Almost as important as the question “Why am I building?” is the question “Where do I want to build?”. Most people actually consider this question first when starting a new building, but I feel it should be second, because the Why may eliminate many of the Where’s. There are many factors to contemplate when figuring out the “Where” in your new construction. If you’ve figured out the “Why’s”, you will know what questions to ask concerning the “Where”.
One of the first question in considering where to build is simple. City, suburb, rural, or wilderness. It’s simply a question of what you want out of your new construction. Do you want to live in a City environment close to all the amenities that a city offers? Do you want to live close to a city, but not actually within the city limits. Do you want to live within reasonable driving distance of a city, but prefer the more relaxed atmosphere of a rural environment. Or, are you looking to get away from civilization completely and get back to nature? Each has it’s advantages, and each has specific challenges to overcome.
If you’ve picked an urban or suburban location, before you purchase it, you need to do some investigative work. Go to your city planning board, and ask them if they will allow the construction. For someone building in the standard stick-frame style, this usually isn’t a problem. But if you’re building a dome, this can be a bit of a challenge. In most places, domes are rare or non-existent; and your planning board may be resistant to the concept. This can be overcome, but it takes time and effort.
Another thing you need to do is talk to your potential neighbors. While you don’t have to give them all the details, let them know that you are thinking about building a dome home in their neighborhood and ask them for comments. The reason I say this is that in some places, neighborhood associations have the right to deny certain types of construction if they consider it outside the norm of the area. And even if there isn’t a neighborhood association, you still want to get the feedback from potential neighbors. Why? Because the last thing you want in a new home is to be surrounded by neighbors who are upset at you for any reason, least of all building a structure that’s going to be there for a couple of centuries.
You also need to look at the normal considerations like utilities, emergency services, access, schools, and taxes. If you get these questions answered before you purchase, the actual building process will proceed much smoother. And as we all know, a smooth operation is a cost efficient one.
Now, if you’re building in a rural environment, you still need to consult the county planning board, but you’ll find that it’s much easier to get their approval. This is because your new construction isn’t going to stick out so much from the norm. In a rural environment, there is space between neighbors, sometimes a lot of space. Thus, you won’t be seeing other homes right next to your dome, creating a contrast. Plus, it’s easier to landscape the area to soften, or even hide the dome from casual observation.
Some of the things you need to consider when looking at rural property are again, things like your utilities, taxes, emergency services, access, schools, and taxes. But you also need to consider things like cellular coverage, are you going to be able to use you phones at your new home? Also consider how far your new construction site is going to be from existing electrical lines. Running power to the site can get expensive. Also look at your horizon, especially your southern horizon. If you’re going to use satellite TV or Internet, you need a clear southern exposure. Where are you going to get your water from? How deep of a well will you have to have drilled? What about sewage? Does the contour of the land lend itself to a proper septic field, or are you going to have your sewage pumped regularly?
All of the things that apply to the rural environment also apply to the wilderness environment as well. But, there are additional considerations to be considered. You need to investigate the local weather patterns. How much snow and/or rain is received annually? Will your access be blocked because the road is choked with snow, or simply too wet to drive upon? What are the fire conditions like on average? How many stream or river crossings will you have to build/maintain?
Look as well at the wilderness around you. Is it in an area that is popular with hikers, hunters, and/or campers? What animals are you going to have to contend with on a regular basis? Sure, it’s nice to look out your window and see deer and/or elk in your front yard. But what about animals like bear, cougar, coyote, wolf, bobcat or skunk? Not that your dome would be endangered by these animals, but what about pets and/or livestock. Did you take that into consideration?
The point of all this is to get you to start thinking before you plop down a bunch of money on a property. Carefully consider everything prior to signing anything. Check everything three, four, even five times before spending your money. Because there is nothing worse then buying and then finding there’s a problem that you can’t afford to deal with, or is impossible to deal with at all. It’s better to have it all covered, or at least planned for, before you buy.
The next post will deal with “What are your building”