gearplan_music

Hydrant and telephone pole blocking future driveway

GearPlan Music
12 days ago

Hi. Im looking at a flag lot where I have a thin strip of land I would have to build a driveway on to get to where the house would go. Problem is the entrance to the only place to put a driveway has not only a telephone pole but a fire hydrant blocking it. I understand easements but is it possible to get them moved? Who's responsible for the costs? I understand there won't be any definitive answers to these next 2 questions but approximately how much would it be and how long would it take? Its a rare parcel in a great area which is why Im asking. If I can overcome this its a big win. Its in New York.


Comments (31)

  • live_wire_oak
    12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    Never buy a flag lot. Ever. Problem solved.

    GearPlan Music thanked live_wire_oak
  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art
    12 days ago

    Is this your house?




    Notice the careful split driveway design around each side of the pole...

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    12 days ago

    Yes they can be moved.

    Chances are the property owner is responsible for costs.

    How much will it be? How many spare arms and legs do you have?

    How long will it take? Are you a patient person?


    Find out who determined the property lines and what their intentions were.

  • mainenell
    12 days ago

    What is a flag lot?

  • devonfield
    12 days ago

    You may have better luck asking the seller of Lot 3 if they will sell you a slice of their land to give you better driveway access.

  • lookintomyeyes83
    12 days ago

    For the right price, its possible the utility might replace it. Likely youd have to sign a new easement agreement to put the pole elsewhere, and pay for all removal costs. You're talking in the tens of thousands of dollars for the fix, so consider that in your price.

  • Jim Mat
    12 days ago

    California, about 20 yrs agp, a co worker said he paid $20k to move a utility pole. The pole had a transformer.

    Some places in CA, a 1/4 acre lot may cost $500k+

    You maybe responsible for the costs, and it maybe $20-$50k based on CA costs.


  • patriceny
    12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    Please make 100% certain you can build on the flag lot. Call the authority which issues building permits for new homes in your location yourself and ask.

    I know someone who bought a very beautiful 5 acre flag lot parcel and never confirmed it was something the town would issue a building permit for.

    What he has now is a beautiful spot for a picnic. No building permit for flag lots in this town, end of story.

    Also confirm whatever municipal services you want will fit in your flag "pole." Water, sewer, electric all have to fit in your flag or you need easements. And lots of money.

    FYI this was NY. Maybe my friend is selling his lot. Ha!

  • maifleur03
    12 days ago

    Depending on what the easement is you may not even be able to build the house there since it is only twenty feet from the edge of the property. You have a lot of research to do and hopefully you have not yet purchased the property.

  • chispa
    12 days ago

    You could make an offer contingent on getting answers to these questions and more. Your contingency period will have to be much longer than normal.

  • GearPlan Music
    Original Author
    12 days ago

    Thanks for all the helpful answers. I really do appreciate it. I haven't bought it. At this point Im trying to figure out if its going to be worth it to start getting people out to give estimates. Seems like the first stop is going to be talking to the local building department to see if I can even get a permit to build. That could end this quickly, then the the utilities and then the hydrants and telephone poles.

  • Jim Mat
    12 days ago

    A Flag lot resembles a flag on a pole. The pole is the driveway, the flag is the lot.


    There are also key hole lots. Can you guess what a key hole lot resembles?

  • strategery
    12 days ago

    I think you should build an Imperial Star Destroyer on your lot and take over.

  • chispa
    12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    Also check for any local Fire Truck access laws/codes.

    The "pole" looks to be around 15 ft wide. If your neighbors fence that section and/or plant large trees next to the property line, you will have a hard time getting any delivery trucks or construction equipment close to the house .

    Septic or sewer?

    If septic, makes your offer contingent on a perc test.

  • maifleur03
    12 days ago

    While talking to the local building department is good I would first call the various utilities to find out if you could look at their easement maps. That would tell you if the corner of your house would be within their easement as I think it would be based on the size of the easements here. You may find that one of the utilities is easier to obtain the information from than the other.

    Is there actually an existing road at your proposed exit?

  • roccouple
    12 days ago

    i don’t have anything useful about your driveway and utilities. But, in case you have questions about flag lots, We live and built on a flag lot. Lived in the old house many years, knocked it down and rebuilt.


    A flag lot has pros and cons. The cons are a lack of a neighborhood feel, And you will have a heck of a time giving directions (every time there’s turnover at fed ex we stop existing for a while) Also the relationship with the neighbor you drive by can be tricky I have directions to my house pre written and I copy and paste whenever anyone is coming by. I never let them use gps :). I miss the possibility of having trick or treaters. Even though they may be on our street they’d never know to come up here.


    the big pro is privacy. It’s like living in the middle of the country but you’re In the city. It’s quiet and sort of magical that way. It’s peaceful.


    another thing relevant to building is that the unusual configuration makes it easier to get variances

  • cpartist
    12 days ago

    I would never buy a flag pole lot. The problem is your house is then facing the back of the house in front and it will lower the value of your house.

