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Finding Land With Unrestricted Use

 
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Hello! New to this site, although I had (most) of the permaculture basics down pat prior to joining.

My question involves land.

I am finding cheap land everywhere; problem is, it appears it does not allow for unrestricted use. When I mean "unrestricted", I am talking about free to put a tiny house (190 to 340 square feet) and composting toilet system (to name a few) on the property without having an assessor or zoning board on my tail.

What I am seeing is that the land may be YOURS once purchased, but dwellings must be 600 square feet or greater, no camping longer than 7 days per month without a permit, RVs are restricted, mobile homes need a permit, yada yada. I think in Colorado you have to purchase rights to water prior to drilling for it.

Where can I find land with NO RESTRICTIONS on use?

Any leads or insight would be great.
 
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Absolutely no restrictions is rare.

In general the more rural and far away from larger towns and cities the less restrictions you will find. Many states have no places with no restrictions.

I have also been looking for land with no or very minimal restrictions a couple of things I have found. Look up county codes if they do not have a website call them. A county without a website is a county that will possibly not have 4 pages of restrictions. *Real estate agents will lie call the county.

I have been looking around at Texas and Arkansas and seen a couple of areas I want to explore further. A couple of places I found in Est Texas were just too far from anything.. New Mexico has some areas with very minimal codes but they do have a state septic code. Some homesteaders have found Missouri a good place to land.

It is rare and hard to find. Good luck let me know if you find anything good.




 
author & gardener
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Roger, good for you for looking into this before buying! Question: does the area matter? You mention Colorado, but is your heart set on that location, or will another suit? Someone else can probably verify if this is up to date, but I know some folks in Colorado who have found it to be restriction heavy in many areas. One guy I know had a heck of a time getting approved for very rural off grid solar. I have another friend who says rainwater catchment and greywater usage are difficult to impossible to implement. This may have changed and it may depend on the county, but these are the kinds of things that are good to know beforehand.

I read awhile back of someone who finally chose rural Texas because it had the least restrictions for the homesteading lifestyle they had in mind. Again, I'm not sure if that is an up to date assessment, but it might be worth looking into.

 
Roger Klawinski
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Leigh Tate wrote:Roger, good for you for looking into this before buying! Question: does the area matter? You mention Colorado, but is your heart set on that location, or will another suit? Someone else can probably verify if this is up to date, but I know some folks in Colorado who have found it to be restriction heavy in many areas. One guy I know had a heck of a time getting approved for very rural off grid solar. I have another friend who says rainwater catchment and greywater usage are difficult to impossible to implement. This may have changed and it may depend on the county, but these are the kinds of things that are good to know beforehand.

I read awhile back of someone who finally chose rural Texas because it had the least restrictions for the homesteading lifestyle they had in mind. Again, I'm not sure if that is an up to date assessment, but it might be worth looking into.



Thank you for your insight, Leigh!

I am not bound to Colorado; I used that "restrictive" area as an example.

An idyllic situation would be:

- Unrestricted use
- Well on site
- Over two acres
- Power pole CLOSE BY would be awesome; am prepared to go solar if not.

State does not matter; bonus if NOT near the Canadian border.
 
Rocket Scientist
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Rural Montana, depending on the county is very easy to homestead .
Very few rules and almost zero enforcement where there are .
If you own the land you can even have it listed at the county as a homestead.
They can not take the main house and a certain amount of the property around it, no matter how much financial trouble you get into.
I should mention a little caveat about that.  If you class your land as a homestead (I did)  you cannot use the land to get a loan.
 
Roger Klawinski
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Christopher Westmore wrote:Absolutely no restrictions is rare.

In general the more rural and far away from larger towns and cities the less restrictions you will find. Many states have no places with no restrictions.

I have also been looking for land with no or very minimal restrictions a couple of things I have found. Look up county codes if they do not have a website call them. A county without a website is a county that will possibly not have 4 pages of restrictions. *Real estate agents will lie call the county.

I have been looking around at Texas and Arkansas and seen a couple of areas I want to explore further. A couple of places I found in Est Texas were just too far from anything.. New Mexico has some areas with very minimal codes but they do have a state septic code. Some homesteaders have found Missouri a good place to land.

