Some of the things that come with waiting to build on our vacant land include dealing with insurance and how to protect ourselves from this sue-happy world. God forbid someone takes it upon themselves to explore our property, trips and gets hurt - everything we have ever worked for could be taken away in an instant.
With that said, our builder suggested two things: 1. blocking access to the driveway with a wire cable and "no trespassing" signs and 2. looking into liability insurance while it sits vacant. Easy enough.
I immediately contacted my insurance agent to get that started while we waited for the opportunity to purchase the materials for the driveway. She speculated that we could cover the vacant land under renter's insurance, but had to do a bit of research and gather a few quotes from varies companies to confirm.
In the meantime, we found ourselves at Home Depot that weekend to get what we needed. The materials were as followed:
- 50ft of galvanized vinyl-coated wire rope at 1/4" wide. The instructions from our builder were "50ft wire cable," so imagine my confusion as I researched Home Depot's website to find 5,000 different types/sizes of wire rope (many made for dog runs) before finally giving up and deciding this was a man's job. Jay talked briefly with his grandfather and confirmed that what we picked out would work as intended.
- 2 Eye bolts. Once again their selection was out of control, but thankfully Jay knew what he was doing. These were screwed into each tree to attach the wire and lock to.
- 4 Cable clamps at 1/4". Once you made a loop with the wire, these would fasten it together. You're supposed to use two on each end, but it was 40 degrees out and Jay was in shorts and short sleeves, so we settled for one.
- 1 really expensive combination master lock. This was put onto the loop on one of the ends and fastened into the eye bolt, allowing people with the combination to remove the wire fencing as needed to get into the driveway.
- 1 "Private Property" sign so people cannot claim ignorance to our attempt at keeping people off our property.
- 1 PVC pipe of any size or length because people can ALSO sue us if they drive their car, bike or themselves into our cable fencing, claiming the wire wasn't visible enough as they did whatever the hell they wanted on land that didn't belong to them.
- 1 can of orange spray paint. See above.
After everything was purchased, it cost about $70 total. Not bad for peace of mind and a gazillion dollars of protection.
The next day was installation day, but not until Jay got back from the gym at pitch-black-o'clock. This was upsetting to me not because it was 40 degrees out and we needed our headlights to see, but because taking photographs to document our house-building journey was less than ideal in such conditions. Ever try taking photos of a moving subject with zero light? Yeah it sucks. I apologize for what you're about to see - viewer discretion is advised.
Aside from the crooked sign, the overall completed project wasn't bad considering the above-mentioned factors and scaring the shit out of one of our new neighbors. There's no better time to introduce yourself than when you're spray painting a PVC pipe on vacant property in complete darkness!
Today, just a few days after our wire fencing adventure, we get a response back from my insurance agent.
Vacant land is automatically included in a renters or homeowners policy at no charge, but the insurance companies are very specific about what’s considered vacant land. What I’m getting from all of my companies is that if it has a sign posted anywhere within the area, it’s not vacant. The companies want the land to be in its “organic” state to be considered vacant, so any man-made item, no matter how small, nullifies the organic state.
So…the only way to cover it on the renters policy would be if there is no signage.
I honestly haven't stopped laughing since receiving this email. I replied, asking that if we took down everything we just put up, would it solve the issue? She told me that legally, she isn't allowed to tell me that, but that because we also have a man-made driveway, that, too, might void the "must be organic" (whatever the fuck that means) stipulation.
Our only other option is a $550/yr liability policy, that we must pay all at once, which covers a certain dollar amount of protection. However, it's possible that our signs/wire fencing would get us denied for this kind of protection as well. Guess we'll find out what our next steps are soon.
First lesson learned: insurance is a little bitch.