By John Devlin
Location, Location, Location.
Are you wanting a rural retreat to relax and unwind? Or are you an adrenaline junkie looking for the perfect spot to participate in winter sports? Is the perfect fishing spot important to you? All these considerations are important before beginning your search for the ideal piece of land for your log cabin.
You may have a favorite vacation spot or want to return to the area where you grew up. Everyone is unique, and the perfect location is essentially down to individual preference. The more research you do, the better. Always visit the area before purchasing land to get a feel for the place.
Most log cabins offer splendid views whether situated in an elevated position on a mountain, surrounded by ancient trees in the middle of a forest, or on the shores of a lake. The vistas you will be able to enjoy are obviously an important consideration, but other practicalities need to be taken into account too.
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Many people want to experience the peace and tranquility of log cabin life, but being cut off from civilization can cause problems. Make sure you do your research and know what the area is like during all seasons. Does it have heavy snowfall during the winter or spring floods? Is there road access?
Regardless of how spectacular your surroundings, it will be hard to enjoy them if it takes hours to get there and you are cut off from practical amenities once you arrive. What about construction machinery – can an excavation truck gain access to the site? It may be easy to drive 10 miles to the local store during the summer months but what about in winter?
What type of Land?
Another important consideration is the land on which your log cabin will sit. The type of soil and structural stability, slopes and drainage are important factors in the land you choose. You may want to grow your own vegetables or have a landscaped garden. If so, the best bet is agricultural land.
The ideal spot on which to construct a cabin is a flat area with soil that has good drainage. If you are building the cabin yourself, it would be wise to choose land with a good supply of the right trees.
Once the area has been decided and you know you can legally construct your timber home, you will need to get in touch with your local real estate agent and/or lawyer. They will provide information about the legalities such as permits, development restrictions, regulations and other requirements before building commences.
You will need to ascertain the property’s boundaries as many countries have different planning laws on where you can build in relation to your boundary. It is essential to ensure all legal requirements are met so you don’t have to take the structure down once building starts.
Are you wanting to go off-grid and be self-sufficient? Or will you need to connect to local utilities? Obviously you will need a water supply. This can come from a mains supply or you may be fortunate enough to have a natural spring nearby. If so, you will need to ensure the water does not become contaminated and is safe to drink.
The EPA regulates public water systems in the US, but does not have the authority to regulate springs and private wells. However, some states have guidelines and rules which you need to know.
You will also need a sanitation system whether in the form of mains sewers or a private septic tank. The EPA SepticSmart Initiative provides resources for homeowners including how to keep the system properly maintained.
Installing utilities before construction starts will make the build easier, especially if you will be using power tools. If there are no power lines nearby, you may need to use your own generator to supply power.
While you may want to kick back and get away from it all, a telephone is handy for emergencies. Cable TV and internet may also be required if you are to live permanently in your log cabin. It is best to install the cables for these at the same time the trenches are dug for power and water.
Choosing a site for your log cabin is an exciting part of the process. Do you want to be surrounded by flower-filled meadows, close to ski slopes, or deep in the woods? While each of these may be the inspiration for building your dream retreat, they only form part of the process. Planning laws, soil analysis, utilities; there are hundreds of other small factors which need to be considered.
The most important thing you can do while searching for the perfect spot is research, check out regulations, and talk to a local planning organization or lawyer so you know exactly where you stand before the build begins. After all, a log cabin is meant to reduce stress not increase it.
Once you have done all the initial planning, made sure everything complies with local regulations, decided whether to connect to mains suppliers or live off-grid, then and only then is it time to hire an architect, order or chop the logs, and let the fun begin.