It is rare and hard to find. Good luck let me know if you find anything good.






Rare, indeed.

Seems the best-case scenario I have found without exorbitant startup costs for land, and that has few restrictions, is in Arizona.

Note this land IS zoned RU-4 (without restriction), and is within a decent year-round climate, you're going to spend $20,000+ to dig a well. And that's assuming you do not need to spend thousands on permits and water rights prior to digging. Not only that, the area is close enough to the Mexican border - and wide open enough - that I would fear being overrun by drug runners in the middle of the night.

I have looked at Montana, Thomas. Great soil, excellent water...problem is, I cannot find an acre under $50k (although I do need to dig more).

While I know that I will need to have SOME cash on hand to make things happen initially, I am bootstrapping most of this with about $22,000 to my name and the desire to get off-grid.
 
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In general the more rural and far away from larger towns and cities the less restrictions you will find



In general the more rural and far away from larger towns and cities the less restrictions are enforced

What few people realize is the driver behind regulations,
The entire safety industry is driven by the insurance industry.
And when the worst possibility happens (fire, flood, toxic gick, or catastrophic failure under load.) your insurance company (or the insurance of the misfortunate soul that bought it after you) will be looking for someone else to blame.... or someway to mitigate their costs.
While there are some counties / municipalities with almost no requirements, usually there are state requirements, lending agency requirements and insurance requirements.

Think about it...do you really want to live in an area where your upstream neighbor can dispose of waste with a convenient pipe to the bank of the feeder to the local lake?, or send it over the hill to where it flows off his property and is no longer his problem?

If so, (And it's far from any Canadian border!!) the Calcutta slums sound like just what you're looking for!
(I hear land is very economical there too!)

Earnestly, If the regs are too onerous gather with like-minded citizens and attend (and vote!) on regulation adopting meetings and petition your state representatives to address the existing ones.
As for me I'm pretty tickled my neighbor (and by extension his neighbor!) have a few restrictions....
 
master gardener
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At one time most counties in northern MN generally lacked building codes.  Where I lived, the only code was that a house could not be built with green lumber.
 
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If your intention is to do everything legally, I'd guess it's going to be difficult to find a place with NO restrictions. It is pretty easy, however, to find places where codes aren't strictly enforced.  
I learned the phrase "you can do anything you want as long as you don't get caught" when I was little. I also believe in personal responsibility. So for me, the right thing to do has been to get away with living off grid, growing food, catching water, composting, permaculturing.  
 
Roger Klawinski
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Alec Buchanan wrote:If your intention is to do everything legally, I'd guess it's going to be difficult to find a place with NO restrictions. It is pretty easy, however, to find places where codes aren't strictly enforced.  
I learned the phrase "you can do anything you want as long as you don't get caught" when I was little. I also believe in personal responsibility. So for me, the right thing to do has been to get away with living off grid, growing food, catching water, composting, permaculturing.  



I'm quickly learning that adopting this "mantra", if you will, is perhaps the only way I will be able to live the off-grid life I desire without greasing the palms of every small town politician I encounter.
 
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there's so many people in the world these days finding unrestricted land is not an easy task. there was a map on internet but it tuned out not to be real accurate.
here in Tennessee there are some places where you can do just about anything as long as you put in a septic system. just something you have to do and might as well figure it in the cost of the property you are looking at.
just in general wherever you look finding a place where a previous home was can be a winner, many such properties have stuff grandfathered in so you can avoid inspections and bringing things up to current code.
 
pollinator
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Please come join me in Western Oklahoma! I'm lonely for permaculture people. No restrictions and no building and planning department for the county. My guess is that rangeland in Northwest Oklahoma is running $1000 to $1200/acre. I don't know what the smallest size plot people would sell is, maybe 40 acres? Maybe not. I'm constantly having realtors contact me about people wanting to buy. If you want to talk specific counties, send me a purple moosage.
 
Christopher Westmore
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Roger Klawinski wrote:

Rare, indeed.

Seems the best-case scenario I have found without exorbitant startup costs for land, and that has few restrictions, is in Arizona.

