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Author Topic: Home building - planning/zoning laws in NH?  (Read 10384 times)

doug2011

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Home building - planning/zoning laws in NH?
« on: March 26, 2011, 11:00:11 am »

I'm a structural engineer, and I plan to build my own home.

I plan to buy some land, and set up a mobile home on the land while my home is being built.

How easy/difficult is it to do this in NH?

Thanks for all replies
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anon37268573

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Re: Home building - planning/zoning laws in NH?
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2011, 11:15:08 am »

I'm a structural engineer, and I plan to build my own home.

I plan to buy some land, and set up a mobile home on the land while my home is being built.

How easy/difficult is it to do this in NH?

Thanks for all replies


It's not difficult at all in most parts of NH.  Many towns and areas do not have any zoning laws.
Grafton is one such town where many Free State early movers have settled.

Obviously, you'd have difficulty if you tried to put up a mobile home on Main Street in a major
city like Manchester.  But, if you're in anyplace that is at all small town/rural you should have
any problem at all.

I live in Salem, one of the largest towns in NH.  The large businesses here have been using
storage buildings the size of mobile homes in their parking lots for which no permit is needed.
Some old lady complained about it because she didn't like the way it "looked" and she had
nothing better to do.  She got it discussed at a town meeting but everyone just basically told
her to fuck off back to her cats and her craziness.

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MaineShark

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Re: Home building - planning/zoning laws in NH?
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2011, 01:39:39 pm »

I think you're more likely to run into a particular lot that has a deed restriction prohibiting mobile homes, than a town having a prohibition.

Don't buy land with a restriction, if that's important to you.

I'm looking at some land, right now, and the neighbors were concerned about such things, so we'll probably be voluntarily adding a restriction that mobile homes must be set back X feet, or not visible from the road.  That way, they are happy that I won't be building a trailer park next door, and I'm happy because I can put up a temporary structure without having to worry - either set it back, or put up a privacy fence, and it's good.

If you find land that has a restriction, but you really love it, you may be able to negotiate a change like that, to make it work for you.

As far as building, yourself, you're welcome to do so.  depending upon the town, you may have varying levels of inspections and such, from "zero" to "extensive."  Caveat emptor.  Of course, what we consider "extensive" may not compare to other places.  A carpenter I know who did some work in San Francisco told me that, among other nonsense, they even have a "drywall screw pattern" inspection.  So it all depends upon what you're used to, and where in NH you move, whether you will have more or less hassle...

Joe
« Last Edit: March 26, 2011, 01:41:21 pm by MaineShark »
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doug2011

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Re: Home building - planning/zoning laws in NH?
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2011, 02:52:05 pm »

I think you're more likely to run into a particular lot that has a deed restriction prohibiting mobile homes, than a town having a prohibition.

Don't buy land with a restriction, if that's important to you.

I'm looking at some land, right now, and the neighbors were concerned about such things, so we'll probably be voluntarily adding a restriction that mobile homes must be set back X feet, or not visible from the road.

Thanks Joe that's helpful. I'd want it set way back from the road anyway.

What kind of land are you buying, timber? What are the prices like? I'm probably looking in the SE I93 corridor
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MaineShark

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Re: Home building - planning/zoning laws in NH?
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2011, 03:13:01 pm »

I think you're more likely to run into a particular lot that has a deed restriction prohibiting mobile homes, than a town having a prohibition.

Don't buy land with a restriction, if that's important to you.

I'm looking at some land, right now, and the neighbors were concerned about such things, so we'll probably be voluntarily adding a restriction that mobile homes must be set back X feet, or not visible from the road.
Thanks Joe that's helpful. I'd want it set way back from the road anyway.

What kind of land are you buying, timber? What are the prices like? I'm probably looking in the SE I93 corridor

We're looking at doing farming, so if it's currently timber, we'll have to cut much of it.  Not that we want totally-open fields, but we'd have to clear a good bit.

Price per acre will vary dramatically, depending upon how large a lot you want, and how much of the land is usable.  Price per acre isn't really all that accurate, in the actual market.  It's more like you pay a relatively-stable amount, just because you're buying land, and then you pay a smaller amount per acre, above that.  There's a ~5ac lot near me that's selling for about half of what a similar, ~40ac lot is selling for.  The larger the lot, the lower your overall per-acre cost will be, in most cases.

And, like I mentioned, you need to consider what your use is.  Most folks tend to set pricing based upon buildability.  If there's a 100ac lot, with only one buildable site, it's going to tend to sell for similar or less than a substantially-smaller lot with two or more buildable sites.  Steep hills, marshland, etc. can impact that greatly.  If you just want to build one house, and turn the rest of the acreage into a maple syrup farm, you might not mind that most of it is a steep hill, as long as it's covered in lots of maples, so you could get a deal.  If you want to build a subdivision, you need to look for land that has multiple buildable sites.

SE does tend to be the most expensive area to look in, but it's also the most densely-populated, to it tends to be easier to earn a living, there.  Same for being close to 93 (and the other major highways, to a lesser extent).

You also want to look at property tax rates (which can vary widely from town to town), and valuations.  You need to know both in order to know what you will be likely to pay in taxes.  Some towns might have a low rate, but a tendency to give highly-inflated values to properties (which is pretty much legal , as long as they do so evenly within the town - they can't give two identical houses two different values).  Others may have a high rate, but a tendency to value properties fairly low.

