Phil McPhail

What you need to know before buying or building a Maine off grid cabin

            The dream of a remote cabin deep in the Maine woods is appealing to many. Before you jump in and make that purchase here are a few things you should know.

  • Seasonal or year-round – Before you make a buying decision define your goals or uses for the property. Is this going to be a recreational cabin location for weekends and vacations or a year-round residence? The answer to this question will guide you to make a better decision on location, site qualities, existing building requirements and other issues particular to you.
  • Private Roads – Living off the grid often means that your property is located far from a public maintained road. While this may be part of the appeal to many people, it does require some thought and potentially additional on-going expense. Often the road accessing an off-grid cabin is part of a road owners association.                                                                          Associations are setup to cost share the maintenance of bridges, culverts, ditches and other infrastructure necessary for the safe use of a private road. In my experience with organized road associations annual dues range from $100 to $300. This fee usually does not include winter plowing. If your property is located on a private road or long driveway that is not shared with others, the cost of this road maintenance will be all on you.
  • Alternative Power – Whether living off grid full time or part time, most of us want some modern conveniences. Things like lighting and refrigeration we take for granted in our on grid homes are different in your remote cabin with no power poles in sight. For the weekender cabin you may not need any power. Packing ice and food in the cooler and some flash lights or lanterns for lighting may be all you need. Cooking your dinner on the wood stove or open fire, can be a very satisfying accomplishment, however most of us today want or need electric power to fully enjoy our properties.                              Options for powering your life off grid vary from LP gas lighting, refrigeration and cooking stoves, solar power, gas or diesel generators, wind turbines, or combinations of all these. Call an expert before you jump into this. A good understanding of your site and what your power needs are will determine what you should do from the start. Many have made the mistake of not planning for these requirements and are unhappy with the results and spend unnecessary funds to upgrade or replace systems later.
  • Permits – Just because you have found a remote location with few if any other humans in site you are still going to need a building permit. If the property is located in an organized Maine township this can be obtained from the local town office or code enforcement officer. If the location is in one of the states unorganized territories a building permit is also required. It is obtained from the Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC) online or at the regional office assigned to your location. Here is a link to the online permit application https://www.maine.gov/dacf/lupc/application_forms/applications/BP_App_2016.pdf
  • Cheaper Land – Off-grid locations which are often hundreds of miles away from large employers and cities, have less potential value than locations closer to those areas. Highest and best uses in these remote locals are often timber and recreation. These values tend to be more stable but don’t usually have rapid increases in value. So, when you are searching Maine for property and find large tracts of land for what appear to be unbelievable prices, DO NOT expect to find this low cost land close to a city.
  • Try it before you buy it – Locating a parcel, building a cabin, setting up an off-grid power supply and everything else involved is a major investment. If you are not sure this is for you but want to see if it is, why not rent an off-grid property for a week or two. Contact us today about an off grid cabin available for rent at 207-794-4338.

Working Land For Whitetail Deer

Coastal Maine WhitetailMaine’s whitetail deer herd has been improving over the past few years with the 2018 deer harvest being the highest since 2002. The herd is showings signs of the population returning to levels seen prior to severe winters of the last decade. The 2019 harvest totals are expected to be lower than last year but still in the neighborhood of 28,000 when the final totals area available.

Recently I asked Nathan Bieber, deer biologist with Maine DIFW, what landowners and hunters can do to help maintain a healthy whitetail deer herd. These are a few of the practices and management techniques he shared with me.

Work with neighbors

Nathan pointed out that whitetail deer need the same things that we do for survival; food, water and cover. If you have neighbors with an interest in good deer and land management coordinating efforts with them can have a bigger impact on the local population than a small landowner can affect on their own. In many cases, opening your land to responsible hunters either openly or by permission can help with deer management. Too many deer can be a problem for both deer and humans.

Work with a professional forester

Most of us who own any amount of acreage in Maine have some if not all forested land. The so called “park like” setting of an even aged canopy, with little to no ground cover, looks nice and is pleasant to walk through but offers little for deer.  A timber harvest can be a deer’s best friend, especially during winter when the treetops brought to the ground become a welcome browse during these months.

Most small timberland owners will greatly benefit from the experience and knowledge of a professional forester. A good forester will help us get a good return on the timber sale and provide advice for promoting wildlife habitat.

