Elevation of the Land
Building on Stilts
Waterfront property buyers should be especially careful about this factor. When you see a nice waterfront lot on a
dry sunny day, it can be very hard to imagine being flooded out. Life on the coast is great, but don't forget,
tropical storms and hurricanes do come with the territory. One quick way to tell is to determine if the houses in the
area are built on stilts....houses are only built on stilts to account for flood waters! Houses on stilts are fine....but
remember you will have to move your car(s) too....where will you put your car?
Use of fill material for home sites:
Some developers try to get around the issue of low land by using fill material. This solution has some
advantages....first of all, they are usually more aesthetically pleasing than stilts. Second, if you use enough fill you
can often make room above the flood plain for your vehicles. Make sure the developer uses enough fill so that it
looks natural vs just a house on a pile of dirt.
Using fill for the entire development:
There are some developers (one in Pamlico County) who have used fill material to elevate the entire
development....sometimes hundreds of acres. This is a huge expense, but a solution to low land that has great
advantages over building on stilts or using mounds of fill for just the house site. With a good eye, the use of fill
material provides a nice opportunity for design of the "lay of the land."
There is one big disadvantage that is often overlooked: the access roads to the development are often within the
flood plane and subject to flooding. So in a flood you can't get out of the development (or to it)....unless you have
a helicopter or go by boat.
Do any "locals" live in the area?"
Good ground will have been recognized over the years and have attracted local residents. New developments
often use undesirable land because it is much less expensive for the developer to acquire.
If you see a property or development that has some existing property owners who are "local" to the area, that is a
It is kind ridiculous to have to say "make sure the developer has the money to do the development" (sort of like
saying be sure the waterfront land you are buying is ABOVE the water, not UNDER it).....but it does happen that
developers go under leaving buyers stranded with the development unfinished. In a March 2008 edition of the
Pamlico News was a story about a couple who were stranded by a developer not installing some basic things like
roads. Yes, the county has bonding requirements that are supposed to protect buyers, but somehow these didn't
work in this instance (the full story is yet to be determined).
Practically speaking, a developer with a good track record is a good sign. A few questions to the sales agent and
to a local attorney can often give you a good feel for the stability of the developer. Also "google" the company
name and individual names of the developers. Don't hesitate to ask for references too.
One more caution: if your developer is a partnership, look for signs they are not squabbling....if they are you might
be the one who gets caught in a crossfire of sorts (it looks like this was a factor in the Pamlico News story
Water, Sewer and Septic Issues:
You can usually rely on the local planning, permitting and bonding to protect you. However, there are situations
where buyers can get hurt. It is the most straightforward if you will have your own well and septic system (as we
have at Baird Creek Point). After your initial installation costs, you have no ongoing fees to pay no matter how
much water you use (other than modest electricity for pump operation). In addition, your property will come with a
Ask if your septic system will require any special considerations. These can include minor and low cost items like a
connector to an off site field or more expensive items like specialized mound systems. If so, it can't hurt to ask if
the developer will give you a price reduction to cover these costs.
If your development is served by county water and sewer you may have some additional complications in Pamlico
County. The Bay River Sewer Commission has recently been embroiled in controversy with allegations of
improper use of grant funds and special "deals" with certain developments. Audits and investigations are under
way to see if the allegations are true. The director has resigned: while this certainly doesn't prove things were
awry, but it does increase unease about what will be discovered. It might be anticipated that any impact of these
issues will fall to the developers and not have an impact on buyers. However, if you are considering a Pamlico
County development served by the Bay River Sewer Commission make sure to ask your sales agent and your
attorney for information and counsel.