How to buy an 'Off the Grid' home in Marin County or Sonoma County (Unpublished)Posted by Annalise Demuth on (Unpublished)
Do you have a fantasy of moving to the country? Where there is no one around you for miles and miles? You can sing James Brown as loud as you like? Or maybe it's babbling brooks, sky high mountains or salty fresh ocean breezes you have a hankering for? Well, it can be done, and you don't need to move to the middle of no where to find your 'country escape'. There are a number of places in Sonoma County -like Sebastopol, Occidental or Guerneville that are far enough away from SF that can provide you the sanctuary you seek.
Moving 'off the grid' has it's challenges though. Very quickly you realize that turning on the water faucet, using the remote to turn on your fireplace and flushing the toilet are more than an automatic thought or action. Move off the grid and these amenities will become a daily part of your life, without taking them for granted.
Thus, if you're considering a second home or country property here's what you really need to be clear about; a water source, a gas source, and a sewage system. Another way to put it is most country properties come with a septic system (sewage), a well (water), and a propane tank (gas).
Ok, let's start with a septic system. What the heck is that? A septic system is the mechanism that manages the waste water from your home. Most homes are just hooked up to a sewer lateral which hooks up to the city managed sewer systems. But if there's no city sewer system then you need a septic system. In a short sentence a septic system is a series of holding tanks that filter the sewage away from the waste water. The waste water then drains in a field downhill from the house. The waste is held in a tank that gets emptied every couple of years. Here's the kicker, the soils' ability to filter the water down to the underground water table will determine how many gallons of water you can use a day and the capacity of your septic system.
Now let's move on to the water. If there is no public water source then you'll have to dig a well and test the water source from the well. It's common for 'off the grid' water to have bacteria and 'icky' particles such that you'll need a fairly robust filtering system. Most systems filter for iron, but sometimes there is arsenic and e coli in the underground water tables. Also, the well has to be robust enough to support the daily usage of water for a home - roughly around 4 to 5 gallons a minute. These systems are complicated and intricate. Frankly, after helping some clients go through this process of buying an off this grid property, I'm very thankful for public utilities.
Let's talk about cooking, or lighting a fire. If there is no public gas source then you'll need to find some other kind of gas that burns clean enough to cook with and heat your home with. Propane is the most popular, however it is expensive. Most country properties have some kind of tank that holds gas. You'll need to have it inspected to make sure there are no leaks. If you're not fond of gas then the other alternative is to live off the sun, and solar power your house.
Lastly, and importantly... all of these systems require annual or bi-annual upkeep and maintenance.
If you're interested in buying a home off the grid, give me a call and I'll help you buy your sanctuary.
Annalise Demuth 510-847-1248
1 Response to "How to buy an 'Off the Grid' home in Marin County or Sonoma County"
Leave a Comment
You cannot comment on an unpublished blog entry.