Bringing Utilities to Vacant Land: What to Know

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Marleny Hucks
Marlene (or Marleny as she is known in Spanish) is a mentor, teacher, cross-cultural trainer, storyteller, writer, and for those who have been under her leadership or simply sat across the table from her, she is a mirror of destiny. Her love of word and image were formed early on by one of her heroes, Dr. Seuss. If you asked those who know her well, they would describe her a compassionate, funny, wise, curious, honest, real, strong, sensitive and totally human which comes out as she teaches and writes. She sees all of life, even the most mundane, through faith and believes that who we become as we live this side of the veil is what matters not the journey itself or our circumstances. Marleny Hucks has spent her life crossing bridges. She comes from a diverse background of ministry roles and contexts as well as has transitioned in and out of the business world. Having lived outside the country as well as traveled extensively she has a fascination with culture causes her to live her life within a global mosaic no matter where her feet are planted. Marlene currently lives in South Carolina with her husband David, who owns a news company but who she says is a “crime fighter”, bringing light into darkness in their systems of their city. Marleny currently works as a content management specialist covering Myrtle Beach News for MyrtleBeachSC News.

There are a lot of benefits to appreciate with buying vacant land that you plan to build on. One of the big ones is that you can get a lot of space, and you can ultimately build your home however you want. 

At the same time, vacant land comes with pitfalls too. For example, you have to be careful to find out about any potential restrictions for the use of the land. 

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You might also need to bring utilities to the land.  If you plan to build a home after you purchase a piece of property, you have to think about the added time and cost of bringing utilities if needed. 

The following are things to know. 


If you’re buying a rural property, municipal water may not be available. If municipal water is available, a sewer line is as well. If you use public water, you’ll use the municipal sewer. If you need to put in a private septic system, you have to make sure the lines will be in a spot that’s clear from being driven on or built on. 

Your septic system also needs a buffer area from your well and water lines. 

If municipal water isn’t available, you’ll need a well. Drilling a well can be expensive, and you have to install the holding tank and equipment. You’ll need to try and find out how deep recently drilled wells near your land have gone because this will give you an idea of how deep the groundwater table is. 

When you have a private well, you have to realize that droughts can be problematic, and you may need your well to be deeper than what’s typical in the area. Otherwise, you could have to move your well. 

If you have groundwater that’s very deep or shallow, it’s going to mean you pay more because it makes it harder to install septic systems. 


The exact process you’ll go through to install power will depend on your location, but you should plan on spending at least $10,000. Your local utility company should give you information about where the nearest power lines to your property are located. 

Many utility companies will charge for each foot needed to extend a line to your property and also on your property. They should be able to provide a cost estimate, and you should try to get this before you actually buy land. 

If the lines are going to be accessed from private property, you need the property owner’s permission for that. 

Even if you’re going to use solar power, you’ll still need to have access to the local power grid.

If you’re still at a point where you’re looking for land, or you haven’t yet committed, you should be able to make a few phone calls and learn a lot about what access to utilities vacant land has

If you can find the power company servicing the area where the land is located, you can call them and ask if they have power lines at the road that would be to the front of your lot. If not, maybe another company will serve the area. 

Don’t Rely on the Property Seller or Agent

Some land buyers think they can depend on the information they’re getting from the person selling the property or an agent they’re working with. The problem here is they might not know, or they might use a general, relative term. For example, they could tell you that the power lines are “nearby.” Nearby could end up being a lot farther than you realize, and that could cost you a lot more. 

It can end up being tens of thousands of dollars for every half-mile that a line has to be extended to your property. 

The term “nearby” won’t cut it in these situations. 

Other Utilities

You should be able to obtain access to things like the internet and satellite TV relatively easily, even in a pretty remote area. You might find companies that will roll several of these types of utilities into one. 

The biggest issues are going to be power and water, and when you’re thinking about buying rural land, you can’t just look at the price of the property itself. You have to look at how all of the expenses are going to add up, including accessing utilities that you’ll need. 

Anticipate that you’re going to be investing potentially another $30,000 to get utilities for your land, and figure out if that’s realistically in your budget.

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