Any advice for my first inspection?
probably the most important thing you could inspect on site would be topoagraphy and soil type (bring a shovel, dig a 12″ deep hole). Septic system costs will be very dependant upon soil type and drainage. From stream bank, you can look at cut banks (errosion) to get idea for what is below the ground. Clay soil is better for adobe, but bad for leach fields. Earthen architecture is best built using soil with small rocks and little organic matter. Soil with organic matter is better for agriculture.
Solar orientation is somthing you should note when on site. You can do with with google earth, but aerial images do not tell the whole story of how topography and tree lines influence solar exposure at ground.
Also, FYI, the receeding glacier about 10,000 yrs ago left fines and silt deposits in low lying areas. Over time, this has turned into a wonderful pure clay. In the fingerlakes area, this layer of clay (about 18-24″ thick) is about 3-4′ below grade.
Find out about local municipal codes. Often, zoning codes will limit number of residences off a private road to 4 or 5. If you wanted more residences, you would need a dedicated road (asphalt, drainage, etc). A private road costs about $15/lf, a dedicated road about $40. 1500 feet of dedicated road could cost a small fortune if you need to truck in materials from greater than 30 miles away.
Soil analysis… get some samples of soil from various locations (about a coffee can each). These can be send to Cornell Coop Extension for mineral and pollutants testing for a minimal fee.
that’s all I have for now…
Christopher Costanza, RA, AIA, LEED AP