So, now we’ve got our property, the title issues are resolved, everything is looking good, so now we’ve got to get started making the place functional.
There are several things that are high on the priority list so figuring out what to tackle first is going to be a challenge, especially considering the limited time I’ll have to work out there. It’s enough of a distance away from where we’re living now, that just going out for a weekend isn’t really worthwhile, we’d basically get there one evening, set up camp, have maybe a half a day to get some work done, then have to break down camp and head home to be ready for work on Monday.
Fortunately, I’m given plenty of vacation time from my employer and I’ve gotten quite a bit of time banked up so the plan is for once a month or so, take a couple of vacation days and go out there for a long weekend. As often as possible, I’ll coordinate it around holidays so we’ll have an extra day to add. That means we’ll be spending most of our holidays on the property working instead of relaxing with friends and family, but sacrifices must be made.
So the next step is figuring out priorities. There are lots of things that need to be done and there’s only one of me so I’ve got to get things prioritized correctly. I’d be happy to get some input on this from people who’ve “been there and done that”.
So, here are the priorities as I see them in broad strokes:
1. Electricity (need that for the well pump if nothing else)
2. Water (get the well running, get a pressure tank put in)
3. Security (get a fence put up along the road and gates across the access points)
4. Trash/junk/burned down house cleanup
After this is where it starts to get a bit hazy, but the above will keep us busy for a while.
We’ll still need to clear the land I plan on putting a garden/orchard in. I want to get the fruit trees (and asparagus patch…I love asparagus) planted as soon as practical because they’ll take three years to start bearing fruit. The earlier we get them in, the sooner they’ll be productive. Having a tractor would make clearing and preparing that land much easier, but I don’t want to buy a tractor until I’ve got a secure, weather protected place to keep it.
So, do I build a pole barn first, then buy a tractor, then start clearing the land for the fruit trees? Or should I try to get some land cleared for the fruit trees and get them in before worrying about the barn and tractor? Also, where’s the barn gonna go? I don’t want to build it, and then two or three years from now when it’s time to put up a house, decide it’s in the wrong place.
If anyone has any advice or alternative viewpoints for the above, I’m happy to hear them.
So, those are the broad strokes. Here’s what I plan to accomplish on my trip there next week:
High on the priority list is getting the well operational so we’ve got water and don’t have to haul it out there. We do have a small spring on the property that, with a filter system we could use for some things, but just being able to turn on a tap would be much better. That means getting the electricity turned on, so I think that should be my first priority and what I’m going to invest my upcoming trip on.
As I’ve mentioned before, there’s already a pole out there with a meter and an outlet. It’s connected from the road through two power poles, one of which has a transformer mounted on it. I don’t know if the transformer’s good or not, but I assume that’s the power company’s responsibility. It’s on my property, and I know of no easements so I could be wrong…but I’d think that would be on them if the transformer’s bad. It’s not like I can buy one at Lowes.
Also, I’m not sure what amperage of service was provided before and what the existing wiring can support now. Since I want to run the well off it, as well as power tools, lighting and some other things we’ll need to run, I think I need at least 100 amp service.
Also, with just an outlet, there’s no main breaker or breaker box for adding circuits. I think I need to add a breaker box with a main and the ability to add at least 6 more breakers. One two pole for the 220v well pump. One single to run to the pump house for a light and possibly heater strip to keep the pressure tank above freezing in the winter. One single for the shed…this one will be a shed light and an outlet to plug in a router for internet that we’ll eventually get hooked up. One for an outdoor outlet near wherever we decide to put the campsite and one spare (or maybe an additional outdoor outlet somewhere else).
I could get away with a box with only 4 spots if it can support tandem breakers, but I’d rather have too much capacity than not enough.
I was also thinking about getting a single box that has the meter housing and the breakers to simplify things. I don’t need a meter housing, but it’s not that much more expensive to get a combined unit than it is to just get the breaker panel.
So, my goals for the upcoming trip. Go to the power company, find out if they can tell me what amperage of service is out there now, start my contract with them and maybe set up an appointment to get someone out there to check the transformer and wiring to the meter. Also they sell the electrical permits so I’ll buy the permits I need there.
Oh, remember when I told you that the property used to be two parcels? They had different addresses. The meter is actually on the smaller parcel that had an address that no longer exists, so the existing service that the power company has in their records is for an address that’s no longer there. I hope that doesn’t cause too much trouble to straighten out, but I won’t know until I talk to them.
At any rate, then it will be time to get to work. Either add the breaker panel to the existing meter service, or replace the meter base completely with a combination unit…I’m leaning toward the latter. Possibly upgrade the wire between the service entrance and the meter if necessary for 100 amp service. Wire the shed up and get a light and a couple of outlets installed. Run wire to the well pump (this will be an event, it’s probably about 60 feet from the pump house to the power pole and I’ll have to dig a trench for the cable(s). I could rent a trencher, but the closest equipment rental place I could find is about 45 minutes away so I’d end up paying for an hour and a half of rental just in travel time. Not sure it’s worth it. I can dig a 60 foot trench by hand, it will just take time.
Anyway, I’ll also need to decide where our “established” camp site’s going to be an run a wire to that, sink a post and put an outlet there. Once all that’s done, I can try to set up an inspection. I doubt I’ll be able to get it done that week, especially so close to Christmas, so I’ll likely have to schedule that for the next trip in a month or so, but I at least hope to have it all ready to be inspected so I can get that handled next time and hopefully get the power turned on.
I’ll take pictures as I can and update with progress after the trip.
Any thoughts, especially for things I may not be considering but should be, are welcome.