Property Development Guide
- Plan your project carefully.
- Check zoning and uses that your zoning permits; consider changing
your zoning and the costs involved subject to your needs.
- Get a clear picture of the development process and costs.
There may be requirements for easements, boundary line surveys
and/or adjustments, utility easements, soil tests, various inspections
from both contractors and local regulatory agencies; local assessment
fees for sewers, streets, curbs, gutters, schools, archeological
surveys, botanical and environmental studies, and even payments
to the Department of Fish and Game may cost you lots of time
- Talk with your favorite contractor to get an idea of square
footage costs for any structures you're planning to build; he/she
can offer many suggestions that will facilitate your progress
including hints as to how to save on time and money by completing
certain tasks yourself versus hiring them out.
- Stay on good terms with your local planning and building departments.
I can't say enough good about everyone I've had the good fortune
to work with at the Mendocino
County Planning Department. They, being(s) like
most of us, are really helpful or, inversely, extremely difficult
if approached unkindly and if your relationship is combative.
- Consider optimum siting for your improvements relative to
access, solar exposure, privacy, slope, drainage, exposure to
wind and the other elements; your comfort, safety, and security.
- Walk your ground often before building and at different seasons
if possible. Observe drainage, how the sun hits your site -
or not - at the heights of the seasons, how the site is affected
by the elements at different times of year.
- Know your property boundaries. If you're going to build fences,
make sure they're going in the right places. Don't tear any
old fences down or put new fences up too hastily; converse with
your neighbors about the property and fencelines so that when
the fence goes up, it's in just the right place. Similarly,
when your new neighbor arrives on their newly purchased homesite
next to yours, make sure you look after your quarter mile of
hundred-year-old split rail or stone fencing. I have a story
or two about the above that will further illustrate the necessity
of clear definition and communication.
- Investigate the impact of your development upon local flora
and fauna and vice versa. You may wish to avoid a deer trail,
stand of trees, or proximity to a creek for various reasons.
- If you're going to build anything on a concrete slab, make
the slab tall - contrary to popular belief, the ground does
indeed grow and will, up and onto your slab - to avoid moisture,
drainage, and pest problems years up the road.
- Plan for the long term - will growing trees block your view
or more importantly, your sunlight? If your neighbors build
nearby, how will that affect your property? Will traffic on
your access road increase? Consider maintenance costs and sustaining
ongoing demands on your resources. You can count on change,
consider how it will affect you.
- Consider natural disasters - fire, flooding, storms, freezing,
tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes - and their impact upon
you and your property. Be prepared. Build well.
- Most of all, as much as you can, be kind to the earth, water,
sky and the residents, including humans, already there. "Development"
can be one of the worst phenomena or events, sustained or otherwise,
that can happen to (or be visited upon) you or a neighborhood,
perceived or no.
- Be mindful.