I have to say, teaming up with other owner-builders on Instagram has been a lot of fun! Its great hearing other perspectives and seeing what the differences are across the country.
This week’s discussion is site prep. The first few videos on our channel cover this along with some of our earlier blog posts. This is some extra information and details about the process as a whole instead of in the chronological order of our specific build.
Our property was overgrown and hard to access, so we had to dig out the entrance, add a path back to the build site, and clear the unwanted trees/brush. While the site looked pretty “flat” it’s amazing how much grading you still need to do. That meant a LOT of gravel. It was a significant expense, and an oops too. We miscalculated how much we’d need and ended up going over budget by $10,000 on that part.
Utilities and access are going to vary depending on where you’re located. Here in Iowa we are hooked up to rural water instead of a well. We prefer having our own well, but decided to wait and save the money initially. It’s something we could do later on. There are power lines that run through our property, so having electric wasn’t a big deal at all! We did inquire about burying the lines, but it was a big expense. They’re technically part of the view, but we hardly notice them.
Getting internet to our property was the most expensive utility. We paid almost $2300 to have a line brought from the main box to our house. Of course you could skip this and go satellite, but we wanted our most dependable option since we both work from home.
Every city, county, and state has their own requirements. We feel so lucky to be living in Madison County. It’s not only a great community, but they’re really great to work with on the build side. When we got started, we pulled a build permit which meant construction had to begin within 18 months of that. No requirements on when it needs to be complete- that’s a big plus for a self build! The thing they’re pickiest about is a septic system. They wouldn’t allow us to build a shop or anything without having the septic system. We submitted our house plans and they set the requirements for our system. Plenty of people comment on our video that it seems like overkill, and maybe it is, but we did what was required.
Overall the state of Iowa allows for a self build, except when it comes to the electrical work. They require that an electrical contractor who employs a master electrician pull the permit. The work has to be inspected after rough in and again when the home is complete. Thankfully we found a contractor that was willing to let us assist and save some money on labor.
We’ve amassed a tool and equipment collection after many years of doing projects, but we still rented some of it. That’s a viable option for your build if you’re planning to take some time off and get a part of the clearing done all at once. If you aren’t able to work on your project consistently, you may want to consider purchasing a skid steer and/or backhoe. You can sell it when the project is finished to help pay for interior finishes.
For rentals we like to go through BigRentz. They partner with your local equipment rental companies and make it EASY to get what you need. It takes the hassle out of calling around trying to find what you need and figure out how to get it to your property.
If you’d like to watch or read more about our build, here are some of the episodes I recommend:
Read about it here: https://marshallremodel.com/clearing-land-ep-1/
Read about it here: https://marshallremodel.com/gravel-ep2/
Here are the links to our channel, site, and social media pages: