Grange Stock Estate area???
Onine, I see several lots of land for sale in the Grange Stock Estate area. It looks peaceful and beautiful, but I was hoping that some of you would be willing to share some further thought on the area. I know everyone has different preferences, but your impressions of the area would be wonderful.
It does look fairly barren, as well, is it very windy maybe? What does the weather tend to be like in that area? And how far of a drive would that be from the Country Day School?
Thanks for all of your insight!! Your time and thoughts are very appreciated!!
Grange Stock Estate is on the southshore, fairly well east on the island. The southeast shore of STX is largely undeveloped, with open fields running most of the way to the water. A large number of Grange Stock lots came on the market a few months back and they have been selling rapidly. It's a fairly quick drive into Christiansted from there (up hwy 62 from Great Pond), but would be a little longer to get to Country Day. Figure 20-25 minutes one-way if you don't hit the traffic wrong by Hovensa or Sunny Isle. The south shore road is empty of traffic much of the time. The views out to the south shore are wide open and expansive with the beautiful greens and blues shimmering away each day for your viewing pleasure.
The weather in this area is on the dry side, as it's pretty far east and the rain pattern is more focused on the west half of the island. You can count on a nice breeze most of the time and the temperature will be in the 80s no matter where you are on the island nearly every day of the year.
This is far enough out of the city to put some distance between you and the housing projects. The lots are fairly large and are likely to wind up with large, upscale homes built on most of them as the years go by. That's what's happening in the Union & Mt. Washington area that is also nearby.
Thanks a lot Alexandra!
Sounds great! Now....Hmmmm......???? I need to figure out how I can make that happen!!
Alexandra, My husband and I are contemplating building. Can you recommend what steps we should take to evaluate the feasability and cost? We've never built before and aren't sure where to start when it comes to financing, builder choice, etc... Any direction you can provide is greatly appreciated!
There are a number of steps involved in a feasability study and the costs associated with building. Ultimately you would need a surveyor, an engineer, an architect, a builder... and someone at DPNR to cooperate with your application for a permit to build on the piece of land you choose. If you choose something close to the water, CZM would also need to approve your permit to clear the lot and to build.
Steep lots are MUCH more expensive to build on, as you have higher excavating costs and higher engineering costs and higher building costs than on land that is mostly level or a gentle slope. You might also have more run-off issues to deal with on steeper slopes. You are better off paying a little more for a lot to get something easier to build on than in hoping that the costs to build on a cheaper hillside lot don't break your budget.
When evaluating builders, figure out the type of house you want to build. Most homes here are masonry block, but some are poured concrete, some are pre-fabricated panels, and a very few are stick-built with wood framing. Different builders may have more experience in your chosen type of construction. Most builders have a backlog of people to build for, so your timeline is also a factor to discuss with the builders you speak to.
Different builders will quote you different prices per square foot. Most will bill by time and materials, which can get very expensive for you. If you get them to bid for cost of materials and a margin to cover labor, you stand a better chance of staying closer to your budget. Some builders will agree to let you do some of the finish work yourselves if you want and others don't want to go that route. The quality of finish work and materials you choose can greatly affect the cost of your house.
Some people find that getting much of the material on the mainland and shipping it down in a full container saves them about half of the materials cost. You also then get the bonus of not having to wait for the hardware store to get some special item in stock before work can continue. Keep a close eye on your building materials, though, or they may walk off the site.
It can take a long time to complete a construction project in the islands. Sometimes the labor doesn't show up and sometimes we're out of concrete for weeks at a time. Many times it works well to design a home that can be built in a couple of phases, especially for larger homes. The first phase/pod can be a one bedroom home and future pods can be built with extra bedrooms and bathrooms. That way you can move into Phase I when it is complete and at least you can begin to enjoy your new home while the remainder of the construction drags on. For fast construction, you can also take a look at the Force 10 prefabricated homes to see if they would suit your needs. They cost less per square foot than masonry homes and they go up in much less time. www.force-10.com
When selecting your lot, you want to look at a variety of factors. The slope or steepness of the lot is very important, but other things you should watch for include:
Look for stormwater drainage guts that cross the property. They can badly impact your construction plans. Having a drainage stream along the perimeter or on the adjacent lot can be a positive factor, as it gives your own run off a place to drain to easily. You might want to visit a piece of land during a rain storm (when the opportunity is there) so you can see the pattern of the water flow in the area.
If the land faces east or northeast or southeast, you will catch more of a breeze. The wind seldom blows from the west. You might find a great view on a westward facing slope, but try visiting that site in the middle of the day and see how much breeze blows by. Sometimes land contour can route a breeze through what would seem an unlikely area, but don't count on that.
Property with an ocean view has a better re-sale value down the road whether an ocean view matters to you or not. Some people don't demand an ocean view... but they also don't object to one. If you have the option, pick something with a view. This does not mean that it has to be a view of a specific stretch of the beach in a particular region of the island. The Caribbean is beautiful from all angles.
If waterfront, look at the type of bank it has at the waterline to see if erosion will be an issue to address. Seawall permits are tough to get from DPNR/CZM and only some parts of the island have natural rock seawalls to protect the land from waves and runoff erosion.
Consider the type of road that approaches the land. Dirt roads require more frequent maintenance and that might cost you more over time than a property that has a paved road running to it. How close is the nearest WAPA pole and wiring?
The further east you go, the larger cistern you will need to make it through the dryer season. Construction cost for cisterns is generally quoted at a price per gallon of volume.
Look at the neighborhood around the lot you are considering. Check into any covenants and restrictions. Evaluate the other homes in the area or under construction to see if it is being built into a neighborhood you want to live in. Look at the sightlines to views, if any, and keep in mind that if someone is able to build in front of you the view may go away.
Consider the distance to work, groceries, restaurants, town, hospital, gas stations, friends, your favorite activities, etc. It's a small island, but anyone who lives here long begins to think in a smaller frame of reference that includes just a five mile radius instead of the 50 mile radius they lived within on the mainland.
Check out the traffic flow at the hours you would most likely be driving in the area if you lived there. Consider the kind of car you drive and how compatible it is with the condition of the neighborhood roads.
For construction financing, you will probably need to work with a local bank as the lender. You can possibly convert the construction loan into a long-term loan with a different mortgage broker when the house is complete if the original lender drives you nuts during the process. Some builders will have relationships with a bank they work with for construction financing and they can give you some pointers or set you up with a specific bank officer to handle your application and process the account.
And of course, along the way you will probably work with a Realtor as you select your lot. Beware the ones who encourage you to purchase steep land in a drainage gut that faces west and has no view!
Thanks for all of the info Alexandra. You have certainly given us a lot to think about. I guess we'll get to doing some research and see where things go.