Note this land IS zoned RU-4 (without restriction), and is within a decent year-round climate, you're going to spend $20,000+ to dig a well. And that's assuming you do not need to spend thousands on permits and water rights prior to digging. Not only that, the area is close enough to the Mexican border - and wide open enough - that I would fear being overrun by drug runners in the middle of the night.



Much of the desert west has cheap land the issue is water. If it has water it's not cheap.

I am looking for a winter place in a warmer climate and have been looking around Est Texas because there are a couple of river beds=shallow wells & water also I like trees. They have water but many place too much so flood zones are an issue.

I live in one of the only counties in Colorado with not a lot of building codes. 10 years ago their was basically none now we have septic. One issue is we have an aggressive tax assessor who likes to find any building and say it adds 5-10 times it's value to the property. They also use tools like google maps now days.  

Alec Buchanan wrote:If your intention is to do everything legally, I'd guess it's going to be difficult to find a place with NO restrictions. It is pretty easy, however, to find places where codes aren't strictly enforced.  
I learned the phrase "you can do anything you want as long as you don't get caught" when I was little. I also believe in personal responsibility. So for me, the right thing to do has been to get away with living off grid, growing food, catching water, composting, permaculturing.  



I am very cautious about this. I have seen people get away with it forever I have also seen places crack down on it. Puna Hawaii and Costilla County, Colorado are a couple of places that attracted a lot of grass roots homesteaders then something changed and they started enforcing stuff. I have also seen small town and neighbor augments turn into code violation reports.

For me it is a investment gamble if I spend 10k on land build a 12x16 shack it is not big deal. If I spend 40k and spend 1000hours and 20k building a cabin it would suck to get caught up in a code violation issue with the county. I have seen people fight tooth and nail, lose and have to tear stuff down. I don't want to invest in that.

Bill Haynes wrote:
What few people realize is the driver behind regulations,
The entire safety industry is driven by the insurance industry.
And when the worst possibility happens (fire, flood, toxic gick, or catastrophic failure under load.) your insurance company (or the insurance of the misfortunate soul that bought it after you) will be looking for someone else to blame.... or someway to mitigate their costs.
While there are some counties / municipalities with almost no requirements, usually there are state requirements, lending agency requirements and insurance requirements.

Think about it...do you really want to live in an area where your upstream neighbor can dispose of waste with a convenient pipe to the bank of the feeder to the local lake?, or send it over the hill to where it flows off his property and is no longer his problem?



In the US their are numerous EPA and federal regulations that say you cannot dispose of waste in a waterway.
Locally “septic” and “waste water” cover water protection.

Most peoples issues with regulations is the cost of building a dwelling. You can usually get a septic system installed for $5k-10k. If it was about protecting water ways we could all install a $5k septic and live in a yert, school bus, tiny home, etc. But that would diminish “property values” “eye sore”, etc.

The problem is many regulations say a dwelling needs to be a certain size and 4 pages of other codes and compliances, driveway then it takes 200k-+ to build a “single family residence”. Mortgage debt and it is the bank that owns the place.  

Most of the pages of regulations and codes can be traced back to two things 1- maintaining property values 2-supporting the industry's you will need to dump money into to build the home in compliance. As usual it's about the $$$.

 
Bill Haynes
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I concur, that it's all about the dollar.

But the place to fight it is by establishing reasonable policy rather than participating in blissful ignorance (and willful contravention of standards).

Puna Hawaii and Costilla County, Colorado are a couple of places that attracted a lot of grass roots homesteaders then something changed and they started enforcing stuff.



I submit that the  reason they started enforcing stuff was because they had attracted a lot of grass roots homesteaders!

 
pollinator
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Where I live in Oregon, many code regulations are complaint driven. Yet another reason to try to get along with neighbors. And have a secluded property. You can't really just stumble onto our place.

If you have a permitted structure here, they don't hassle you so much about additional structures, particularly if they are little.

I have friends in eastern Washington, up by the Canadian border and there is little enforcement up there. They found the area by searching for areas with little to no growth over the last decade or so. Maybe that could help.
 