Guard Against CWD

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a prion disease that can have devastating effects on both whitetails and moose. If you are an avid hunter who takes trips to other parts of the country be cautious of accidentally bringing this to Maine.

To help prevent the spread of CWD Nathan recommended the following precautions:

Hunters need to be aware of and follow regulations on the transportation of deer carcasses. If you’re bringing a deer into Maine from another state, it needs to be boned out and free of any high-risk materials such as brain tissue, spinal tissue, and lymph tissue. 

Since the infectious prions responsible for CWD can be found in bodily fluids such as urine, we recommend hunters use synthetic lures and scents rather than natural urine scents. 

For folks that feed deer, get locally grown feed and keep it spread out on the landscape rather than all in one small area.

Lastly, be vigilant and communicate with your area wardens and biologists if you see a deer that is emaciated and behaving abnormally. Depending on case details, that may be a deer we need to remove and have tested. Early detection is very important with CWD.

Need More Help

Want to know more about managing your property for whitetails? Contact Maine DIFW and a good professional forester today. The state district forester who works in your area is also a good contact to make. You can find all these folks online or give us a call today for a list of names and contact information.

 

 

Heating with Firewood | Maine Homesteading

Rick Theriault- Your Maine Real Estate Guide is thinking ahead! Getting that wood shed full before the snow flies. He explains some of the science behind a good quality firewood. Plus he gets to play on his Kubota tractor, so there's an added bonus.

Comments

  1. carljo on

    Thank you for the shared video explanation. This is exactly what I looked for. Appreciate your great help in this. Waiting for the new one :-)

    Maine Spring Recreation

    Maine Spring Recreation

    I know it doesn’t quite look like spring is here yet in many areas of Maine, but we know it is coming. For some, spring brings with-it pent-up demand to get outside and recreate. Here are some ideas for recreating in early spring.

    Hiking Trails

    Spring time hiking offers the reward of uncrowded trails, views not available when the leaves are on and wildlife sightings from unpressured animals. In many places you will need to bring a variety of foot wear possibly including snowshoes. North facing slopes of mountain trails can be a nice challenge, just be prepared for the ice and snow.Dam Pool Grand Lake Stream

    Open Water Fishing Season – April 1st

    Yes, it is still cold and most of our lakes remain covered in feet of ice, but some of our rivers and streams are open and produce good fishing. In eastern Maine you can try your luck at Grand Lake Stream for landlocked salmon and brook trout. Just south of Baxter State Park the West Branch of the Penobscot River is fishable, though I recommend you watch the weather forecast and pick a nice day. It can turn winter like this close to Mount Katahdin. Most anglers this early in the season concentrate their efforts in Nesourdnahunk Deadwater for salmon and trout. Be sure to check the rules before you head out on an outing at this link to open water fishing regulations.

     

    Late Season Snowmobiling in Northern Maine

    While most of the world is starting to bloom in mid to late March, far northern Maine is still heavily covered in snow and for those still in need of a snowmobiling fix, the Fort Kent area should be on your radar. The trails can vary in quality depending on the weather, but for those hardcore riders, long sunny days and no crowds can make it worth the effort.

    Spring Turkey SeasonMaine turkey hunting

    For those that like calling in a gobbler the spring turkey season opens April 29th in WMD’s 7 – 29. The season for WMD’s 1-6 have special season and dates see this link to Maine IF&W site for all the details. Follow this link to the MIFW information on spring turkey hunting.

    Map of Maine WMD

    Make Some Maple Syrup

    Collecting sap from maple trees on your property can be an early spring activity with a sweet reward. Here are links to a two-part video by our own Rick Theriault, the Maine Real Estate Guide, showing the entire process.

    Tap to Table 1  Tap to Table 2

    Buying Recreational Property

     If you are looking for a recreational property for hunting, fishing, hiking, trail riding and other outdoor adventures see our property listings organized for recreational use with prices to fit any budget with small country lots and homes to thousands of acres of wild land in Maine. Start your recreational property search HERE.

