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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,
New to the forum. Is it possible to live completely off the grid and build in NE PA without building codes? Does anyone know about this.
 

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Why would you want to do this? When you build, you always have to think about selling. Never say you'd never sell. One never knows what the future will bring. And if you do put it on the market in the future, it'll sell for less and take longer than a similar home that's built to code.

BTW: Welcome to the forum.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Why would you want to do this? When you build, you always have to think about selling. Never say you'd never sell. One never knows what the future will bring. And if you do put it on the market in the future, it'll sell for less and take longer than a similar home that's built to code.

BTW: Welcome to the forum.
I'll build to code for my family but I cannot afford to pay for permits or want to be forced to hire someone else to do all the costs that ties into the codes, trying to be debt free and a home owner/builder.
 

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Why would you want to do this? When you build, you always have to think about selling. Never say you'd never sell. One never knows what the future will bring. And if you do put it on the market in the future, it'll sell for less and take longer than a similar home that's built to code.

BTW: Welcome to the forum.
I thought so too, but when we sold our place last summer we had no problems. It sold in two weeks. But..that was in Idaho. Where people dream of being. It comes with the territory in places like that and Alaska.
im not saying PA is a bad place either. I’m a Pennsylvanian by birth.

if I were buying a place in a location with no building codes. I would have a very through inspection. And use a structural engineer too.
 

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Do you have experience building houses? Hubs and I built our house in GA but he was in construction, knew what he was doing. The only permit we needed was a building permit and it was peanuts. Afterwards there was an electrical inspection that passed with flying colors.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Do you have experience building houses? Hubs and I built our house in GA but he was in construction, knew what he was doing. The only permit we needed was a building permit and it was peanuts. Afterwards there was an electrical inspection that passed with flying colors.
Yes. If thats all I can probably afford it, but would like to know fer sure before buying land and finding $50k attached to various permits.
 

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Then you're probably going to have to contact or research on the net the different areas you would like to call home. Most have that information on websites.

I can say with certainty, if the area is heavily populated then there are probably more than just building permits required.
 

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I built the house we are living in now.

I bought the land and got a $50 permit.
I hired an electrician to install a power pole, meter, main breaker panel.
I hired a well driller to drill our well.
I hired a site-work contractor who put in a driveway and he opened the trenches for the foundation.
I hired a foundation contractor who built the foundation.

The rest was done by myself. I put up the walls, roof, floor, insulation, windows, wiring, plumbing.

My permit came with a 'certificate of completion and self-inspection', that I was to sign and send to the state.

After living in our home for twelve years, we decided that we wanted to get a mortgage on it. We were able to get home insurance and a mortgage.
 

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I built the house we are living in now.

I bought the land and got a $50 permit.
I hired an electrician to install a power pole, meter, main breaker panel.
I hired a well driller to drill our well.
I hired a site-work contractor who put in a driveway and he opened the trenches for the foundation.
I hired a foundation contractor who built the foundation.

The rest was done by myself. I put up the walls, roof, floor, insulation, windows, wiring, plumbing.

My permit came with a 'certificate of completion and self-inspection', that I was to sign and send to the state.

After living in our home for twelve years, we decided that we wanted to get a mortgage on it. We were able to get home insurance and a mortgage.
I hired an electrician to install a power pole, meter, main breaker panel. The power company put our temp power in for no cost. (but you reminded we had to buy a transformer)

I hired a well driller to drill our well. Same

I hired a site-work contractor who put in a driveway and he opened the trenches for the foundation. Since our land had not been logged we traded site work for harvestable trees. It was thinned, not clear cut. Had enough leftover from the sale of the trees for a septic system.

I hired a foundation contractor who built the foundation. Same. We helped.
 

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We did everything ourselves but drill the well.
Septic, roads, solar power system, etc.

Later on we hired someone to build a garage/shop and a guest cabin. But the initial buildings (cabin, two horse barns, machine sheds, loafing shed, various storage buildings) were done by us and our own hands.
We only had a site location permit.
ETA: and a septic permit
 

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keep it simple and honest
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I think that most places go by the national BOCA code and a permit is needed so that inspections can be done to verify the code has been met. Also, there are PA laws regarding septic systems if you don't build where there is town sewage.
Although I don't like excessive laws, I think most of the building codes are concerned with safety factors. My county has a COG (council of government) where several municipalities combine to meet the building/sewage rules, and hire a sewage enforcement officer and a codes enforcement officer.
But Pennsylvania varies from highly populated cities (specifically Philadelphia and Pittsburgh), to many suburban and rural areas, so it is hard to say what/where rules may be different.
You need to check each town/borough/county/city where you are considering buying land to do your off grid home. It will be a long and frustrating journey, but if you want it, you will persevere and get all your ducks in line so that you don't get a surprise while on your journey.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I think that most places go by the national BOCA code and a permit is needed so that inspections can be done to verify the code has been met. Also, there are PA laws regarding septic systems if you don't build where there is town sewage.
Although I don't like excessive laws, I think most of the building codes are concerned with safety factors. My county has a COG (council of government) where several municipalities combine to meet the building/sewage rules, and hire a sewage enforcement officer and a codes enforcement officer.
But Pennsylvania varies from highly populated cities (specifically Philadelphia and Pittsburgh), to many suburban and rural areas, so it is hard to say what/where rules may be different.
You need to check each town/borough/county/city where you are considering buying land to do your off grid home. It will be a long and frustrating journey, but if you want it, you will persevere and get all your ducks in line so that you don't get a surprise while on your journey.
It's what I'm trying to do. It's supprisingly difficult to find resource information, you'd think someone made one already to make it easier for people, or the poor, to find and build their own debt free home. Maybe I'll do it once I go through the process.
 

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keep it simple and honest
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You might write to each county...I think there are 67...and, of course, if you deal with a real estate person, ask a million questions and when something looks good, verify all the information with the local government entities...and also, of course, don't buy without seeing the land and the neighborhood. The sales pitch may not be fully/partially accurate.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
You might write to each county...I think there are 67...and, of course, if you deal with a real estate person, ask a million questions and when something looks good, verify all the information with the local government entities...and also, of course, don't buy without seeing the land and the neighborhood. The sales pitch may not be fully/partially accurate.
I am doing that now. I am also hoping that someone here on this forum already done it.
 

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I built a place in rural southern, Illinois. No building permits were required, no septic system permit or inspections were required. Nothing, just build.
 
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