35 Questions to Ask Before Buying Land ?

Are you interested in buying your own piece of earth?  There’s nothing more fabulous than having a few acres of your own, and building your own place from the ground up.   But, buying land, especially in highly regulated areas like California, can be a lot more risky than buying a home.  These days of real estate disclosure for a home buyer have come a long way from the traditional law of “Caveat Emptor” (meaning buyer beware)!  Land, however, does not have the same rules.  I constantly hear stories like:

Ojai Land for slae
“I thought we were buying 80 acres, it turned out we got 65!”

“We had no idea this area was in an ancient landslide.  Its almost impossible to build here.”

“We thought we got an amazing deal, $1m for 120 acres, but it turns out its going to cost another $1m to get to the pad before we can even think of starting the house.”

“We bought a small lot in town and it turns out we can’t get water service so we can’t build!”

Unfortunately there isn’t one place to get answers.  Many local departments are involved and sometimes have conflicting information.

Here are 35 questions you can ask
Or you can get professional help – call me 310 963 7900.

Planning and Zoning

  1. Is it a legal lot? If not, how do I make it legal?
  2. What is the zoning classification of this lot?
  3. Does the Zoning on the property permit my project?
  4. Does the County General Plan permit what I wish to do?
  5. Are any planning permits required prior to building on the lot?
  6. Are there any zoning violations on the lot?
  7. Are there any special building restrictions in this area?
  8. Are there any cultural heritage sites on the property?

Continue reading “35 Questions to Ask Before Buying Land ?”

Shipping Container Homes

Shipping Containers – there’s millions of em – floating around – literally!   It is estimated that thousands of these things are lost at sea every year !

But these relatively cheap, strong, box structures are turning into some pretty cool homes.

Everything from the shack below …

To three story urban homes – this one is in Venice California …

To exotic homes like the “Tea House” in Korea ….

See our newest video all about Container Homes



Show Us Your Projects ! – Bio Diverse Farm – Super Green Building

This amazing project caught my eye !  Just check out the spec’s … containers – green houses – graywater – gardens – solar – Bert calls this the “Bio Diverse Farm” – check it out

Click on photos to enlarge

Send us your projects!


Hi Otis

This Design project might interest you. The main points are:


Southern Gulf Islands, British Columbia

2 acre plot, gentle slope to SE

Winters Wet, Summer very dry limited ground water

Climatic zone 6-8

Continue reading “Show Us Your Projects ! – Bio Diverse Farm – Super Green Building”

In Search of the Ultimate Green Home – Paqtagonia- Ventura Today


THE California Central Coast Chapter of the U.S. GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL

Presents:  Otis Bradley
In Search of the Ultimate Green Home

Custom home builder Otis Bradley of the Otis Bradley Company and 50Green.com will be leading an interactive dialogue about the path to “net-zero” homes at the monthly meeting of the U.S. Green Building Council C4 Chapter on Monday, January 24th at 5:30pm.  This meeting is open to the public and is held in the Patagonia Fire House at 280 W. Main Street, Ventura.  Infusing his inquisitiveness, vast industry knowledge, and a healthy sense of humor, and using the design and construction of his own recently completed home as a jumping off point, Otis will guide the group through an interactive dialogue about the future of homebuilding in our new “Green” reality.  Be prepared for an offbeat and spirited exchange of ideas.

Otis currently owns and operates Otis Bradley Company, Inc., OtisBradley.com, a California Custom Home building business.  Otis also runs webinars about Green construction at 50Green.com, where he blogs regularly about a variety of green topics.

The presentation takes place at the Patagonia Firehouse Building, 280 W. Main Street in downtown Ventura on Monday, January 24th, 2010 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm.   The monthly meetings are free and open to the public.

Our next presentation will be on Monday, February 28th.

For more information, please call (805) 218-2254, or visit the C4 website at usgbcc4.org. 


PS For those of you that can’t make it watch for the replay to be posted here on 50Green.com     

Earthships for the rest of us – How to build a code compliant Earthship

I love Earthships – my wife hates ’em !
I love Earthships – the building department hates ’em!

Ahhh life’s challenges.

My visit to Taos, New Mexico to visit the “Greater World Earthship Community” got me thinking …. this is really cool – off grid – independent community.  Why don’t we have more of this kind of thing going on?   Well it’s not as easy as it looks – for some the idea of building a house out of old tires is just too much!  And – most areas that follow modern building codes will treat you like a Communist in the McCarthy hearings!

So here’s my idea to take the Earthship and modify it into a “user friendly” home that still uses a lot of it’s great attributes but allows the rest of us to hire a contractor – hook up to standard city utilities

Continue reading “Earthships for the rest of us – How to build a code compliant Earthship”

Green Building Safety !

Always a good idea to remember safety on the job site!  This finger belongs to the son of a builder friend of mine in Montana.   Using a powerful – air powered – framing nail gun – his thumb somehow triggered the safety (see blood) and allowed the gun to fire what looks like a 10d common right through the finger!

Luckily – it missed the bone and a Doctor was able to yank the thing out and all is well!

Green Building or Not ! Insurance – good safety practices – clean job sites – all super important on all construction sites – don’t forget