Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Q. We want to build a home on Vashon and have purchased a parcel of land.

We're really upset because all of the development costs have been so much higher than we were told they would be. The septic design cost more because we had to go through a bunch of reviews and have two different kinds of engineers come out. In the end it is a really expensive septic system to install. We were also assured that we could buy a water share but no one told us it was $10,000! An old timer on the Island told us that we could have the land clearing done in exchange for the wood but no one seems to do that anymore or else our wood isn't very good so we had to pay for the clearing. We bought direct from the seller and didn't use an agent. Do we have any recourse against her all of this added expense?

A. I'm not an attorney but in reviewing your purchase and sales agreement I see nothing in it that required the seller to provide you with anything other than clear title to the property. Had you worked with an agent they would have recommended that you make the purchase contingent upon your satisfaction with the septic design and with development costs. The agent could also have helped you research the other costs associated with developing the property so that you would have had a more realistic idea of what you were getting into.

Particularly with land sales, experienced real estate professionals play a pivotal role in helping the buyer get the information needed to go forward with a sale. Building a home isn't easy under the best of circumstances. To go into it naively believing what some "old timer" tells you is foolhardy.

I would recommend that you hire a general contractor or some other appropriate professional to shepherd your plans through King County and help you understand the costs associated with the building process. You should know about all of the costs before you get started.