Home Buying in Healdsburg>Question Details

Mark, Home Buyer in San Francisco, CA

I've been thinking about buying land and having a house built on it.

Asked by Mark, San Francisco, CA Mon Jun 21, 2010

I'm interested in potentially constructing a prefab house in Geyserville or Healdsburg, but could use some advice on which city department to consult on this preliminary info. I am planning to use a real estate agent but would like to get some basics down so I don't waste anyone's time. Also,can anyone define what a "vested mound" means, exactly?

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Expecially these days, it pays to consider your total cost of development (including pain and suffering!) vs what you can buy at a great discount already on the market. For example, take a look at 15904 healdsburg ave, .8ac with all utilities already there, and asking $199k. In this case, just remove the existing mobile home, and put up your new prefab (modular) or manufactured home. No muss no fuss over septic, well, or electricity - just use them.. As you've possibly discovered from the other answers, development is not for the inexperienced or faint of heart, and can be full of surprises. Not knowing something that you should have known can really hurt you financially. I highly recommend you at least check out the market first to see what is currently available in your price range. These days, many properties are selling for less per square foot than what it would cost to build. cj
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 21, 2010
I am assuming you are talking about buying acreage and building a country house, in which case you would most likely fall under Sonoma County jurisdiction for planning purposes, and building in unincorporated Healdsburg or Geyserville. Information on anything related to land use, planning, zoning, well and septic in Sonoma County would be found at http://www.sonoma-county.org/prmd/.

In addition to researching specific parcels of interest, you can learn about septic and well requirements and building permit costs. Many people want to do what you are doing, and many find after investigation that it makes sense in some cases to buy land with an existing home and remodel or expand. The issues related to well and septic and building are complex and dependant on zoning, water zone classifications, terrain and soil and lot size, among other things. There are several good consultants who work with property owners to help to guide them through the process. It is also important to work with agents who are knowledgeable about country property so they can help you to focus in on the most appropriate properties for your needs.

Vested mound means that the property you are looking at may have a vested septic permit based upon perc and design work that would enable an above grade system to be built. The permit has an expiration date which can be renewed in some cases. In general, building requirements will only become more strict with time and all the regulations are subject to change as well as varying degrees of interpretation.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 21, 2010
If you are considering purchasing land in Healdsburg or Geyserville, I am assuming that land will be outside the city limits, and will come under the juridiction of PRMD. Here is the link. Almost everything with regards to building can be answered here. http://www.sonoma-county.org/prmd/
You can get the history of the parcel you are interested in with regard to permits, zoning, etc. and a good deal of that is now online. One caveat, is that when you speak to people at PRMD, you may get several different answers. Ask to have the code, and get your answers in writing, if possible. When purchasing land, one of the first things to check is availability of water ( is it a water scarce area, is there boron or arsenic in the surrounding area wells?) and whether or not the property will perk for a septic system. A property that has had a successful perk test, will receive a designation as to what kind of system can be put on your site, and how many bedrooms it will accommodate. Unlike in other areas, Sonoma County designates the number of bedrooms, not bathrooms, that one can build. Vesting is the process of having this approval. A mound system is appropriate when the land itself doesn't perk. A berm is built and that is where the leach lines are housed. So, a vested mound is an approved septic sytem plan. There is a time frame for vesting, and if a property is not developed within that time frame, the buider must start the process all over again.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 21, 2010
Give both city planning commissions a call and they can help out in providing prelim research.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 28, 2015
Hi Mark,

Just happened to be perusing Trulia this morning- and noticed your question. I'm a Sonoma County Land Use Planner (I work for the County) and answer these questions all day long :-)

My advice to you is to find an agent you feel comfortable with to help you locate properties that seem to suit your needs. Then, call or come down to the County PRMD (Permit & Resource Management Dept.) in Santa Rosa- Monday through Thursday from 8:00 am. to 4:00 p.m.- and ask all your questions. You can also call to get information about properties you are interested in-> (707) 565-1900.

A Mound system is an above-ground septic system. 'Vested' means that the septic system design has been approved for the property- and the approval good for (aka 'Vested') for 3 years from the date of approval. You will want to make sure the 'Vesting' isn't near the end of its 3 years- or, you will probably want to see if it can be re-vested.

Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 28, 2015
Hi Mark, my specialty is working with clients that want to purchase land and build a modular home. I have a company that is a design and build firm with relationships with all the major prefab/modular factories and companies in California. There is a lovely property that we have listed in Healdsburg that would be ideal for a new modular- would love to show it to you. FYI Modulars are built to the very same building code as a "stick built/ field built" home. Therefore they cannot be turned down by any municipality. The site plan and foundation are inspected and permitted just as a field built home. After that however, the majority of the permitting is done by the state of CA at the factory.
A huge difference in modulars is the time from once the permits are pulled to the home being completed. The home is complete when it is delivered, electricity, plumbing, fixtures, cabinetry et al. It is hooked up to sewer, water etc. and you are ready to go. We have completed homes in 90 days after the permits are pulled.
If you prefer a more rural property, you have to possibly factor in a well and septic system which is an additional step and cost in the process. One note on a comment that was made in another agent's answer- if there is an existing septic system at a home site, you would have to replace it- unless it is brand new. If it is a septic that went with an older home that is still on the property or one that was torn down, you will need a new septic system designed for today's building codes. So you can't just hook up to an existing septic unless it was just done in preparation for selling the land.
At any rate, these are high quality luxury homes that are completed quickly and efficiently. That can't be said for every modular home provider, but for the firms that I work with and my team, that is a true statement. I look forward to hearing from you! Dianne
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 7, 2013
Hi Mark,
I have a property listed at 1023 Redtail Road in Healdsburg that would be a perfect choice for what you are thinking about doing. http://www.redtailroad.com
The Sonoma County PRMD is the place to start.
http://www.sonoma-county.org/prmd/ this is a great site.
Let me know if you need any other help.
Web Reference: http://www.retailroad.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 2, 2010
Great answers here--I just wanted to piggy back on Dave's comments about the city of Healdsburg--you had mentioned buying a prefab house and there are some really interesting designs out there that are very innovative. But I am not sure (I don't know for certain) if they would be allowed in a conventional in town setting, which is why I steered in the direction of country property. Good luck to you!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 21, 2010
Realtor who was a Gen. Contractor Here

Good luck!

Craig Bassignani
(707) 974-8970
lic 01428827
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 21, 2010
Penelope and Pam both had excellent answers for the unincorporated parts of Healdsburg and Geyserville If you are planning on building inside the Healdsburg city limits you will be working with the Healdsburg Planning and Building Department: http://www.ci.healdsburg.ca.us/index.aspx?page=156

From a real estate perspective, lots in the city of Healdsburg are selling at very low prices. In fact, they're selling beneath replacement value, so when these lots (most are bank owned) are sold, there aren't any other lots in the pipeline.

If you are inside the Healdsburg city limits your lot is probably served by public sewer, so the question about a vested mound goes away. The other thing anyone thinking of building in Healdsburg needs to be aware of is the growth management plan which controls the number of new homes that can be built each year. It's a very important question to ask early in your lot searching process.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 21, 2010
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