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Posted by Michael in Garden Grove, CA on 11/3/2008

This is the first of what I intend to be many posts of our project. We are still about three years from actually breaking ground, but I want to document the process from start to finish.

We have just returned home (So. Cal.) from Alma, Ks. We are purchasing a 30-acre parcel 8 miles outside of Alma, on which we plan to build a home. Alma is a small town (pop.757+/-) in the Flint Hills of eastern Kansas. Our son and his wife (Ken and Cathy) moved to Alma about three years ago, and we subsequently fell in love with the area. Ken and Cathy purchased a beautiful home on 50 acres and have agreed to sell my wife Mary and me our 30.

On this trip we had the land surveyed in order to establish the new lot lines, and file the required documentation with the recorder's office. While there I made inquiries with the zoning/building departments concerning permitting, inspection scheduling, etc.

What a shock. It seems that, in their jurisdiction, the only requirement is a $300 maximum building permit, and an inspection of the building's waste system. No electrical inspection, no plumbing inspection, no plan submittal, etc. I was informed that as far as they are concerned those things are between you and your builder. This is going to result in quite a bit of savings over what I had budgeted for those items.

I also established both savings and checking accounts. While at the bank I spoke with the V.P. of our branch concerning our plans; they seem quite amenable to owner-building and we talked briefly of the bank's requirements. They too seemed to be quite flexible concerning the whole process and merely require the usual inspections prior to making draws to ensure that the work has been performed. Their O-B construction loans are structured for 9 months to allow for weather delays and so forth. I explained to her that my purpose in opening these accounts was to separate these funds for accounting and also to establish my credentials locally. She seemed to be pleased and somewhat impressed by this.

My next visit was to the rural water district to learn what their process is. They require a study by their engineer to determine if the usage will over burden their system (e.g. agricultural uses or livestock, etc.) The district does not preclude these uses. It only wishes to ensure they have the capacity for your intended usage. This study costs $65 and then it is submitted to a board for approval. Upon approval, the fee is $3,000. You then have to purchase a meter and have it installed along with the rest of your water service. The contractor is responsible for the installation for a period of one year, at which time the district takes responsibility for the meter. They have a roster of local contractors that are approved to do these installations and you are free to get bids from them.

We return in April and plan to establish the exact placement of the house and possibly fence the south side (back) of the property. I am also going to talk with an excavator who happens to live a short way down the road concerning the driveway, site clearing, and expansion of our pond. The dam is broken on the pond now and I would like to move it another 200 ft. or so to substantially increase its size, if it is not too expensive...

Well, I am going to close for now. I am enclosing some photos of the views from our tentative building site.

Until later,




View from front facing road (north)
View from rear (south)
The pond (west)
Neighbors' farm. Extreme zoom. (northeast)

Posted by Rachal in Janesville, CA on 7/9/2009

Rachal's Forum Posts: 79
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The way you talk about the building department and the banks makes me want to move to Kansas!!

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