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Any suggestions on how to have a small house and save on septic and well?  RSS feed

 
Marie Maria
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I was told that any small house, no matter how small it is, that will be used to live in (even if it's weekends only) must have septic, well and driveway. Here is the cost that the realtor e-mailed me, Well and septic $15-18K, Foundation and all the hook ups ( water , electric,driveway and permits another $15-20K).

I was looking at the area of Delaware water gap south of Milford, PA. I wanted to be on the water.

Any suggestions on doing this cheaper?

To clarify further, we wanted to build a small house or have one on wheels that we can come to on weekends and maybe rent it out when not in use. If we go with standard well, septic, that would be 40K and with the house and land it could cost almost 100K, which is crazy.

Any ideas how to do this on the cheap?
 
Alder Burns
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If you are only going to be there on weekends, have a camper or a cabin or whatever and call it "camping". Or even a nice big roomy tent with a stove.
A lot of the issue with quasi-legality lies in the matter of enforcement. Who will notice you on the land? Do they have any reason to "report" you? Don't give them any and that's 75% of the solution.
When I was homesteading in GA on two different sites, I learned several principles to follow to stay "under the radar" of the permitting authorities:
1. Don't build anything large, which will get noticed on aerial tax assessment flyovers. The more hidden and/or temporary looking, the better.
2. Stay off grid…..the power company often won't hook up an unpermitted building. One way around this is to call it a construction site and run the power to a pole with outlets.
3. Forget the insurance. An insurance company, to avoid fraud, will want to confirm that a building actually exists on the property, and they will contact the county to find out.
4. Depending on how well the various offices of your county communicate with each other, it might be prudent to get a post office box in town rather than have a mailbox at the driveway. (But as "weekenders", that's probably not an issue)
5. But as stated above, by far the most important is don't piss off the neighbors and don't make enemies. If someone reports something out of the ordinary on the place, then officials are duty bound to investigate.
 
Amedean Messan
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Marie Maria wrote:I was told that any small house, no matter how small it is, that will be used to live in (even if it's weekends only) must have septic, well and driveway. Here is the cost that the realtor e-mailed me, Well and septic $15-18K, Foundation and all the hook ups ( water , electric,driveway and permits another $15-20K).


I think for your situation and desires a house on wheels is a better investment.
 
Peter DeJay
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Location: Southern Oregon
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Like most things, there is more then one way to go about something. Every person you ask will have different answers. Here are my relevant thoughts to your situation:

When your property has a well and septic on it, you can get away with so much more as far as eccentric building styles. There are ways around having them but they will scrutinize other things more so.

Yes, if you ask someone to quote you prices for those things they will give you general figures, usually higher. Wells are harder to get around as far as doing them yourself or for cheaper, but septics yo can do most of the work yourself. You might need an approved installer to do the final connections or to do a final inspection, but you can certainly dig the field and runs yourself, and probably do most of the work yourself.

The cost of wells is dependent on the depth. If you know you have a good shallow water table then a well couple be as little as $5000.00

It is possible to get away with a composting toilet in some places, but again, they will be a bit more leery of other projects you do.

Power is a tricky one as there are monthly charges associated with having power even if its not being used. Also, if you have a well, naturally you need a ready supply of power. Solar of course is an option, depending on resources. As someone said, you can have a "temporary" power pole set up, as if for a construction site, but the issue with that is it has a time limit on it. If you arent actively constructing they might start to question it. On the other hand, if you do have a building that you are actively constructing, you can probably stretch it for many years.

There must be a way to have a power hook up as if you were going to have a mobile home, i just am not personally familiar with the process and requirements.

Where do you live? Do you know much about local restrictions?

 
Marie Maria
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Amedean Messan wrote:
Marie Maria wrote:I was told that any small house, no matter how small it is, that will be used to live in (even if it's weekends only) must have septic, well and driveway. Here is the cost that the realtor e-mailed me, Well and septic $15-18K, Foundation and all the hook ups ( water , electric,driveway and permits another $15-20K).


I think for your situation and desires a house on wheels is a better investment.


That is what I thought until they told me that even that structure would require well and septic.
 
Marie Maria
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Alder Burns wrote:If you are only going to be there on weekends, have a camper or a cabin or whatever and call it "camping". Or even a nice big roomy tent with a stove.
A lot of the issue with quasi-legality lies in the matter of enforcement. Who will notice you on the land? Do they have any reason to "report" you? Don't give them any and that's 75% of the solution.
When I was homesteading in GA on two different sites, I learned several principles to follow to stay "under the radar" of the permitting authorities:
1. Don't build anything large, which will get noticed on aerial tax assessment flyovers. The more hidden and/or temporary looking, the better.
2. Stay off grid…..the power company often won't hook up an unpermitted building. One way around this is to call it a construction site and run the power to a pole with outlets.
3. Forget the insurance. An insurance company, to avoid fraud, will want to confirm that a building actually exists on the property, and they will contact the county to find out.
4. Depending on how well the various offices of your county communicate with each other, it might be prudent to get a post office box in town rather than have a mailbox at the driveway. (But as "weekenders", that's probably not an issue)
5. But as stated above, by far the most important is don't piss off the neighbors and don't make enemies. If someone reports something out of the ordinary on the place, then officials are duty bound to investigate.