Another thing to watch out for is "current use" taxation.  If a lot is over 10 acres, you can put it into "current use" status, which, oddly enough, means the opposite: you aren't using it, so you do that, and get a tax break, in exchange for letting others hike and such on it.  Properties under current use will have very low tax bills, which can be misleading if you intend to take it out of current use so that you can build on it.  And to take the lot (or any portion of it) out of current use, you have to pay a one-time fee equal to 10% of the market value of the property (either the whole thing, or just the acreage that you want to take out of current use, if it's less than the whole lot)(of course, as noted, you can't leave less than 10ac in current use).  Not a major problem, but something to keep in mind, so you don't see a really-low tax bill on a real estate listing and get mislead by it, and also so that you figure the cost of taking land out of current use, if that's your intent, when you make your offer.

Joe
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slothman

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Re: Home building - planning/zoning laws in NH?
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2011, 03:23:21 pm »

MaineShark, why would you know this?
Did you just look it up for this question?
Do you know alot of NH's zoning laws?
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MaineShark

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Re: Home building - planning/zoning laws in NH?
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2011, 03:39:36 pm »

MaineShark, why would you know this?
Did you just look it up for this question?

Not sure which "this" you're referring to, but generally, I live here, so you pick these things up over the years, and I'm looking at some relatively-large chunks of land, many (most?) of which will be partially or totally in current use, given how dramatically it reduces the property tax (tens or hundreds per year, versus thousands, in some cases).

Do you know alot of NH's zoning laws?

Zoning varies from town to town.  It can go from none (like here in Grafton), to extensive and detailed in some of the cities, or tourist-trap towns that have local governments intent on maintaining a certain "image."

Some towns may also have zoning, but put most of the town into a "general" zone, with minimal restrictions, and only have the town center subject to any substantial restrictiveness.

You typically need to decide on a "short list" of towns that you like, then do the research to find out what sort of restrictions they do and do not have.  Look for a development ordinance, or the existence of a planning board (in which case, contact them for whatever publications they have).  Most (nearly all, probably) towns will have minimum lot sizes (one of our only ordinances here in Grafton sets the minimum lot size at 2ac).  Others will add on detailed setback plans, and open space requirements, and other such restrictions.

There are rules regarding water wells and septic systems that are State-mandated, so even in a "unrestrictive" town like Grafton, we still have to deal with that nonsense.

Joe
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doug2011

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Re: Home building - planning/zoning laws in NH?
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2011, 03:51:27 pm »

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maxxoccupancy

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Re: Home building - planning/zoning laws in NH?
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2011, 10:16:37 pm »

One of the projects we're working on in Seabrook is easing up on (or possibly getting rid of) our zoning laws.  I don't know that it would be possible to get rid of them altogether, since we're short on activists, but I believe that you need a citizen's petition with 100 valid signatures.

Quote
    673:18 Abolishing Planning Board, Heritage Commission, Historic District Commission, Agricultural Commission, or Housing Commission. –
    I. The local legislative body of a city, of a county in which there are located unincorporated towns or unorganized places, or of a town operating under the town council form of government, shall determine the manner in which the planning board, the heritage commission, the historic district commission, the agricultural commission, or the housing commission may be abolished.
    II. In all other towns, upon a petition to abolish the planning board, the heritage commission, the historic district commission, the agricultural commission, or the housing commission, signed by 100 or more voters or 1/10 of the registered voters in town, whichever number is less, the planning board, heritage commission, historic district commission, agricultural commission, or housing commission shall submit the proposal to the town or village district in the same manner prescribed in RSA 675:4, except that the question put to the voters shall be in substantially the following form: "Are you in favor of abolishing the planning board (heritage commission, historic district commission, agricultural commission, or housing commission) as proposed by petition of the voters of this town (village district)?''

For anyone with a lot of time on their hands, this is a good way to bring a lot of people out to vote in March.
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doug2011

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Re: Home building - planning/zoning laws in NH?
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2011, 10:46:57 pm »

One of the projects we're working on in Seabrook is easing up on (or possibly getting rid of) our zoning laws.  I don't know that it would be possible to get rid of them altogether, since we're short on activists, but I believe that you need a citizen's petition with 100 valid signatures.

Thanks Maxx. I'd like to know what the differences are in zoning between towns. What is the way to find that out?
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John Edward Mercier

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Re: Home building - planning/zoning laws in NH?
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2011, 05:28:40 am »

Residents on the forum, or town offices are the best sources.
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Dreepa

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Re: Home building - planning/zoning laws in NH?
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2011, 05:58:04 am »

One of the projects we're working on in Seabrook is easing up on (or possibly getting rid of) our zoning laws.  I don't know that it would be possible to get rid of them altogether, since we're short on activists, but I believe that you need a citizen's petition with 100 valid signatures.

Thanks Maxx. I'd like to know what the differences are in zoning between towns. What is the way to find that out?


I think it varies so so widely.

If you posted some of the towns you are interested in... people could answer... or are you just looking at town's with none?

(there might be about 238 answers... one for each town)
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