Build Your Own House

Ordering Utilities When Building a New Home

Summary: When building a new home order all your electric, gas, phone, and cable utilities as soon as you get your building permit.

In some rural areas utilities can be very costly, running into thousands of dollars. Check with your local utility companies in advance. Contact your gas, electric, and water departments for hookup procedures. Every locale has different procedures. You may also want to order a pre-wire from your phone, cable television, and broadband Internet company at this time, as these companies sometimes requires three to five weeks’ notice. Some don’t charge for this, some do. Ask first.

If water and sewer are provided, be sure you check out all costs to get the water and sewer to your property line if it is not already there (it may be across the street). You also need to find out about any tap-in fees or privilege fees charged by the municipality or the association providing the services. Do the same for gas, electrical, and phone services. Thoroughly investigating wells, the septic system, load-bearing capabilities, water and sewer fees, and zoning may take a few weeks.

When you purchased your lot, you were told — be sure you were — what utilities were available and how much they would cost. Now it’s time to make plans for a couple of months down the road with a few phone calls and/or a visit to each utility. Pay all fees and complete any necessary forms.

Arrange for temporary electric service for your contractors. Usually your electrician is responsible for installing the temporary electrical panel box and having it inspected, but you will have to apply for the service from the utility. This usually can be done over the phone.

I also recommend, and most locales require, a portable toilet on the job site. Sources for renting these can be found online. A dumpster is a must. You will be amazed at amount of trash generated in new construction.

If no temporary source of water is available, such as a house next door, you will have to have the well dug and temporarily wired for your contractors, who will be needed shortly.

County or city health inspectors may be required by code to determine the location of wells and septic systems. Tell them your plans for such things as gardens or driveways, or which trees you hope to save, to guide them in their decisions.

If you want natural gas and it’s not available, use propane. It’s just as efficient and not too much more…still cheaper than electricity for whole house heating. The propane tank is often free with a long term propane gas contract. Propane gas furnaces and water heaters can be installed that are equal to natural gas in efficiency.

Here’s a unique way to heat! An outdoor wood burning furnace! Burns wood efficiently (pellet versions available) to heat water for all your heating needs. Check with local codes as to burning wood.

Carl Heldmann