Tuesday, August 23, 2005


The enormous beauty of mountain landscapes in the Greater Asheville, North Carolina is captivating. Many potential investors in the Western North Carolina area long for an escape from the heat or a respite from the hectic pace of life where peaceful tranquility, scenic beauty and fresh mountain air welcome them home.

With all the beauty that surrounds you, you could jump into buying property without taking into account various factors that could influence your decision. So here’s a word of caution to buyers of small acreages and building lots— think about the following:

Taxes: May or may not be assessed. While they may be minimal if the property is not developed, in a few years, you will need to plan for this.

Home Owners’ Associations and Dues: These could be minimal or nonexistent…but you need to ask about this.

Water and Sewage: If you are NOT in the city or on a private municipal system, please do be aware that you will need or must install an individual well and septic... If you are looking in a development, it might be wise to ask if underground utilities are in or are planned. Underground utilities help keep the scenic beauty of your property alive.

Septic System: If you are NOT in the city, it is most likely that you will need to install a septic system. You will need to know if the land you are interested in has percolated…has passed the perc test... NOTE: In terms of investing in property, make your Offer to Purchase and Contract contingent on passing perc tests.

Process: You would have to obtain IMPROVEMENT PERMITS (see below the following general information)

You must get a septic permit prior to obtaining any building permits or initiating construction. Sites proposed for development are evaluated for suitability of septic systems in accordance with North Carolina sewage disposal laws and rules under the authority of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Roughly half of the population in Buncombe County depends on septic tank systems for sewage disposal generating an estimated 10 million gallons of wastewater per day to be treated by ground absorption septic tank systems.

Effective January 1, 2005, the "Groundwater Protection Rules" adopted by the Buncombe County Local Board of Health will require that a well permit be obtained prior to drilling a well in the County. Wells will be inspected by environmental health staff to ensure compliance with existing State well construction standards. Properly constructed wells reduce the chances of groundwater contamination from surface contaminants. An application for a well permit must be submitted in conjunction with all septic permit applications except where municipal, community, shared, or other water supplies are available to serve the intended project.

Applications for septic and well permits and required fees can be submitted at the Environmental Health Division located on the second floor of the Health Center.

Improvement Permits:
If you are planning to purchase a building lot or property for future development and public sewer is not available you may obtain an IMPROVEMENT PERMIT before you invest. An Improvement Permit indicates that a septic tank system may be installed for your specified project provided that the property is not altered or modified in a manner that may render the site unsuitable. Improvement Permits are valid for at least five years. If the application includes an engineered plat detailing the exact location of the structure and the septic tank system, in addition to a detailed site plan, an Improvement Permit with no expiration date may be issued. An IMPROVEMENT PERMIT will include:

A description of the facility the proposed site is to serve.
The proposed wastewater system and its location
The design wastewater flow and characteristics
The conditions for any site modifications
Any other information required by the rules pertinent to the specific site

Improvement permits are not affected by change in ownership of the site for the wastewater system provided both the site for the wastewater system and the facility the system serves are not changed and remain under the ownership or control of the person owning the facility.

Sample Application:
Cost of Septic System: $1,000- 10,000+/-
Cost of Perc Test...$500 (as I recall)

Private Well: Depending on how deep you need to go this could cost in the thousands of dollars...

Access: Roads…are they in place?.. are they gravel, dirt, paved?... and/or are they still under construction ? What costs are involved here, and what shared right -0f-way?

Lot size: Find out if the lot/acreage you are interested in has been surveyed. If your parcel is 10 acres, it can be subdivides…but you will need to check on the deed restrictions to see what they allow.

Deed Restrictions: Deed restrictions can be gentle or strict. Be sure to get a copy of the deed restrictions prior to investing in property.

Building/Inspections Fees:

Flooding: At what elevation is the property and is it in a flood plain?

Prior Use: Had there been prior use which could affect the quality of the land .was it a farm? Were toxic chemicals used here?

Bottom line:
1. Talk with a knowledgeable person before you invest...such as a member of the FOR^TERRA TEAM at Asheville 1031/Eco-STEWARD REALTY, Inc.

2. When looking at acreages and building lots...be sure to add in at least $20,000 to $50,000 to the cost if well and septic are required and are not in place....

Please let me know what you think...

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