Follow us in real time as we build a home in Lovettsville, Virginia!
Hi all! Just wanted to check in with an update on our ongoing new home construction project in Lovettsville. We closed on the lot on November 20th, so as of this writing we are roughly 60 days post-settlement.
What have we been doing in that time? In Loudoun County, a few things have to happen before you can start building.
Well and septic permits
As I mentioned in the last video, our initial soil evaluation suggested the site would be suitable for a 5 bedroom alternative septic system. Alternative septic systems tend to be more expensive to install than conventional septic systems, but when we accounted for the additional cost in our overall project budget, we concluded the cost would be justified.
After the initial soil evaluation, our Authorized Onsite Soil Evaluator (AOSE) returned to the site for a comprehensive evaluation and prepared a full report for the county. The county then reviewed the report and sent a representative to meet the AOSE at the site for a field review.
The field review was successful, which gave us the green light to submit a formal application for well and septic construction permits. As part of the application packet, the county requires detailed plans showing the technical design of the proposed septic system and a site plan showing the proposed locations of the well, the septic system and its various components, the house, and the driveway.
In case you’re wondering what a septic design looks like, here’s a picture of ours:
And here’s a site plan showing the well, drainfield, and house location:
The AOSE completed the application packet and submitted it for approval a couple of days before Christmas. We’re now waiting for a response from the Loudoun County Health Department.
Loudoun County requires a grading permit for any construction project that disturbs more than 5,000 square feet of land. While the foot print of our planned house is much smaller than 5,000 square feet, the driveway, drainfield installation, and other site work will put us over the 5,000 square foot threshold. Therefore, we need a grading permit.
To obtain a grading permit, we must submit an erosion and sediment control plan, also known as a grading plan. The grading plan is prepared by a civil engineer, and its purpose is to ensure that water drains correctly from the site. Poor grading can lead to foundation and structural problems with the house, erosion, excessive water runoff, or flooding.
We completed our grading plan and submitted it to the Loudoun County Department of Building and Development last week.
Based on research using Loudoun County’s WebLogis online mapping system, we anticipated wetlands on the site before we put the lot under contract. Accordingly, our second priority during the pre-settlement feasibility period (the first being the soil evaluation) was to hire an environmental consultant to confirm the presence of wetlands and delineate their boundaries.
The results of the environmental study confirmed that we could build on the site without impacting wetlands in a way that would require costly mitigation. We do, however, still need to obtain a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is the federal agency tasked with managing and protecting the nation’s water resources. Our application has been submitted, and we’re now waiting for approval.
Virginia Department of Transportation private entrance permit
Mountain Road, where our site is located, is a state maintained road that falls under the jurisdiction of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VODT). Consequently, we are required to obtain a VDOT land use permit before we can install a driveway that connects to Mountain Road.
VDOT-approved private entrances must be designed and constructed in accordance with VDOT’s Road and Bridge Standards. These standards cover things like curb and gutter requirements, entrance grades, and sight lines.
VDOT permits are issued at the state level and are entirely separate from county permits.
Commercial construction loan
The approval process for a commercial construction loan is a little different than the approval process for a consumer construction loan. With a consumer loan, the lender is most interested in the personal financial qualifications of the applicant, the builder’s track record, and whether the finished home will appraise for a sufficiently high value.
While these are important considerations for commercial lenders, commercial lenders also need to be convinced that the project will be profitable. In other words, because we plan to sell the house upon completion, the lender must be confident in the economics of the project. The lender makes this decision based on a pro-forma financial statement and an assessment of current market conditions.
We submitted our loan application and supporting documents in early December. We were approved within 30 days and closed on the loan during the first week of January. Therefore, we are now fully funded and ready to go, pending permit approvals.
Those are all the updates for now. I hope everyone’s year is off to a great start, and I’ll talk to you again soon!
P.S. – If you’re looking for land to build a home in Loudoun County or elsewhere in Northern Virginia, call me anytime at 202-750-4050 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.