With all the research I have done, even a house of wheels would set me back 35K. I cannot make it myself. Can I insure it all? Can I tell them it stays on the land part of the time?
 
Marie Maria
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Peter DeJay wrote:Like most things, there is more then one way to go about something. Every person you ask will have different answers. Here are my relevant thoughts to your situation:

When your property has a well and septic on it, you can get away with so much more as far as eccentric building styles. There are ways around having them but they will scrutinize other things more so.

Yes, if you ask someone to quote you prices for those things they will give you general figures, usually higher. Wells are harder to get around as far as doing them yourself or for cheaper, but septics yo can do most of the work yourself. You might need an approved installer to do the final connections or to do a final inspection, but you can certainly dig the field and runs yourself, and probably do most of the work yourself.

The cost of wells is dependent on the depth. If you know you have a good shallow water table then a well couple be as little as $5000.00

It is possible to get away with a composting toilet in some places, but again, they will be a bit more leery of other projects you do.

Power is a tricky one as there are monthly charges associated with having power even if its not being used. Also, if you have a well, naturally you need a ready supply of power. Solar of course is an option, depending on resources. As someone said, you can have a "temporary" power pole set up, as if for a construction site, but the issue with that is it has a time limit on it. If you arent actively constructing they might start to question it. On the other hand, if you do have a building that you are actively constructing, you can probably stretch it for many years.

There must be a way to have a power hook up as if you were going to have a mobile home, i just am not personally familiar with the process and requirements.

Where do you live? Do you know much about local restrictions?



I suppose I can investigate how shallow the water table is. And NO they will NOT allow anything less than septic. The place is in Pike county Pennsylvania.
 
Marie Maria
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When I approached the whole process I thought I would get a little house on wheels and come and enjoy the scenery and water on my lot.

It looks like I better look for a tiny cabin. The whole point is to have a tiny home.
 
Amedean Messan
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I still do not see how it is possible for them to say the home on wheels needs septic. This cannot be legally enforced, its movable. They cannot outlaw a car because its has no septic system either and transportable homes are lawful in all states.

Who is "they" specifically?
 
S Bengi
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They may have a limit on how many weeks you can stay at the site in your "RV". But they cannot tell you that you cant stay there and unless they have someone recording how long you stay there. There is no proof that you overstayed the "visit" to your land. And even if they do have proof. The fine is usually a few dollars.

Again unless you made enemies with the neighbors or have someone from your RV calling the Firefighters/Police/EMT on multiple occasions then you are ok.
 
Peter Ellis
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I think your problem is summed up in the words "realtor" and "Milford, PA".

The realtor is used to working within certain parameters, and you are looking at a town with lots of zoning and land use regulations.

I will be very surprised if you can find a legal way around those requirements in that location.
 
Marie Maria
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Amedean Messan wrote:I still do not see how it is possible for them to say the home on wheels needs septic. This cannot be legally enforced, its movable. They cannot outlaw a car because its has no septic system either and transportable homes are lawful in all states.

Who is "they" specifically?


"They" is the construction officer. A realtor contacted him, e-mailed him some pictures of what I wanted to make and that was it. His words were "if it's gonna be lived in, it needs a well and septic".
 
S Bengi
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You should have had a RV sales man. contact the right person in the county office.
They make money off selling RVs and have the right connections, whereas the realtor make more money off selling house and that is the path you are being led down.
 
Marie Maria
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Peter Ellis wrote:I think your problem is summed up in the words "realtor" and "Milford, PA".

The realtor is used to working within certain parameters, and you are looking at a town with lots of zoning and land use regulations.

I will be very surprised if you can find a legal way around those requirements in that location.



I usually don't work with one specific realtor. I called several and in some other counties. I got pretty much the same response. I try to get the listing agent to show me the property, but sometimes you need to work with someone else. If the listing agent feels the offer is too low, they don't even present it to the buyer and I know it's the law, but how can I prove it otherwise.

What other locations can I explore? I wanted to be within 150 or so miles from Philadelphia. Poconos are horrible taxes wise. A house that is valued at 60-75K may have almost 3K in taxes.

 
Marie Maria
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S Bengi wrote:You should have had a RV sales man. contact the right person in the county office.
They make money off selling RVs and have the right connections, whereas the realtor make more money off selling house and that is the path you are being led down.