    Honey Bee Update | MAINE REAL ESTATE

    Rick Theriault- Your Maine Real Estate Guide is back with another update on his honey bees. After a long winter its time for them to get out, stretch their wings and cleanse their tiny bodies. In the next few weeks they should start feeding on the same maple trees he has been making his maple syrup

    Tap to Table | Episode 2

    The sap has been gathered and its time to boil some syrup!

    Pro Tips: 
    * Don't boil syrup start to finish in your home you will turn it into a sauna!
    * Filter your sap- no one wants bark on their pancakes!
    * Temperature matters- an end temp of about 220 degrees is ideal. 
    * Remember the 40-1 ratio: 40 quarts of sap = about 1 quart of syrup
    * Always keep some ice cream on hand (This one might be the most important)

    Tap to Table | Episode 1

     

    Did you know 40 gallons of sap to yield 1 gallon of syrup? Rick Theriault- Your Maine Real Estate Guide starts a video series about tapping maple trees for syrup in northern Maine.

    Here are the steps covered in this first in the series:

    Step 1. Tree identification

    Step 2. Drill a hole & 'tap' the tree

    Step 3. Collect the sap in a bucket

     

    Stay tuned for the next installment!

      Comments

      1. No comments. Be the first to comment.

      Market Trends and Predictions 2019

       

      I am writing this post from the Realtors Land Institute National Land Conference in Albuquerque NM. This annual conference is attended by about 500 of the top land agents across America.  During the three-day conference we network with other land professionals and attend lectures by national economists, political analysts, scientists and other experts speaking on a wide array of topics related to land use and sales.

      Economist Dr. Mark Dotzour shared his opinion that the US economy will continue to do well in the coming year. His analysis of current trends and historical data do not point towards a looming recession, as some of the national media have been touting. His advice to shut off your CNN and Fox News feed, which he feels is pure propaganda, was well received by attendees. Indicators such as a consumer confidence index at an 18-year high, a 3.5% wage increase nationwide in 2018, over 7 million open jobs in the US, low oil prices and low interest rates should keep the national land market up for 2019. Expect interest rates to creep up a little bit this year. The fed will look to make some room to drop rates when the next recession comes. At the current rates there is not much room to drop

      A land use gaining momentum in the western and southeastern US, which I believe will become a larger niche market in Maine, is “glamping”. Glamping is roughly defined as glamourous camping utilizing extravagant canvas tents, tree houses, and other unique structures. Cost per night stays range from $100 to more than $300. I spoke to several western ALC’s whose clients have purchased property to develop this niche business. Be careful investing in this in heavily regulated areas of the state, Colorado towns have started to zone the use out as undesirable.

      By 2020 the millennials will become the nation’s largest demographic. Many in this group are saddled with a lot of debt and are still living at home, however, about 19% of them live in their own home. Millennials are beginning to consider land as an investment that doubles for recreation. I have personally sold land in the past year to this group. They do not have the knowledge about land investing that was more common in Gen Xers passed on by their baby boomer parents, but they are intelligent buyers eager to learn more about the investment side of land. Expect to see more Maine land purchased by this group in 2019.

      The hot topic in land this year is industrial hemp because the new farm bill legalized the growing of cannabis plants containing less than .3% THC. This level is where the federal governments differentiates between marijuana and hemp. CBD oil derived from hemp is the most profitable product to date. CDB oil has not been approved by the FDA, however consumers believe it relieves a host of ailments, including insomnia, anxiety, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder.

      Agricultural economist Dr. Terry Barr, spoke about a wide variety of topics. Top of his list is China’s slowing growth to about 6%. Overall worldwide growth rates are also slowing, with most increases in growth now coming from unadvanced countries. A strengthening US dollar taking buying power away from other countries will mean that US commodities will not do as well. He expects that US economy to grow more moderately than it has historically. New housing is being built strictly on demand as most spec builders are gone after the last big recession. He expects that residential housing markets will remain steady as they go.

      Despite predictions of slowing world growth, at our brokerage we have seen an increase in the number of requests for winter land showings and contracts written over the previous winter. Overall Maine land sales have slowed a little but most of that I believe is due to overall lower inventories of parcels. The hunting and recreational market is strong. We have many buyers looking for cabins and homes on 40+ acres. There has also been a high demand for agricultural properties. Timberland interest has also picked up. If you are considering a sale of your land give us a call to see what the current market values are in your area.