Roger Klawinski
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Stacy Witscher wrote:Where I live in Oregon, many code regulations are complaint driven. Yet another reason to try to get along with neighbors. And have a secluded property. You can't really just stumble onto our place.

If you have a permitted structure here, they don't hassle you so much about additional structures, particularly if they are little.

I have friends in eastern Washington, up by the Canadian border and there is little enforcement up there. They found the area by searching for areas with little to no growth over the last decade or so. Maybe that could help.



Thanks!

I bumped into a nice plot of land near Yakima. Also found another by the Maine-Canada border, too. Great thing about Washington is the amount of rainwater I could gain using a catchment system.

There is one parcel in Yakima where $120 HOA fees grants you unlimited access to water and a shower facility. THAT, in and of itself, is tempting. I can cook over fire and can drag in a wood-burning stove. Would just need to get a septic system put in for my dwelling.

Problem with septic systems is I would need to tap into a field tile or underground line - which I do not think these parcels offer. I suppose I could try and get a composting system setup and approved as I cannot see any other way to funnel grey water/sewage away from the property without the aforementioned.

Almost got a deposit in on a parcel in Washington with an abandoned cabin, with a well and septic already there. Was too late.
 
John F Dean
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You may want to look real close at any HOA terms. Think in terms of present and future.
 
pollinator
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The most free land is Indian Reservation.     Earthships have been built there because it is under the laws of the Indians and not the government, so no building codes.
 
pollinator
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You can ask about certain states all you want, but we found an almost completely unrestricted piece of land fairly close to the San Antonio/Austin area here. (Read that as "Urban-Suburban area") We just closed on it today so the deed restrictions are fresh on my mind. It DID say your home has to have at least 400sqft, but I doubt that would even be enforced here since the document was written in the 60s. Oh, and your home has to be valued at least $2000 lol. That was pretty much it.

The greatest nuisance is from the county regulations- we can't have two septic systems AND a well on land less than 5 acres (ours is 4.6 acres). This matters since my parents and I both are planning on building there. We're just going to do one larger septic system to share and even are planning to do rain water so I guess technically we could do two septic tanks if we wanted, but why bother.  Note: drilling a well here costs $30,000 so rainwater even saves us money
 
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I live in East Tennessee, and was born and (mostly) raised in Alabama. Most rural land outside of a subdivision development has no deed restrictions.

I am a Carpenter by trade and I build houses all over the southeast United States, most rural counties in Georgia/Alabama/Tennessee/North Carolina have little to no building requirements.

For example, here in Tennessee you are only required to get a septic inspection and an electrical inspection when building a house in most counties, however the leverage that they use to make you get inspections goes like this:  If you do not get a perk test and a septic inspection you cannot hook up the electricity.

I'm semi off-grid, well water and solar. Wood heat.. I never got any inspections, I have been living here for about 5 or 6 years.

The land prices have went up recently but you can still find land for 3-5k an acre if you hunt for it or buy it in large tracts.

 
Christopher Westmore
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Bill Haynes wrote: I concur, that it's all about the dollar.

But the place to fight it is by establishing reasonable policy rather than participating in blissful ignorance (and willful contravention of standards).

Puna Hawaii and Costilla County, Colorado are a couple of places that attracted a lot of grass roots homesteaders then something changed and they started enforcing stuff.



I submit that the  reason they started enforcing stuff was because they had attracted a lot of grass roots homesteaders!



Not really sure of the reason but making and enforcing codes gets into local politics. In Puna local politics is ran by the native Hawaiians who many times try to run out as many "Howlies"(white non-natives) as they can. But at the end of the day they are not running out the owners of 5 bedroom custom homes(just squeezing them gently at tax time).

Many people are really upset about the newer codes in Costilla County, Colorado. Their are thousands of subdivided lots which used to sell to retired folks, seasonal campers, homesteaders, with the current codes no one is buying. No one is going to put a $200k home on a $5k property in the poorest county in CO.

 
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I would try Maine as a potential state. Very little restrictions as far as what you can build on the land. Vermont is the similar as far as building codes go and you do not need to purchase water rights. VT does require septic though.
 
