How do I check for property utilities? How to check vacant land for power and water?
I’m going to show you how you can find out if the vacant land you’re evaluating has any existing utilities in place – for free! You can do this search online, or with a couple of phone calls. It only takes a few minutes and is one of the most important things you need to check when going through your land-buying checklist.
I’m going to share with you the fifth video in our Due Diligence series, and answer the fifth question that you should ask when buying land: How do I check for utilities?
If you have any questions on the content in this post, leave a comment below and I will reply with your answer.
How to Check Land for Utilities?
I am going to continue with the same example property, the one we looked up in the first four videos and articles of this series.
If you missed them, the first video goes over how to find the property owner, the second video goes over how to check for back taxes and tax liens owed on the property, the third video shows how to check the zoning of a property, and the fourth video will teach you how to find access and coordinates of your property.
If you want to check those out make sure you see our YouTube playlist for the Due Diligence video series.
Utilities are not very common with rural vacant land, especially with larger plots that are more out in the middle of nowhere.
If you’re looking at a more residential lot where you would build a house, closer to a city or town, you have a much greater chance of already having utilities in place.
Either way, it’s good to check the existing utility situation so you know what you’re getting into. Especially if you really want to have utilities at your property, you need to know if there are not any there right now because it can be extremely expensive to have utilities brought in. It might make you change your mind about a property.
So our example property, is a lot in Costilla County Colorado, with the parcel number of 70273760.
Where to Find Property Utility Information?
You need to figure out what type of road access there is as well as what the boundaries of your potential property are. And you can do this with the County’s GIS maps.
If the county has this resource online, it’s normally free. If they don’t have this resource, you could call into the County’s Assessor office and they might help you get the coordinates for the boundaries of the property by searching for a previously recorded survey.
You will need 2 things to find out the coordinate and access information for a property.
- You need to know the county that the land is in, so in our case, that is Costilla County.
- You will need the parcel number.
If you found a piece of property you’re thinking about buying on any of the Land sites, Craigslist, even Facebook Marketplace, you can get the parcel number right from the listing or just ask the seller and they will be able to provide you with that info.
Note: If the seller does not have the parcel number or cannot get it for you – that is a big red flag. It increases the likelihood of that seller being a scam or not having the rights to actually sell you that property.
How to Check Property for Power?
I have up in Google Maps a corner coordinate of our example property, which we found together in article 4 of this series.
Zooming out on the map, we see that it’s southeast of Fort Garland and the intersection of Highways 160 and a County Road 159.
The property is off of Ice House Rd which looks like a more popular road with some houses and other roads coming off it. I would make note of all this before calling the utility companies.
Let’s head over to Google, and search for the county’s gis maps. I’m going to type in ‘Costilla County power’. I’m thinking that, if anything, there might be power lines near or at the property, but I really doubt there’s any type of water source.
Ok here we go – San Luis Valley REC, and it says they service Costilla County.
I would definitely call them first, you might have to leave a voicemail. The utility companies I’ve dealt with don’t always get back to you right away, so leave a voicemail they will call you as soon as they can.
If they say for some reason that they don’t provide services to the area of your property, just ask them which company you need to contact.
How Do I Check if My Property has Water and Sewer?
For water and sewer, I would actually call the County’s Planning and Zoning department, or Building and Developments Department.
It doesn’t matter which of these you call because they will direct you to the correct internal source or County engineer, anyway.
While you’ve got the engineer on the phone ask them about septic systems and wells, what the minimum requirements are and how to get a permit for one.
Find Out Property Utilities for FREE
And that’s it! I’m sorry it’s not as clear cut, and it’s not something that we can do completely together in a ten-minute video, because you would have to work the phones a bit and wait for some folks to get back to you.
But you now know the process of what to do, who to call, and how to figure out if your vacant property has utilities. And with that, we have answered the fifth question you need to ask when buying land.
The next Due Diligence item on your checklist should be: How to check property slope and elevation?
I’m going to go over how to check that in the final article and video, part 6 of this series.
If you enjoyed this post make sure you like it, share it, tell your friends about it, and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you’re the first to know when the next video in this Due Diligence series is published. By the end of this series, you will have a comprehensive checklist of items you need to check before you buy any piece of land.
If you have any questions leave a comment below I’ll make sure I answer them and help you out. Thank you for reading!
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The information in this article should not be interpreted as legal advice. I’m not a lawyer, and if you’re considering buying land I recommend getting help from a paralegal or lawyer to find out what your options are. It can be difficult and overwhelming to do a proper Title Search, especially to someone without experience. To be certain of what rights are included with your property, a local title agency or paralegal can help you. Leasing rights and determining access can sometimes escalate into a very difficult and troubling situation, so it’s best to get professional advice.