It’s always the first hurdle: where to locate your new log home. If you’re considering a new location some distance away from your present location, it really pays to do your homework before committing to one specific site.

More than anything, the location of the home base in relation to regular activities, such as work, church, shopping, schools and recreation, will affect how much energy you consume. Building a super efficient home with a low carbon footprint — and resulting lower costs— will be an exercise in futility if it is not situated within easy access of the lifestyle amenities we all consume. Distances can be mitigated somewhat by easy access to public transportation, ownership of a high-efficiency vehicle or a dedication and climate to be able to ride a bicycle or walk to amenities.

Building with an eye on the future
Review the site not only in relation to its community now, but try to project how it will look in the next decade or two. Is your “rural” area on the outskirts of a larger metropolitan area? Is it near mass transport, such as a large highway or commuter rail? Is it an area that is currently experiencing a lot of growth or are services, infrastructure and communities deteriorating? What plans and zoning will be applicable to areas immediately adjacent to your site? It will pay to check to see if the community has a 5- or 10-year development plan, a development corridor they might be developing, or a type of industry they would love to attract locally. Is the tax roll heavily dependent on one entity for revenues, such as a power plant, manufacturer or government facility? If so, what happens to taxes if that taxpayer shuts down?

Other types of development
In many rural areas, hydraulic fracture drilling or “fracking” is driving local development and affecting landowners’ rights. Fracking is considered controversial because of the large amounts of water and chemicals used in the process, and the potential effect on local aquifers. Ask about mineral rights sales on adjacent land holdings, if possible.

Wind energy development is another area to research in areas that have a steady amount of unobstructed wind views. If you find that your views may be affected by a wind turbine project or you are unsure of how proximity might affect you, the local community could offer some insights as to what direction this development might take. Some wind developer agreements offer tax advantages to municipalities that could positively affect property taxes and town services. If the tax base is heavily subsidized by wind, it could mean a very positive lifestyle.

Disaster Awareness
Every area has the potential for a weather-related challenge, be it tornado, earthquake, hurricane, flooding, drought or blizzard. Given the seemingly increased frequency of these disasters, it makes sense to try to locate a new home and design it to mitigate the effects of these possible disasters. To start with, Katahdin Cedar Log Homes is a structurally solid home choice and we have many customers who have survived dramatic storms or other events relatively intact.

However, if the site is located in a potential flood zone, making some design changes might save your family in the future. Opting for an elevated first floor or use of modified stilts is one option that is used for homes in southern areas where flooding frequently occurs. For areas where heavy rainfall occurs, eliminating a flood prone basement and building a second floor instead might be the wise option. Check you local flood plain surveys and note 100-year flood marks as those that could happen in the not too distant future. Moving the building site back from a body of water by 100 feet might make the difference in a surprise flood and still preserve the visual amenities from the home.

For areas that are subject to earthquakes, local zoning should indicate measures that need to be incorporated in your home’s construction. If winter storms are accompanied by power outages, consider your site in relation to the power grid, and take a serious look at buried power lines as part of your infrastructure. If necessary, incorporate a propane generator with a buried tank as part of your home’s defense.