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    Building A Custom Home Series, Part XI: When Do I Move Out?

    Building A Custom Home Series, Part XI: When Do I Move Out?

    If you are thinking about building a custom home, especially if you’re currently living in the house you plan to tear down, it’s important to understand when you will need to be out of the house. This is probably the second most common question I get asked from potential clients.

    For a lot of people, moving into temporary housing seems daunting. Not only are you moving which is never fun but the temporary housing is usually smaller quarters than you’re used to. And if you are staying with friends or family while the house is being built, you also have to deal with living in someone else’s house for several months.

    No matter how you go about it, it’s not easy. I get it. When Paul and I built our home, we didn’t have children yet. We had a dog. Marley was our 1st baby. Paul & I were finishing up our last year at Virginia Tech when we got her as a 6 week old puppy. And she was 10 years old when we moved into our rental while the new house was being built.


    The rental was a tiny townhouse in Falls Church. The location was great because it was a few blocks from the new house but it was tiny (did I say that already?). We knew it was short-term so we dealt with it and tried to keep our eyes on the prize.

    So when should you move out of your house? Well that depends. All counties in Northern Virginia require proof that all utilities in the old house have been disconnected before they will issue the building permits. And you can’t call for the utilities to be disconnected until after you have moved out.

    My advice to people is to move out once you submit your permit application. You can certainly plan to submit for your building permit long before you move out, just understand you won’t be able to get the approved permits until the utility companies disconnect the lines and provide you with a letter stating the lines have been removed.

    What lines need to be disconnected? Water, Sewer, Gas & Power. Washington Gas & Dominion Power will handle disconnecting their lines. You will need to call them to request service to be pulled. The typical turnaround time for the power company is 3-4 weeks. Washington Gas is running 4-12 weeks. You will also need to hire someone to cap off your sewer line. This subcontractor will cap off the line and call for the county to inspect. Fairfax Water will cap off the water line to the house once you make the request. If you are building in Arlington, the water service is removed during the permitting process. If you are building in the Town of Vienna, water service will be removed the same time the sewer line is capped.

    You will need to show proof of the approved sewer cap off inspection along with all of the utility letters in order to get your building permit. Depending on how long it takes the utility companies to complete the disconnection, the county should be close to completing their review and ready to issue the approved permits once the disconnect letters are received.

    That’s the hope anyway. Regardless of when you decide to move out, just remember that it won’t be long before you are sitting in your brand new custom home. All of the moving & cramped quarters will be worth it.

    For Paul, Marley and I, it was.


    Marley passed away in 2011 at the age of 14. Here is a picture of her with our son Nathan a few months before she died. How cute were they?


    Dream Big. Build Smart.

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