Cheap private lot, the catch, bed rock is on the surface!

5 Replies

Hello I found a great lot for a great price within 15 mins of Knoxville. This is a hot area. I hope to buy and build a couple houses.

The lot has two buildable locations, lot is 10 acres total, private, good area, etc... the catch is that limestone bed rock is at or near the surface about everywhere.

What should I be aware of and consider prior to my purchase regarding the bed rock. Things like septic (required), waterlines, and a well (required) are suddenly more difficult below the 1 inch deep soil is soild rock?

This is in the Knoxville area of Tennessee

Tips, advice, stories, or experience with sites with bed rock close to the surface welcome. Thanks!

See if you been get an estimate for the septic before purchasing. to be sure. You can use use an escape clause if you haven't submitted your offer yet. 

It would depend on how far committed you are to the property so far.

I would talk with the sellers to find out to what extent they would be willing to let you have the lot tested prior to purchase.

I’m currently in a similar situation in west Knoxville. I’m purchasing a lot in the Deane Hill neighborhood and discussed with the sellers that I was willing to 50/50 for a land survey and soil survey. Knowing the area, the demand in the area, and the neighborhood comps I know that any thing short of a potential sink hole issue, and the lot was a no brainer. All of these terms were contingent on my 50/50 portion being converted to earnest money in the event that they were to accept an offer from me.

I would recommend that you push for the appropriate soil surveys (also land survey) to make sure that the rock you’re dealing with would me minimal in the desired build locations.

Otherwise I would be extremely careful when dealing with rock. The septic systems are fairly straight forward and can range between 4500-6000 dollars per unit supplied and installed. The well system is another matter entirely. I’ve estimated them before where they can exceed $10,000. It all depends on depth, undulation, and footage to run said water.

If they agree to the surveying and testing it would be worth the 400-500 dollars to find out if you are about to lose your butt, or if it’s a good deal.

Just as a point of reference to my experience. I’m part owner in a residential construction company that has been active for 10+ years, and I’m also an estimator for a national log home building company located out of East TN/Knox, so I’m fairly experienced in the cost of build area. I’m also a soft wood lumber salesman for the east TN region supplying 2 x materials and other boards from the southeast.

Thats what they make dynamite for .  

The hardest thing is a septic system in rock . You have to perk , rock doesnt perk well . 

I just had a well drilled 450 ft . It was in sand and clay .I had a hard time finding a driller that drills in sandy soils , most were rocky ares well drillers .  Believe it or not all the drillers told me its easier to drill in rock .

Thanks all will consider all this when submitting my offer tomorrow.

Deane Hill is a great area, I like your survey idea. I'm thinking some sort of geologist might be good to have take a look as well.

@Matthew Paul- One side of the property drops off to a potential septic field with less rock luckily

If you don't mind sharing, what does a 450ft deep well roughly cost? I'm just curious.

@ted faust  Call local well drillers and get a ballpark figure.  As for the septic, blasting can add several thousand to the costs of the septic.  I would have a builder look at the lot to get their thoughts.  Once I found a trust worthy builder to not undercut me it made it nice because I have him look to give me an estimate for foundation costs and to warn me of other pitfalls.  He knows he will be building on it within a year so he wants an easier project.  He also knows the less money I have tied up in a build the more builds I can do.  Also go to the courthouse and talk to the health department to see what others in the area perc for.  In this instance I would put a contingency in the contract for a perc test.  In the end it doesn't matter if a septic system can go in, what matters is what (# bedrooms) the health dept approves the septic for.  In addition to the costs of well and septic, your foundation costs might go up.  Again having a good builder look at it could help you put together costs in the matter of an hour.  I was at a construction site east of knoxville a couple weeks ago and the owner had to pay an extra $15K to break rock to run the line from the well to the house and to run the underground electric.  Since I am flexible in my strategy the lot dictates the build to save costs.  I might go with a smaller footprint and go up in height.  I hope this helps.

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