Roger Klawinski
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John F Dean wrote:You may want to look real close at any HOA terms. Think in terms of present and future.



My goal is definitely to avoid HOA's. I made that point because it does seem attractive to only need septic on your land while $120 a year gives you unlimited water and showers. But at the end of the day, I will avoid joining an HOA at all costs.

Solar will be my power source. I'm on the fence about water because I can create a killer irrigation system for my crops if I have a constant flow of water - which would require a well with good pressure.

I just did research on states that allow a composting system in lieu of a septic tank. As it is illegal to carry waste yourself across property lines that you do not own, and I'm really not in a position to drop $15-$20k on a septic system, I may be forced to chose a state/county where composting is welcome (and codified).
 
Roger Klawinski
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Christopher Westmore wrote:

I have also seen places crack down on it. Puna Hawaii and Costilla County, Colorado are a couple of places that attracted a lot of grass roots homesteaders then something changed and they started enforcing stuff. I have also seen small town and neighbor augments turn into code violation reports.



Yeah, let's talk about Costilla County.

I can go grab 30 acres right now for less than $600 an acre.

Problem is, stories like this are becoming commonplace where off-gridders are being forced off their own land unless they connect back to the grid.

If I purchase land and pay taxes on said land, and as long as I'm not engaged in illegal activity, I should not be visited by code enforcement because I am camping, or RVing, or staying in a small bunker while I build.

Costilla County is literally forcing people to comply or leave.
 
Roger Klawinski
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Chris Giannini wrote:I would try Maine as a potential state. Very little restrictions as far as what you can build on the land. Vermont is the similar as far as building codes go and you do not need to purchase water rights. VT does require septic though.



I found this gem, requiring only a 150 square foot residence and 18 square foot bathroom: https://www.landwatch.com/somerset-county-maine-recreational-property-for-sale/pid/409107931

Not sure why vacant land taxes are $407 a year, but whatever, I can make double that a month in odd jobs that pay cash.

 
Stacy Witscher
pollinator
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While I agree, HOA's were definitely on my list of things to avoid. A couple of properties that I viewed had HOA's that were just road maintenance agreements/funding, nothing else. That seemed like a reasonable way to deal with maintaining a private road for multiple properties.
 
Chris Giannini
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Wow that property in Maine is gorgeous! That's a beautiful part of the world and it's right near the Kennebec. Moosehead Lake is one of my favorite places in Maine to go to.
 
John F Dean
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0ne solid reason to honor regulations is that you will otherwise be at the mercy of any ticked off neighbor, teacher, local politician, etc.
 
Roger Klawinski
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Stacy Witscher wrote:While I agree, HOA's were definitely on my list of things to avoid. A couple of properties that I viewed had HOA's that were just road maintenance agreements/funding, nothing else. That seemed like a reasonable way to deal with maintaining a private road for multiple properties.



Buried within the bylaws of an HOA are stipulations on home size and other nonsensical drivel that makes having a well-maintained road seem mundane.

Another big deciding factor will be how far down one needs to drill to get good water. At $30+ a foot for just the drilling and the casing, I’d like to keep it under 150”. I seen a few places in Maine have good water at 100’.

Land with an operational septic - even with a burned down or otherwise useless structure - will get preference along with local ordinances that allow for water storage tanks or catchments.
 
Christopher Westmore
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Roger Klawinski wrote:
Costilla County is literally forcing people to comply or leave.



Worse yet is in many cases it is basically impossible to comply. They are requiring electricity miles away from the grid, it would cost tens of thousands sometimes hundreds of thousands to get it.

They are just clearing out properties.

Stacy Witscher wrote:While I agree, HOA's were definitely on my list of things to avoid. A couple of properties that I viewed had HOA's that were just road maintenance agreements/funding, nothing else. That seemed like a reasonable way to deal with maintaining a private road for multiple properties.



A major issue many people have with HOAs is the way they are structured, many times get hijacked and controlled by a couple of people. The people that gain control of the HOA can impose fines and basically run anyone out they want. HOAs easily become mini tyrant kingdoms where property “owners” have no real rights and no recourse from abuse. The idea and concept is good but the legal structure and what they usually grow into is bad.

