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Have the land... now what?

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  • Have the land... now what?

    So I recently bought a plot of land in the Willow area. It's a small lot with lakefront, and mostly cleared/graveled. There was a dry cabin once upon a time, but everything has been removed. This will be mainly for family summer recreational use for a few years until we can afford to put some sort of structure in. We will probably park our travel trailer on it during the summer, and haul it back out for winter storage. But as I sit here and brainstorm for the future, I realize... I simply have no clue.

    Some of the things I'm struggling with are the order of operations. The goal is to eventually have a permanent structure and possibly become a full time residence when we hit the retirement years. Based on this goal, I'd like a well and a septic system eventually put in (a neighbor said their well was 100 feet deep). Because the lot is fairly small (1/2 acre), I would like to plan for doing things in the right order. I think it makes sense to have these two things go in first so that there is room to operate the equipment without a structure in the way. Is this right? Can the well and septic be put in and then.... I don't know... capped (?) for later hook up? If I do these things sooner rather than later, could I use them with the camper (sort of like my own personal RV Camp with full hookups)?

    So, for this city dweller... what's the best place to start? Are there classes? A company or two who does this stuff that I should start talking to? Other things I don't even know to ask?

    Grateful for any feedback.

  • #2
    My priorities usually go something like this:

    1. Access
    2. Electric
    3. Secure storage
    4. Temporary quarters/camper
    5. Water/sewer (could be anything from jugs in the back of your car and a hole in the ground, to $30k worth of well and septic)
    6. You're ready to build!
    "– Gas boats are bad enough, autos are an invention of the devil, and airplanes are worse." ~Allen Hasselborg


    • #3
      You could get a water well driller and septic installer to visit your site to discuss options. There are required separation distances for the two. You need to determine if you have enough room for that, especially since the location of those items on neighboring lots must also be considered.
      Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.


      • #4
        Yes.......that, Plus the required set-back from the lake frontage, and being only a half acre in size, and as you point out the neighbors on three sides Water Well and Septic locations, offers a high risk of options for the property. "Hopefully" this was fully explored before purchase.
        "Life Is Either a Daring Adventure or Nothing" - Helen Keller


        • #5
          As AGL4now stated knowing all the setbacks is a first. I helped clear a lot for a guy once and put in the driveway. "Where is the property line?" Near here somewhere was the answer. So apparently we cleared alders by hand 50' onto the other guys lot. As he was upgrading his driveway one day I asked him why he was only doing only one side. He said that the original driveway was only 2' from the property line. So "legally" he can't clear snow from the uphill side of the driveway as he would have to push it onto the neighbors land. Legally, he should apply for a variance in the setback from the property line for the driveway. Knowing all the setbacks, right of ways, restrictions, property lines and covenants is a first order of business.

          Patriot Life Member NRA
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          Life Member Disabled American Veterans


          • #6
            Good luck! Not meant to be mean, but most time these things go great and some times...

            As I remember: the well and any part of the septic system must be at least 100 ft. apart. You should also know if any others are near your property.

            For us any building must be at least 10 ft. from the property line. We moved our cabin several times getting it out of the way of our new home building site. The last time we added just a little more distance so there'd be plenty of drive room between the house and cabin. When the final survey came back we had the cabin 0.4 ft. too close to the property line. I still can't figure out how that is, but the survey company makes the $ for knowing how to do it. We get to move the cabin one more time! (No one cares about the 0.4 ft. but us.)

            You "can" install your own septic system...if all goes well. We hired an engineer to design and oversee construction of our septic system. We needed something more than the basic system. Our neighbor (lot on lake front) told me it was cheaper to hire engineers than lawyers. His system is a two part job with some of it pumped to the top of his lot away from the lake to enter the septic field. You need to check into setbacks from water for everything.

            You can check to see what is in your area IF the projects (well and septic) were registered with the State.

            Be ready for the unknown. We thought our land was pretty virgin with a dry cabin on it. After the well and septic system went well for us, the construction started (several years latter) with digging for the foundation...up comes rotted stumps and copper pipe??? Kind of in the middle of nowhere someone had dug a trench, installed water line to the edge of the property, and then filled in the trench with stumps and logs. All that trash had to be dug up and replaced with good fill.

            As a side note: a piece of property near us changed hands. The new owners moved their RV trailer onto the land next to their new house. Some *$^@ tried to steal it and only failed because they turned too sharp and got the trailer stuck in the snow. Cost the new owner $$$ to get a wrecker out to get his trailer back onto the road so he could move it back to his full time home for repairs.


            • #7
              You can look up neighboring septic designs here:

              (if applicable)


              • #8
                We are a certified installer with AK DEC and we also drill water wells. Not in your locale so wouldn’t be of any help for the actual work. There has been some good advice here. Some systems can be done through the certified installer program if certain criteria can be met, others require a civil engineer. Engineers can obtain a variance for just about anything. There are some secondary treatment systems that really do work well but do require an engineers stamp. We have installed several Anua Puraflow systems that are easy to maintain and installation is a snap. Not cheap. <br/><br/>In terms of your well, the state does not regulate water sources for private use. There are regulations for public water systems. This does not preclude a municipality from having regulations though so check on that. <br/><br/>The DEC record keeping is woefully lacking. The link posted above may indicate part of the picture, but not all of it. They don’t really know what’s out there. That and there’s been hundreds and hundreds of bootlegged systems installed over the decades. is an excellent resource for all things wastewater. He is in the Soldotna office but can hook you up with information for anywhere in the state. <br/><br/>What you are proposing to do at your property is a reasonable and sensible approach. Not a thing wrong with setting it up to bring in your RV but using the same services later on with a home. Just plan it out accordingly. Get a good site evaluation from a trusted contractor knowledgeable about the local conditions. You’ll find most to be helpful and accommodating.


                • #9
                  Much of what is being discussed here "SHOULD" be done before closing the transaction. Typically included as "Closure contingent on" as verbiage in the earnest money agreement.
                  "Life Is Either a Daring Adventure or Nothing" - Helen Keller


                  • #10
                    OP: I was on Mat-Su site today. Their set backs are:
                    25' from Right of way.
                    10' from side & rear of lot.
                    75' from any water body.
                    100' for subsurface sewage disposal system from any water body.


                    • #11
                      Yes I think it would be wise to do the well and septic first because you only have a half an acre and you are going to be limited on where you can put the well and septic because of that. After you determine where your well is going, the next thing you want to do is to determine where your cabin site will be because you will want to run a copper water line from your pitless adapter on your well casing right up to the cabin site and be sure that when you bury the water line it is at least ten feet deep and I recommend covering your pitless adapter with blue board on top and bottom to try to prevent frost heaves from breaking the pitless adapter away from your well casing. After that just be sure to flag all the pipes coming out of the ground really good so that an excavator won't run them over and you are ready to start.


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