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Old 03-21-2017, 07:02 PM
JWK JWK started this thread
 
53 posts, read 26,839 times
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Hey All, Long time member here, but I mostly just read and I had to change my user name in 2012 when I changed servers and forgot my password (I'll never use auto login again). No email for the forum to send me info and no password, so new registration.

Anyway, I used to live in central NY and finally made the move to Maine in the summer of 2015. We are very serious about a piece of property in the township of Dover-Foxcroft. It is raw land with power on the road. As most of you know, rentals are not plentiful in Maine, especially in Dover-Foxcroft (we need a house and really don't want to rent, anyway).

So before I go down to the municipal building and start asking questions (never a good thing to do with government bureaucrats IMO), I was wondering if anyone knew the rules about living on your own property without the standard "home building". In NY, you really weren't allowed to do ANYTHING. You could only live in a code approved built house, and you could not move in until it was finished. I mean, completely finished.

Now we don't want to do anything extreme, like live in a yurt for a winter. I'm retired and my wife is well into her 50s. We could certainly rough it for the summer in a camp scenario with tents and all, but come September/October we're going to need a bit more. Now who knows - we could get really lucky, get a contractor and be in a livable dwelling by Fall, but I can't count on that.

So I'm looking for info and suggestions. How to live in some kind of temporary scenario for a complete year while you plan, design, and have your home built. And I would prefer to do it legally. I'm getting too old to be dodging nosy neighbors and officials. And yes, I'm being a bit cautious since this is the county seat. There's bound to be more red tape and regulations compared to surrounding towns. Or maybe not?

Anyone know how it's done in Dover-Foxcroft?
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Old 03-21-2017, 08:35 PM
 
Location: Northern Maine
10,188 posts, read 15,912,792 times
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You can camp on your property in a tent, camper or even a bus. There is no such thing as an "occupancy permit". Nobody is going to tell you that you have to sleep out on the lawn in a tent on a rainy night because you do not have an occupancy permit for your nice warm home.

That said, if you own a lot in a residential neighborhood, such accommodations will attract attention. You sound like you value your privacy so you might want to buy a relatively secluded lot. The lowest cost building for "wintering over" is probably one of those Amish built buildings that are delivered to your lot. Call it a shed. It is portable. You can move it to other properties on a seasonal basis if you want to.

You may want to get a soil test and a septic design for an outhouse depending on where you are located. Long term, it's the sanitary thing to do. Short term, you just do what you would do on a long hike. Moderator cut: Inappropriate language for City-Data

Last edited by mensaguy; 03-22-2017 at 07:02 AM.. Reason: language
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Old 03-21-2017, 09:07 PM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
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I stayed on my land in an RV for the first 8 months, while constructing our house.
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Old 03-21-2017, 09:25 PM
 
Location: Northern Maine
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My neighbor lived in his cellar for three years before building his two story house above it. In our town a lady built a straw bale house. This is Maine. Down in lower Maine there could be a code enforcement official that would go completely nuts over such a thing.
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Old 03-22-2017, 05:47 AM
 
Location: North of Boston
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This is probably a pretty common occurrence.

You'll want a well and a septic system for the completed house so I would put those in first. You could then buy or rent a trailer or camper - as big or as small as you want - connect that to the utilities at the site and then live in that while building the permanent structure.

It is worth noting that Dover-Foxcroft, because it has a population greater than 4000, is required to enforce the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code (MUBEC). Due to that requirement, prior to issuance of most land use permits, the land use application must be accompanied by a letter of authorization to proceed by a state licensed third party inspector.
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Old 03-22-2017, 07:14 AM
 
Location: WV and Eastport, ME
12,779 posts, read 11,982,658 times
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I don't think you're going to find rules like you knew in NY. You can probably live in an RV on your land while you build a house. You'll need electricity any, so you can get that brought onto the property, and you need water & sewer. Is there a municipal water & sewer system, or will you need a well & septic? Find out & get that done. You can use it with the RV while you build.

In the Maine towns I've known about, the building rules are not anything that go beyond common sense. Ask the code officer. If your land is in a subdivision covered by a Home Owners Association, all bets are off. The rules could be anything under the sun.
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Old 03-22-2017, 07:24 AM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
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If land has access to power lines, it is very common in my township to see a power pole/meter/panel so an RV or trailer can plug-in. Then you can get a permit for an outhouse. Sand-point wells are easy to install.

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Old 03-22-2017, 11:37 AM
JWK JWK started this thread
 
53 posts, read 26,839 times
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OK, thanks everyone. It sounds like it won't be nearly as hard as NY to be more free to make innovative or unconventional choices. Good to hear. When the snow clears enough, I'll take a better look to see if it's got the right stuff or not. If it's a go, it looks like getting that well and septic in is the thing to do. I've been scouting around and it seems used trailers and RVs could be cost effective for temporary living until the house gets built.
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Old 03-26-2017, 09:47 AM
 
Location: Backwoods of Maine
7,295 posts, read 8,847,538 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JWK View Post
So before I go down to the municipal building and start asking questions (never a good thing to do with government bureaucrats IMO),
This is precisely what you need to do, first. The second thing, is to have a soil test done, before you close.

Once you purchase the land, it will be too late to get out of the deal. You need to know for certain, that you will be able to do what you wish to do on that land. Only the town officials will know for sure. They are the only ones who can tell you if there IS any "legal" way to live on that land before the house is built. You cannot hide from those folks anyway, so why not talk with them, right up front?

One Mr Gilbert is the code enforcement officer for that town. You should speak to him. They can give you his number at town hall. He can recommend a soil scientist to do the test. Under no circumstances should you buy that property before having a soil test done. If it doesn't pass, you are SOL.

There are folks here who live way out in the boonies, who live in Unincorporated townships, or in so-called 'pockets of freedom'. They bought many, many years ago. Times have changed. This isn't NY, but what some people used to do years ago, is no longer allowed. Be sure before you're sorry.
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Old 03-26-2017, 07:17 PM
 
Location: Northern Maine
10,188 posts, read 15,912,792 times
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I visited a beautiful log home atop bare ledge in Gouldsboro. I was their guest when we had a sled dog race on a lake in Gouldsboro around 1985. They have a full septic with no pipes visible. They sawed slots in the ledge, set pipes under the slots and carefully placed the rock back in place. You cannot see where they did it. It was very expensive. It was very legal.

Tomorrow, on the snowy day, I will be out with a soils guy to verify that a client's site is viable for a conventional septic system. Over 100 feet away there is a spot where a well driller can park. It looks to be a busy spring for well drillers and septic system installers.

Good advice from Nor'Eastah. Look before you leap. There are still camps where the "septic tank" is an old washer or dryer buried in the ground because Momma wanted a flush. Most of those thin steel boxes rusted out decades ago. Some are still in use.
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