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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
  • 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.

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