I lived in a HOA once, Never Again..
 
Stacy Witscher
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Yeah, I've with an HOA in the SF Bay Area. It wasn't a problem at first, but overtime they got absurd.

But these particular properties in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas were just about the road and included nothing else, and had no provision for adding anything else.

 
Roger Klawinski
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Christopher Westmore wrote:

Roger Klawinski wrote:
Costilla County is literally forcing people to comply or leave.



Worse yet is in many cases it is basically impossible to comply. They are requiring electricity miles away from the grid, it would cost tens of thousands sometimes hundreds of thousands to get it.

They are just clearing out properties.

Stacy Witscher wrote:While I agree, HOA's were definitely on my list of things to avoid. A couple of properties that I viewed had HOA's that were just road maintenance agreements/funding, nothing else. That seemed like a reasonable way to deal with maintaining a private road for multiple properties.



A major issue many people have with HOAs is the way they are structured, many times get hijacked and controlled by a couple of people. The people that gain control of the HOA can impose fines and basically run anyone out they want. HOAs easily become mini tyrant kingdoms where property “owners” have no real rights and no recourse from abuse. The idea and concept is good but the legal structure and what they usually grow into is bad.

I lived in a HOA once, Never Again..



That's why it makes sense that these land companies are selling 30-40 acres in Costilla County for $300-400 an acre with "beautiful view of mountains" as the sticking point.
 
Leigh Tate
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Christopher Westmore wrote:A major issue many people have with HOAs is the way they are structured, many times get hijacked and controlled by a couple of people.


I think this is a potential problem any place where restrictions that aren't strictly enforced. They may not be enforced now, but new officials, newly elected officials, a new need for revenue, etc., could change the level of enforcement implemented.
 
Bill Haynes
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Land with an operational septic - even with a burned down or otherwise useless structure - will get preference along with local ordinances that allow for water storage tanks or catchments.



I'd be careful with this one! And attempt to find the date of install.
A concrete septic is good for centuries but a steel one about 30 years, and plastic ones degrade with U.V.
Many of them don't get buried for a long time (in areas without enforcement) and just two or three years in the sun can lead to significant degradation.

Steel ones rust out and the top collapses, old concrete block septics usually have a 3xXX wood top that rots, so it's often a good idea to fence off the area below.....cause even after decades of unuse the unwary (and unlucky) can go for a swim!... Or a drowning if no ones around to help you out!


A major issue many people have with HOAs is the way they are structured, many times get hijacked and controlled by a couple of people. The people that gain control of the HOA can impose fines and basically run anyone out they want. HOAs easily become mini tyrant kingdoms where property “owners” have no real rights and no recourse from abuse. The idea and concept is good but the legal structure and what they usually grow into is bad.



A testament to the wisdom of involving oneself in local politics if I ever heard one!
I don't know when they quit teaching civics courses in high school, but every rule is subject to committee .... and the uninvolved are unrepresented entirely.
The old west cattle barons tried to stay aloof from the process of law and stood on their rights as original settlers, landowners, and the old standard of might equals right.
It gained them loss after loss until the Cattlemen's Associations were founded.

 
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I find I have to counter the thoughts that there are nefarious reasons for regulations.
As stated earlier one reason is to ensure "calcutta" is not reproduced elsewhere.
I have seen these comments throughout this post;

I desire without greasing the palms of every small town politician I encounter.


Most of the pages of regulations and codes can be traced back to two things 1- maintaining property values 2-supporting the industry's you will need to dump money into to build the home in compliance. As usual it's about the $$$.


Not sure why vacant land taxes are $407 a year,



I doubt I have seen such cynicism elsewhere.

As Bill suggested the importance of being involved in the local community if you don't want silly regulations, corrupt politicians or noisey neighbours.
But remember the plague in the 1500's, big cities without clean water and sewerage in the 1800's and earlier killing 1000's, buildings collapsing because of dodgy business people and now being replicated in  India and Bangladesh all because nobody did anything about it.
.

Its normal for vacant land to have tax levied as a contribution to the cost of running the county.
Even if its just keeping a road or track clear so you can get there.
Remember Tax is the price of a civilised society.



