot. Deed restrictions can play a large role in the property itself as well as the building(s) you are able to construct once you own it. Naturally, the farther from town you go the looser the restrictions will be (usually).
Since we were the ones who owned (and were selling) the land, we were able to implement some of these restrictions. We did not allow mobile homes, non-running motor vehicles or other unsightly structures to be built. The goal was to have a mini-neighborhood and not a commercial junk yard. Be sure and do the research before you buy.
Easements are another tricky consideration. (And here you thought you bought some land and could do whatever you wanted, right!?) A third of an acre is not that big of a parcel to build a home on. The house itself was 28-by-32 feet (not huge), but with the way the lots were divided, it limited the location of the home.
There are setbacks for all the lot lines and since we were on Route 3, the setback restriction on that end nudged us back a bit for the location of the home. In hindsight, I should have pushed the house back even further.
When the new owners wanted to build a deck on the front of the house, they had to angle it a bit to fit within the setbacks. It's a little amusing when you see the shape, but it makes perfect sense when you realize the front of the deck is parallel to Route 3.
Lastly, zoning restrictions not only limit structure sizes and types, but also limit what you can do with the property. Commercial versus residential zones are worlds apart and help keep neighborhoods neighborly and commercial areas, commercial.
"Depending on where you decide to buy or build, the restrictions can be very limiting and surprising to new buyers," Badger Realty agent Ralph Cronin said. "On the flip side, those are also the very rules that keep homeowners happy and keep the box stores out of our neighborhoods."
Buying land is one of the best things I have done in my life. It is akin to purchasing your first home and brings with it all the excitement of new opportunities and possibilities for what you will create.
Do plenty of homework and learn all you can about the land. Consider your home placement carefully and if you're lucky, you'll have a great view towards Franconia Notch.