  • Daisy S
    11 days ago

    Just say no.

  • roccouple
    11 days ago

    If you build new on a flag lot you can orient your house however is best. Ours is back to back with our nearest neighbor. And the lot is large so it’s almost like having no neighbors. like everything it depends on location and the specifics of the lot. For us, it’s definitely nicer than being on a city street! And google street view etc can’t see us at all.


    but it’s unusual and probably would not appeal to all. As far as resale i think it’s a mixed bag. Most of resale is location location location so the op will be fine And could probably build on a landfill. For us, we live in a desirable area with few newer homes so we get unsolicited offers The age of the home and size of lot is what people get excited over

  • bpath reads banned books too
    11 days ago

    My father’s house is on a flag lot. It does sort of face the back of the house in front, but the back of that house is beautiful, Dad’s windows mostly face the other way, and they are on large lots, lots of trees in the neighbor’s lot.

    Instead of an easement for the driveway, he has a “deed in perpetuity”, which I’m going to have to figure out as we move towards putting it on the market.

  • PRO
    Jeffrey R. Grenz, General Contractor
    11 days ago

    The value of the lot is typical flag lot price, less the cost of moving both, permits and hearings and all associated x 2. Why? the lot is not yet "fully developed" into a building lot until that is done. I just cancelled an escrow on a $200K lot worth $300K+ if it was buildable as was, but ultimately would have required $150K minimum to bring in water and sewer.... plus a year.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    11 days ago

    It is possible to design a house that does not "face" anywhere. All views of a home, from any angle, can be attractive. Many people are of the mindset that the "front" of a house is where the formal entry is and all the masonry goes. The design of houses that emerge from the site do not have a front or back, they just fit.

  • shivece
    11 days ago

    The issues with the utility pole are obtaining the legal right to use its “new” location (pole placement plus possible overhead or underground easement on an adjoining property for your service drop) plus having having enough clearance etc. to install the new pole and your service drop in accordance with the National Electric Safety Code and any local requirements. If you aren’t moving the pole very far, re-engineering the distribution line may be least of your problems - or not, depending on the situation. If you are lucky the pole can be moved along an existing utility or city right of way, leaving only the service drop issue. This is such a production you may be hard pressed to find anyone at the utility that will take it on and you may not even be able to get the public utility regulatory body to help you if the utility tells you “no way”. You will probably have to hire an attorney and possibly an electrical consultant to take care of everything except physically moving the pole. Before you do that, you need to make sure the utility will actually move the pole if you put all the necessary pieces together and they agree you have done what is required. You do have the leverage of becoming a new customer, but that may not be enough to overcome this logistical nightmare. The fire hydrant is almost worse, because you have similar issues but are likely dealing with a municipal entity that isn’t getting any benefit from all the effort. And as another commenter pointed out, you also have to squeeze water and sewer in there somehow.

  • roccouple
    11 days ago

    I agree with Mark Bischak that the design of a house on a flag lot (or any unusual lot) is important. When we rebuilt we used an architect to design the house. This house only makes sense for this lot; it would be really really strange anywhere else. A normal house or stock plan would have been a disaster here.


    That may be another consideration for this lot - you may need to put more work and money into the design. For us it was worth it. I think a talented architect is needed for that kind of project. We also did a lot of work and went back and forth a lot. It was a lot of work for *us* to work with the architect on the design. A lot of time was spent, and a larger percentage of our overall build budget. We already lived here so we knew the lot's quirks which helped.


    We have to get variances for many things which isn't really a problem. But that's another thing - with an unusual configuration the normal rules don't make sense so we do have to go through that variance process for nearly every project. We have gotten good at it though, and it has never yet been a problem.

  • GearPlan Music
    Original Author
    11 days ago

    I've found out the properties on either side use private wells and septic tanks so those utilities are, most likely, taken care of.

  • GearPlan Music
    Original Author
    11 days ago

    As far as the how the house is facing, in regards to other houses, its a .75 acre lot and the houses on other lots are over an acre. The only I'll see on the neighbors property is trees.

  • patriceny
    11 days ago

    Gearplan - again, please make sure. In my area of NY you can't get a building permit for a house on a well and septic if the lot is less than an acre.

  • GearPlan Music
    Original Author
    11 days ago

    Another good thing to know. Thank you.

  • kathyg_in_mi
    4 days ago

    We had an electrical pole moved and it cost us $5,000 around 2003.

  • B Carey
    3 days ago

    I've found out the properties on either side use private wells and septic tanks so those utilities are, most likely, taken care of.

    Before buying any property that needs a septic and well, you should make sure you can get a septic and well on THAT parcel. A septic system and well will cost you minimum of $15,000...but could be more. I will be $9200 for my septic and a well would have been $10K...but they couldn't find water.

  • kathyg_in_mi
    yesterday

    And will the property pass a perk test for the septic?

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