Well you did it! You bought your dream property and now you want to get building and need electricity, water and septic installed. Now what?
We sell a majority of our Colorado property in Costilla County, so let’s focus on that area (but most will apply to other areas as well!).
You have 3 basic options for water on your property, you can drill a well,have water delivered to a cistern and then pumped into your home, or do a rainwater catchment system.
Water wells are a very common way to get water into your home. In Costilla County depths can range from 80 feet to over 1,000 feet! The average is 100-300 feet deep. Because depth can vary so much, knowing how much it will cost can be tricky. A 100 ft well will cost an average of $7,000 and a 450ft well would be around $12,500.
Flow rates are over 0.5 gallons per minute on average and is plenty for an average household. Water quality from wells in Costilla County is excellent and rarely needs much attention
Water delivery is a very popular option in Costilla County because it is very cost effective, especially if this is not going to be a full time home, have a small family, or want to live a greener lifestyle and be water conscious.
Water is available for $10/ 500 gallons at the San Luis Water Department and several people have a tank on a trailer to haul their own water.
Sangre de Cristo Water Services delivers to Sangre de Cristo Ranches and Forbes Park – Water delivery is a $6.50/mile travel to your property and then $100 for 1000 gallons of water. There is a 1000 gallon minimum, so make sure when you are installing your cistern it’s at least 1000 gallons or you will end up paying for water you don’t get! There are other water haulers in the area that will deliver up to 3000 gallons for $120.
A 1000 gallon take and a 12v pump will cost you around $1,000. A fully winterized system with a 1500 gallon buried tank, buried pump house with pressure tank and heat tape wrapping the pipes will run around $4,000.
Rain barrels are allowed in Colorado! For years they were not allowed because opponents (like the CO Farm Bureau) were concerned about the impact of downstream users that hold expensive water rights. Luckily in 2013 that all changed and a bill was passed into law that allows 2 rain barrels with a combined capacity of 110 gallons per household. While that is not a lot of water, it would be a great option if you are just building a cabin for weekend or holiday use!
Next is a waste system. This is an important one if you want to do anything more than a camping weekend spot.
A 1000 gallon septic tank, delivered and placed into a hole runs around $650. Connection piping and perforated distribution piping will cost about $600. Excavation and backfill can add another $500. A permit is required and a percolation test, that costs $375. All together, a septic system will cost from $2200-$2500 if the owner gets the permit, witnesses the perc test, and installs the piping. A turn-key job by a contractor will run $3500 -$4000 to get a fully installed system.
This is a big one! Many people want the off grid lifestyle and to not have to rely on the state provided power grid. How nice would it be to not get monthly utility bills!!!? But what are the options?
About half the people in the non-incorporated areas of Costilla County rely on alternate systems. They usually have one to four solar panels, one or more wind generators, a 12-v to 120v converter and a battery pack as a power source and that is usually backed up by a 1000-w- 5000w gasoline generator.
They will have a 200-500 gallon propane tank with propane delivered on a regular basis by several reliable local vendors (Monte Vista Cooperative is a popular choice).
Propane is used for gas cooking, baking and heating. Many people have wood stoves and use wood as their main heating fuel. There are regular “Woodfests” scheduled several times each year, where people go up into private forests and cut down dead trees for firewood, and they are charged $10 per pick-up load.
Most people are familiar with the propane refrigerators and freezers in recreational vehicles. Full size propane refrigerators and freezers are available from Servel and other manufactures and these usually cost $200 to $300 more than the same size electric model. These have a long life, are quite efficient, and actually cost less to operate, than similar electric models.
A starter power system ( good for 120-watts for 4 hours) costs about $1,500. This is enough to run a 13″ TV/VCR, a couple of 14 watt fluorescent bulbs, to recharge cell phones and laptops, and to provide a control voltage to the propane refrigerator.
A medium system, ( 1500 watt-hours) professionally installed, with the solar panels on sturdy racks, pointing in the best southerly direction, will cost about $10,000. Sunny Daze in Blanca is a reliable vendor for these systems. A full size system, that allows microwave, vacuum cleaners, large electric motors, etc can cost $20,000+
So there you have it! A very brief summary of some things and costs you can expect when starting to build on your new land!