35 Questions to Ask Before Buying Vacant Land ?

Are you interested in buying your own piece of earth?  There’s nothing more fabulous than having a few acres of your own, and building your own place from the ground up.   But, buying land, especially in highly regulated areas like California, can be a lot more risky than buying a home.  These days of real estate disclosure for a home buyer have come a long way from the traditional law of “Caveat Emptor” (meaning buyer beware)!  Land, however, does not have the same rules.  I constantly hear stories like:

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“I thought we were buying 80 acres, it turned out we got 65!”

“We had no idea this area was in an ancient landslide.  Its almost impossible to build here.”

“We thought we got an amazing deal, $1m for 120 acres, but it turns out its going to cost another $1m to get to the pad before we can even think of starting the house.”

“We bought a small lot in town and it turns out we can’t get water service so we can’t build!”

Unfortunately there isn’t one place to get answers.  Many local departments are involved and sometimes have conflicting information.

Here are 35 questions you can ask
Or you can get professional help – call me 310 963 7900.

Planning and Zoning

  1. Is it a legal lot? If not, how do I make it legal?
  2. What is the zoning classification of this lot?
  3. Does the Zoning on the property permit my project?
  4. Does the County General Plan permit what I wish to do?
  5. Are any planning permits required prior to building on the lot?
  6. Are there any zoning violations on the lot?
  7. Are there any special building restrictions in this area?
  8. Are there any cultural heritage sites on the property?

Continue reading “35 Questions to Ask Before Buying Vacant Land ?”

Building a New House in Ojai and Ventura County

Building in the City of Ojai is a fairly straightforward process.  The town itself is quite small, only 4.4 miles, beyond those boundaries you are in the unincorporated area of  Ventura County – a bit more challenging building process.  Call us to help you navigate the building process.

Geography

Ojai is located at 34°26′57″N 119°14′48″W

The city is generally at 745 feet (227 m) above sea level.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.4 square miles (11 km2), of which only 0.35% is water, and the rest is land.

Ojai is situated in a small east-west valley, north of Ventura and east of Santa Barbara. It is approximately 15 miles (24 km) inland from the Pacific Ocean coast.

Since Ojai is lined up with an east-west mountain range, it is one of few towns in the world to have a “Pink Moment” occur as the sun is setting. The fading sunlight creates a brilliant shade of pink for several minutes on the Topatopa Bluffs, over 6,000 feet (1,800 m) above sea level at the east end of the Ojai Valley. Nordhoff Ridge, the western extension of the Topatopa Mountains, towers over the north side of the town and valley at more than 5,000 feet (1,500 m). Sulphur Mountain creates the southern ranges bounding the Ojai Valley, a little under 3,000 feet (910 m) in elevation. The Sulphur and Topatopa Mountains are part of the Transverse Ranges system.

The Ventura River flows through the Ventura River Valley, draining the mountains surrounding Ojai to the north and east and emptying into the Pacific Ocean at the city of Ventura. The Ventura River was once known for its steelhead fishing before Matilija Dam and Lake Casitas were constructed, eliminating habitat for this trout species.

The climate of Ojai is Mediterranean, characterized by hot, dry summers, sometimes exceeding 100 °F (38 °C), and mild winters, with lows at night sometimes below freezing. As is typical for much of coastal southern California, most precipitation falls in the form of rain between the months of October and April, with intervening dry summers.

Earthquakes in Southern California

Guest Post from:

PETER T. ERDELYI & ASSOCIATES, INC. • Architectural Engineering & Structural Design since 1974
1975 Sawtelle Blvd Ste 175 • Los Angeles, CA 90025  www.erdelyi.com

Peter Erdelyi

 

Hello There!

Here’s the next serving of our bite-sized engineering stories as they happened at Peter T. Erdelyi & Associates.


SHAKING ALL OVER

In light of the recent earthquakes I thought that sharing a few lesser known facts will help to understand what earthquakes are actually all about.

The earthquakes of California are caused by the movement of huge blocks, or plates, of the earth’s crust – the Pacific and North American plates. The Pacific plate is moving northwest, scraping horizontally past the North American plate at a rate of about 2 inches per year, which is about the rate your fingernails grow. (This maybe explains why my wife has to go to the manicurist so many times a year.:)) You can compare this movement to when you snap your fingers. Before the snap, you push your fingers together and sideways. Because you are pushing them together, friction keeps them from moving to the side. When you push sideways hard enough to overcome this friction, your fingers move suddenly, releasing energy in the form of sound waves that set the air vibrating and travel from your hand to your ear, and you hear the snap. The same process goes on in an earthquake. Slow movements in the earth’s outer layer push the sides of the faults together. The friction across the surface of the fault holds the rocks together so they do not slip immediately when pushed sideways. Eventually enough stress builds up and the rocks slip suddenly, releasing energy in waves that travel through the rock to cause the shaking that we feel during an earthquake. Continue reading “Earthquakes in Southern California”

Building in a challanging location – Ojai, CA

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Building a home in remote areas ups the ante for challenges and cost. This house located at 2700 feet above sea level on the south range of the mountains of the Ojai Valley has amazing views of the Topa Topa mountains to the North and the mighty Pacific on the South.

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Just getting people to the job is a challenge – Google, smart phones and even maps don’t accurately show the property.  With the 100’s of trade contractors, inspectors, delivery drivers, etc. getting people to the job is a chore itself.

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We had to install our own street sign – which was later mysteriously removed !

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Roadways, grading, drainage, utilities have to travel up a 1700 foot long driveway.  Rules and regulations also get more challenging from the building department, the fire department and all of the other agencies that get involved in the permitting.

 

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But you just can’t beat it!  Views of the Channel Islands of Santa Barbara.

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Bottom Line: Get er Done!

 

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Feel Free to copy, share, or re post this article. Kindly make sure to include this information: Written by Otis Bradley, a Custom Home Builder, in Southern California. Please see OtisBradley.com for more information on Custom Home Building!