How to find the perfect land for your dream home in the Columbia River Gorge (and avoid common pitfalls!)
We’ve been building and remodeling in the region for over 20 years and have seen how projects can go right and how they can go very wrong. This comprehensive article will help you avoid unforeseen roadblocks that may cost you time, money, and even compromise your vision.
One of the most magical places on earth
The Gorge is one of the most magical places on Earth. It’s the largest National Scenic Area in the country and is home to 80 miles of winding Columbia River, numerous iconic waterfalls, and boundless views. Who wouldn’t want to have a slice of this paradise? Whether you’re building your dream home in this majestic region or cultivating an investment property, when deciding on a piece of land, it’s essential to check all the boxes before you sign the deed and break ground.
Lifestyle considerations for investing in land
What kind of view do you want to wake up to? How far are you willing to drive to the grocery store? How will climate influence the design of your home? Shaping your vision early on and knowing what concessions you’d be willing to make will help you define search parameters and ask the right questions throughout the process.
If you want to live in a rural setting, you can eliminate land that’s within a certain proximity to town. If you want a view, look for land that’s on a hillside or oriented toward a mountain or river. Many real estate databases will even let you dictate some of these factors in your search. Check out our favorite platforms to find land for sale at the end of this post.
How do you want to live?
While finding a piece of land in this idyllic setting and envisioning the perfect home are likely at the forefront of your mind, we recommend taking it a step further. Envision your daily life. What’s important to you now, and what will be in the future? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
The Columbia River Gorge’s beautiful landscape is also home to a range of climates. From dewy rainforest to dusty desert, the land varies dramatically throughout. Find steep hillsides thick with towering firs just a few miles from sprawling pastures with endless views.
As you search for the perfect property, keep in mind how environmental conditions will affect your day-to-day living and, ultimately, the home you build. Visit the property at different times of day and seasons, if possible to ensure, it suits your needs. Here are the top environmental considerations for the Columbia River Gorge area:
- Dry vs. moist
- Oak groves vs. pine and fir forests
- Wind vs. sheltered from wind
- Expansive views vs. territorial views
Aside from selecting the right design and materials for your home, the right conditions will make us feel our best and ensure our basic needs are met.
Practical considerations for investing in land
Many common pitfalls can be avoided by taking time to think through your vision and complete your due diligence before you close on a property. Factors such as zoning, land use, property access are critical components.
Zoning, Land Use, Building Codes, and HOA CC&Rs
Different types of zoning and codes have varying implications on the land development and building process. These factors impact how the property is cleared, how it’s used, the type and size of structure you can build, what kind of permits you need, and may even impact the utilities that are available.
Developing your property
There’s land use, then there’s the land itself. The Columbia River Gorge is, by definition, a canyon surrounded by hills and mountains. It also sits amidst some very diverse and rugged terrain. Finding a property that is well-suited to the vision you have for your home and way of life could save lots of time and money.
Timeline and budget
Start with ballpark estimates for both timeline and budget and refine them as you gather more information. We answer some of the most frequently asked questions:
Hiring your team of professionals
When searching for raw land in the Columbia River Gorge, there are a number of factors to account for and cautions to heed. While there is a lot to think about, don’t be dissuaded from pursuing your dream. With the right team of professionals, you can get answers to your questions and proceed with confidence.
Choosing your builder early on means you have a professional’s insight to foresee incompatibilities between the land and the home you want to build. A good builder can help you find the right property and connect you with other professionals, including designers.
Best websites to find raw land
Once you’ve defined your vision and decided where you want to buy, you’ll be able to more efficiently search for the perfect property. To assist with your hunt, here are a few websites to check out:
Get professional support for your search
It’s not necessary to work with a realtor, but a savvy local agent who’s versed in the type of land you want can be a valuable resource and save you hours of research. Here are a few realty companies who specialize in the Gorge area:
Best way to see the area
This stunning region is best enjoyed from a variety of angles, so don’t feel constrained to merely seeing the Gorge by car. If you’re looking for property close to town, consider renting an e-bike to explore neighborhoods. If you’re looking for raw land that’s more remote, charter a plane to get a birds-eye-view of the area’s awe-inspiring landscape. When your plans include investing in land with substantial acreage, be sure to pack sturdy boots, to traverse every square foot to your heart’s desire.
Get to know the community
As you narrow in on a location for your dream home, there’s no better way to confirm the ideal place than to immerse yourself in the community. Explore, ask questions, and get recommendations for beloved restaurants and coffee shops or favored dry cleaners and pet groomers. To help you get started, here are a few community-driven Facebook pages and local blogs:
Building Resources & Parcel Maps
You now have a better understanding of what is entailed in finding the perfect piece of land. Take the time to really think things through from the outset, and you will set yourself up for success. Buying in this special region deserves considerate thought. The Gorge is where people feel deeply rooted and connected to the extraordinary landscape and lifestyle it affords.