Interesting!!

But, when I kept saying, it's an RV like, but looks like a house, the county official said yes she can have an RV in an RV park. I don't want the park or the RV.
 
S Bengi
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As long as it is on wheels less than 8.5ft wide. It is an RV dont mention that it has black or pink or wood siding. Just that it is self contained and on wheels. less than 400sqft etc etc. They will not come and check and if you have a vin frame you should be ok even then
 
Marie Maria
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Follow up. I went to see a cabin and the agent wanted to me to come in a sign something before going to the cabin. I wouldn't because I said my husband has to read it first. So, off we go and see this piece of you know what (not visible on the photos listed online) that is ready to fall apart or better yet "We will be fixing something every time we come"

I do not like realtors period. Those that are honest, accept my apologies. But this morning I am reading what he wanted me to sign. It says if he makes less than $1750 from the shared commission, I owe him the difference. He just said sign here and that was it. A young kid would have signed without reading. Once I was offered to sign (in another state), that the realtor will receive commission for the next 6 months from whatever I bought in the state. I didn't sign that either.

We now have to try to find something that would allow a tiny (brand new) home.

 
Adam Moore
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Have you thought of getting a Yurt? It's not a building or a home on wheels. Just a sturdy tent on a deck. I have heard of a lot of people getting past regulations that way.
 
Marie Maria
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Adam Moore wrote:Have you thought of getting a Yurt? It's not a building or a home on wheels. Just a sturdy tent on a deck. I have heard of a lot of people getting past regulations that way.


That would be easy to break into.

 
Amedean Messan
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Marie Maria wrote:
Adam Moore wrote:Have you thought of getting a Yurt? It's not a building or a home on wheels. Just a sturdy tent on a deck. I have heard of a lot of people getting past regulations that way.


That would be easy to break into.



House on wheels, no because they said I cant. Tiny home is too expensive for foundation and septic. Yurt, no because its easy to break into. You sound like you want a home but do not want the expenses associated with it and there is no compromise. If you ask me there has to be a compromise somewhere or there is no solution.
 
Marie Maria
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Amedean Messan wrote:
Marie Maria wrote:
Adam Moore wrote:Have you thought of getting a Yurt? It's not a building or a home on wheels. Just a sturdy tent on a deck. I have heard of a lot of people getting past regulations that way.


That would be easy to break into.



House on wheels, no because they said I cant. Tiny home is too expensive for foundation and septic. Yurt, no because its easy to break into. You sound like you want a home but do not want the expenses associated with it and there is no compromise. If you ask me there has to be a compromise somewhere or there is no solution.



All of those options don't allow for rental. Even a yurt has to be approved to be lived in.

I want this one, but it's too far.
http://tinyhouselistings.com/off-grid-orchard-garden-13-acres/
 
Adam Moore
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Wow Marie, the view from that property is amazing.
 
Marie Maria
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Adam Moore wrote:Wow Marie, the view from that property is amazing.


I am tasting the fruit already!
 
Jeff Higdon
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A shallow dug well can be cheaper. In my area, there is a water table less than 20' deep.
I got a quote of $300 per day for the digging (should be do able in a day), and $1000 for the cement tiles to stack in the hole.

Shallow well pumps are much cheaper.

Also, if the water table is deeper still, but less than 50', one can hand drive a well with a sand point.

 
Randy Jones
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Adam Moore wrote:Have you thought of getting a Yurt? It's not a building or a home on wheels. Just a sturdy tent on a deck. I have heard of a lot of people getting past regulations that way.
I really like the look of a yurt but the high wind do pose a big threat. The yurts with the dome on top is cool to catch a peak around the property while in the loft.
 
R Scott
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150 miles of Philly is going to be heavily zoned. Even the Amish have to put in running water and septic in some areas of PA.
 
Topher Belknap
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Randy Jones wrote:I really like the look of a yurt but the high wind do pose a big threat.


Yurts are indigenous to the Himalayan plateau. I am dubious that wind could know one down.
 
Misty Robinson
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Have you considered a composting toilet with a solar composting septic tank that you build yourself? You may be able to have it permitted as an experimental septic system see video
also here is an article about a vermicomposting flush toilet system http://www.permaculture.co.uk/readers-solutions/how-make-vermicomposting-flush-toilet Hope this info is helpful and inspiring. Good luck with your tiny home
 
n covington
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In my area, a "shed" does not require any building permits.  You can build a shed 10x10 or 12x24, same difference.  They don't call it a "garage" until you park a car in it.  They don't call it a "barn" until you keep animals in it. 

There is a guy in town with an empty property, just a shed, and he's got an electric meter hooked up to it.  I'm not sure if he needed an electric permit or not... but no building permit, no zoning permit, and no occupancy permit. 
 
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