 
Christopher Westmore
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Stacy Witscher wrote:Yeah, I've with an HOA in the SF Bay Area. It wasn't a problem at first, but overtime they got absurd.



I once lived in one of the biggest HOAs in the US. The neighbors were snotty to us because we were “renters”. I had one neighbor who was a typical suburban “one up the Jones” cocky jerk, he started reporting me for “violations”. Every week I would get these HOA letters, you put the trash can out 30mins too early, didn't trim the edges of my lawn well enough, left a shovel out in the front yard all night.
I looked up the HOA bylaws, they were massive.. more then 20 sections each section was 30-300 pages long. Everything was covered.. from the curb to the roof peak.

So once a week I would make a cup of tea and go out and look at his house and find a “violation”(it was easy) cracked driveway slab, wrong type of roof shingles, bush too far from house,, After 60-90 days every week there was a contractor at his house fixing the violations. After 4 months he sold the home and moved.

Everyone hated the HOA because they would get frivolous violations. The HOA would say that more then 90% of the violations were reported and they do not have time to go out and find them themselves.

I was glad to move out of that “community”.

Bill Haynes wrote:
I don't know when they quit teaching civics courses in high school, but every rule is subject to committee .... and the uninvolved are unrepresented entirely.



I also wonder about this, the only thing that resembles civics I hear about now is FFA. Too many people now days just refer to public groups and structures as “they” or “the system”.  
 
Roger Klawinski
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John C Daley wrote:
Remember Tax is the price of a civilised society.



Cynicism for counties with heavy restrictions on the property they are expecting tax revenue from is my angle here.

Do I believe in paying my fair share of taxes? Absolutely. But in doing so, I should have the right to use my property within the purview of local, state and federal law without code enforcement cherry-picking every last thing I do.

Also, it was not the fact that vacant land had taxes levied; it was a mere observation that I normally see vacant lots have at or less than $150 assessed annually. $407 was just a surprise to me.



 
Alec Buchanan
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So... how are other permies (legally) catching their rainwater? Or (legally) using off-grid solar? Or (legally) composting humanure? Any natural builders that have gone through the trouble of permitting and regulations? Are people really waiting until they find a place with "no restrictions" before they begin their permie lives?

It seems like it'd cost a fortune for me to do things by the book. I also wouldn't be allowed to have an off-grid solar setup. Building a permittable home, with all its requirements, would be completely impossible without joining the rat race.
Am I the only person here that thinks it is just as important for people to live responsibly (earth care, people care) as it is to follow the rules? I'm not advocating for recklessness or ignorance, but I do think that waiting for laws to catch up with the permaculture world is unrealistic. I doubt permies are going to change the world by following the rulebook, and since there is so much urgency to repair and nurture the planet, shouldn't we reprioritize? I'm not worried about getting a slap on the wrist from an official if it means I get to live the life I am supposed to live. Totally worth it.  

Just saying.... I don't think I would have ever become a permie if the motto was "follow the rules".
Also, just saying... you CAN get away with permaculture - just DO IT! There are lots of ways to make it happen, and you don't need a place with no restrictions.

This is planet Earth. Can I get an amen, or am I really that radical? Anyone?
 
Stacy Witscher
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Alec - I very much agree with you. And I would suspect that a lot of us are doing some things legally while skirting around the edges of legality with others, as I am. Rainwater catchment here in Oregon is legal as long as it's collected off of a hard surface aka a roof. Where I live has no grid, so off-grid is allowed, although my system wasn't permitted. Septic tanks are required but they don't come and check that they are being used.

The big thing here for me is that you can't just build more houses regardless of size. My property has two houses, which is unusual here. I could legally enlarge them to mega houses, but can't build new ones, even tiny houses. Thankfully, a house here is defined by having a kitchen so the plan is to build detached bedrooms and an outdoor kitchen. Often people here will add studio apartments to garages to get around permitting issues.

Personally, if I was in a different position, I would try to have a tiny house on someone else's property or join an intentional community, rather than fight the authorities to camp/tiny house on my land by myself, but that's just me.
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