I posed the following questions to Darlene Yarbrough, a real estate agent in Crestone, Colorado to get her response: Our readers are interested in low cost land with minimal code restrictions for building earthbag houses. Could you point to areas near Crestone where this is feasible, and the approximate cost per acre. And could you briefly discuss the option of buying land with an existing trailer house and septic, and then possibly building outbuildings later. I’d like to show the benefits of working with a realtor/real estate agent who knows the area.
“Our land is primarily in a development called The Baca Grande. Off-grid lots run from $5,000 – $15,000. Well and septic are needed. Half of the development has lots in a water district and must hook up. I don’t really have low cost land without covenants. However, there is no engineering approval required in the Baca to build an earthbag dwelling. The only inspections are the plumbing, electrical and then the Property Owner’s association wants to see that it gets completed within 18 months and they will extend. The off-grid land is inexpensive in my viewpoint as you can 1.5-3 acres for $5,000-9,000. There is no building code.
We don’t have trailers with septics here much. I do know of manufactured homes existing with septics. We are under Covenants and Restrictions of a HOA. Only building inspections are electrical and plumbing and the architectural and environmental committee of the HOA. So, it is more liberal, but there some rules.
I don’t have land outside of this development available to discuss except sometimes for larger tracts which run $100,000 and up. There’s also a mobile home park on the water district system (no septics).”
For more information: Darlene Yarbrough, Darlene Yarbrough Real Estate
8 thoughts on “Low Cost Land with Few Codes”
Owen, it would be nice to find a land with existing trailer house and septic. But what if just a land without any house on it. Do you think it would be possible to build a temporary shelter in areas near Crestone (to live there while you building your house) without running into problems with Property Owner’s association?
It depends where you live. There are places outside the city with very few rules. This has a downside though. There are people living like hobos in old trailers and shacks. You may not want to live near people like that. There’s definitely a risk involved. Also, some of the cheapest land is out on the wind swept prairie. It gets super cold out there. And windy. The Great Sand Dunes park is just down the road. The same strong winds that created the dunes will also be blowing against your house. A superinsulated roundhouse makes the most sense to me in this region.
Owen, how is the soil near Crestone? (for the purpose to have a small garden to grow some food and maybe have a goat). I am looking at the air pictures on Google map. Near the bottom of the mountains there is some trees and greens, but the soil seems just sand and clay.
It’s mostly sand. The giant Great Sand Dunes are just down the road. Kelly’s house is actually built on a sand dune. That’s not good for gardening, obviously, but the sand makes a well drained base for houses. Locals like small greenhouses like these because the growing season is so short (it can snow most any time): http://tripwow.tripadvisor.com/slideshow-photo/inside-greenhouse-dome-by-travelpod-member-lili-villa-grove-united-states.html?sid=10281532&fid=tp-2
I heard exactly that from about a dozen of the real estate agents I contacted. The other hundred or so didn’t even reply with anything but spam for 100k homes.
They don’t have any interest in selling you a $5k lot, they want to get you to sign for $200k and up.
Crestone in particular has road signs on the way to Alamosa that say “WE HAVE BUILDING CODES – NO BUILDING WITHOUT COUNTY PERMIT” as you drive. Big, metal signs. WTF?
I would recommend land west of Wiliams, Arizona. That is where I am staking my claim to build. I got my 2.2 acres for a little over $1600, in the middle of no and where. 5000 feet elevation, temperate climate. Same building codes as Crestone, no effete signs.
When they say Crestone has a building code, it means there’s septic and electrical inspections. That’s about as easy as you’ll find anywhere in the US.
You know it cracks me up about those signs. I noticed a bunch of literature at the building depts in both Navajo and Apache counties warning about building without a permit. Yet when I was out looking at property, there were shacks, falling apart trailers, buses and assorted other structures and vehicles people were living in. There were even tents. I am guessing so long as someone doesn’t make a complaint, they pretty much ignore you. Some of those more rural counties are pressed for funding. They just don’t have the resources to drive around and check to see if someone is building without a permit.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they target only those who they think can pay fines. Sounds terrible, but that’s how money hungry bureaucracies work.