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Is it possible to get a permit to build a house without utilities?

Discussion in 'Back to Basics' started by IwishIwasaDog, Jan 31, 2016.

  1. IwishIwasaDog

    IwishIwasaDog Neophyte Monkey

    First, I'm sorry if this is a common question. I've tried dozens of Google searches and searches all over this website without any answers.

    I was talking with an older gentleman today who told me that it's no longer legal to build a livable habitation anywhere in the U.S. without having electricity and running water set up. You simply can't get a permit anywhere for a dry cabin, and that's the reason why you see so many tiny houses, for the shed and cabin exception.

    I thought this was only true in some states, and in urban areas. I don't intend to build a dry cabin, and I'd like to install solar panels and gravity fed plumbing with a manual-pump well when I get mine, but do I have to have those utilities just for a permit to build on my own property?

    Also, am I really required to have a permit, no matter how far in the boondocks I go, just to modify or add additions to my property, and am I required to have structure inspections? Is this every state, or are there some states that don't enforce this in rural areas?

    Thank you.
  2. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    This is a 100 percent local question. Every location will have its own rules to follow. You'll have to find out when you settle on the where to set up.
    3cyl and Motomom34 like this.
  3. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Come to Alaska, and build, out in the Bush.... We have NO Building Codes, for Residential Buildings, where I live... You can build whatever you want...
    Dunerunner likes this.
  4. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey..... Moderator Site Supporter++

    There are many places nationally that allow a dry cabin, you just need to determine that local and if it fits your needs. Ghrit is dead right, you need to check local ordinances and determine what is the best fit for your plans.

    Welcome to the Monkey!!!
  5. VHestin

    VHestin Farm Chick

    Yeah, it depends on your local area. Check out county websites where you are thinking about moving, they usually have all that stuff up there.
    Motomom34 likes this.
  6. Legion489

    Legion489 Shining the Light of Truth

    What you are looking for is a place with no city/county zoning.
  7. Tevin

    Tevin Monkey+

    The short answer is yes.

    It's done all the time in my area, although you have to be a bit sneaky about it. There is undeveloped acreage for sale all over the place, usually classified as hunting or recreation land. There are a few hunting cabins but most people do not build any permanent structures on their plot. They will camp, pull a trailer in, etc. There are no rules about how long you can stay before you're considered "living there." A few around here do this. The land is "undeveloped" so technically there is nothing to get a permit for.

    Here's the catch: Financing for undeveloped land is much tighter than for a property with a house on it. The banks differentiate between a mortgage and a land deal. Not many people can meet the requirements for a land deal, so it's not done that often. I learned about this when I looked into buying some neighboring vacant property to expand my spread.

    You also do not get mortgage interest deductions and cannot enroll your kids in school.

    As mentioned, local ordinances will control what you can do. But yes, it's done all the time.
    Motomom34 and Cruisin Sloth like this.
  8. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey..... Moderator Site Supporter++

    Cash is king in that case Tevin!! ;)
    3cyl likes this.
  9. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey++

    On the subject of financing, my sister bought a remote solar home and had to use owner financing, because the banks would not loan money on property if commercial power was not available to it. So you either have to go that route, or cash. Cash is always the best option anyway.

    When you avoid the mortgage rackets, it costs you bundle up front. Establishment prefers to discourage a lifestyle where its participants aren't locked into a pattern of monthly payments in some form, be it mortgage, utilities, credit cards, etc. Or so it seems.
    Tevin likes this.
  10. T. Riley

    T. Riley Monkey+++ Site Supporter++

    Built my home in rural East Texas without any permits or inspections. It depends on the location and financing, if any. Bank will not likely finance it without utilities because they will not think it will have much resale value during foreclosure.
    Cruisin Sloth likes this.
  11. Tevin

    Tevin Monkey+

    When I looked into it, the bank told me that if the property did not have a "livable structure" on it, then it was considered a land deal, not a mortgage. You have to pay 20% down and the rest over five years. The interest rate is much higher, and the amount they will qualify you for is much lower, too. Not many people can swing that, and that's why these properties stay listed for many months and even years.

    Obviously, if you can pay cash, then you avoid all of this.

    In addition to the other vagaries of doing this, you may also have issues with insurance.

    @Cruisin Sloth , the issue with the schools depends on the school. Around here living "off grid" isn't common, but it's not considered way out there either and the schools are mostly OK with it. If you have kids you want to send to school, make sure you check into the district policy before you lay down any big money.

    Undeveloped land is taxed at a lower rate, so may schools don't like "off grid kids" because their parents are getting what some might consider an unfair discount.

    In many areas, you can't have it both ways: Saying you don't live there (when you really do) to avoid zoning laws, yet claiming you live there to get your kids in school.
  12. Tikka

    Tikka Monkey+++

    That may have been the bank you approached.

    As the purchaser can walk away losing only their down payment leaving the bank stuck with the property; banks vary on loaning for land.
    Today, people buy recreational land, hunting land, etc. so there maybe an avenue.

    This site offers some insight:
    Land Loans: What You Should Know | Bankrate.com
  13. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Monkey

    I don't know why you have to get a permit to build a shack out in the middle of nowhere, anyway. The next owner will either marvel at your ingenuity and superior design or knock it down and build something else. But city folk want protection of their property values and the cities, counties and states see this as a perfect opportunity to make a little money for doing nothing but enforcing their building codes.
  14. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey Site Supporter

    Built our place, had the Electric Co-op set a pole for my construction.

    They never came back!

    I paid the cost of the meter loop and a breaker.

    Everything electrical is under ground and utilities run about $100 for ALL the buildings, well etc..
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