We are in the midst of farm shopping and have found two suitable properties. I just can't decide which one I like better! Both have there pros and cons. Help me decide which to put an offer on. The farm would hopefully be our home for a LONG time. We are not looking for a "transition" property. It's just me and my SO (who is Mr. Build-it/Fix-it), my 6 horses (1 dressage horse and an assortment of babies and broodies). We have no kids and no plan to have kids. We would possibly like to take on a few boarders in the future. I work a full time job in town. Hubby is a self-employed contracter/handy-man.
Farm 1-Is at the very top of my price range. 25 minutes to work. 45 pretty flat acres but only 15 is cleared. Everything on the property was built in 2005. There is a cover-all barn with 4 stalls, tons of storage for hay, farm implements, tractor etc. there is definitely room to put more stalls in there. There is no riding ring at all (indoor or outdoor). There are 5 fenced paddock (approximately 1 acre each) and two small hay fields. No shelters in the field. The fencing is a bit of a mish mash of types, but all in good repair. The house is lovely 3 bed/2.5 bath. Lower end finishings, but wonderful layout, nice hardwood floors. Everything on this property is tidy, new and immaculately cared for. There is a barn with an indoor just down the road that i could hack to. My concern is that we would have to clear more of the land in the future and also we would have to build a outdoor riding ring. At this price point, it would be a long time before I could afford to build an indoor, if ever. This is a new listing, so I suspect there is not a lot of wiggle room.
Farm 2-is about $100,000 less than farm 1. 98 acres, all cleared and in hay/pasture. The land is quite sloped, so could pose some challenges to building in the future. TONS of fenced turnout area. All fencing is newish and in good shape with excellent shelters in each paddock/field. There is a newish 60x120 coverall riding ring with good footing. There is no outdoor ring. The barn is an old wood barn that has been converted for horses. there are 4 very nice stalls in there, but it is quite dark and not really much room to build more stalls without building a whole other barn. There is basically NO storage for hay or farm implements (owners are putting it in the indoor now). just a small lean-to for a tractor. The house is quite small (1000 sq feet) 2 bed /1 bath and built in the 40s. House definitely needs work. The kitchen has been renoed, but the bathroom is awful (hubby could reno it in a couple of weeks). 35 minutes to work. My concern is that there is no hay storage or outdoor ring and i think any sort of building will require a lot of excavation due to the sloping land. However, it sure would be nice to have an indoor ring to use right away! Also, I like that there is tons of land, all cleared and in hay/pasture. Also, the house is really small and I don't think I would like sharing a bathroom with my hubby. This property may actually be bigger than we want/need. The property has been on the market for quite a while, so I suspect they may be open to offers.
Have you done a cost analysis to see which would cost less in the end to make it into the property you want (including the price you pay for the property itself)? As you said both have their pros and cons. The data analyst in me would calculate how much land clearing, building, renovations etc. would cost at each place- it could end up making the choice obvious, unless it would end up being roughly the same in which case go with the one that has the most of what you need NOW.
From the information you gave, the second one to me sounds more appealing. At $100k less, that is going to free up a lot of money to do the renovations and building that you would need, plus it already has the indoor which is $$$. The sloping land might also be good for drainage.
I think the coverall indoor on Property 2 is worth about $150, 000. It's probably the nicest coverall ring I've ever seen, with attractive steel siding on the exterior. It just needs lights, kickboards, and mirrors (which is $$$). That said, it's not really what I would build if I was building myself. If I was building myself, I would build the ring bigger and do a wood indoor.
I think that Property #2 is definitely more bang for my buck, but Property #1 has more potential to become my "dream". Property 1 has a more classy, welcoming feel, the sort of place you look forward to coming home to every day. Nice winding driveway and all that. Property 2 is definitely a working farm. Very functional and workman like, but not nearly as charming. That said, it's a LOT more land.
My vote goes to #2
More acreage already cleared & in use plus the indoor and the lower asking price.
Just think of all you could do with an extra $100K
Could your handy DH add skylights and/or eavelights to the existing barn to bring in more light?
Could you reconfigure the 4 stalls to make the barn more Euro-style open housing for your horses?
Keep a stall or two for when needed (foaling stall, sick horse stall) and the rest one large area with tie stalls/mangers.
My horses come in just to be fed, otherwise they are out 24/7/365.
I'm just brainstorming here.
If he can rehab the existing bath that quickly how hard would it be to add a 2nd bath too?
Adding rooms to the smaller house could be a cheaper way of getting the space you want designed the way you want it too.
Good Luck & Happy Farm Buying
*friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon: Steppin' Out 1988-2004 Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015
Clearing land and establishing pasture is very, very expensive and time consuming.
I too would go with #2 and if that is too much land for you now, rent part of the pasture to graze or to hay to some local farmer and keep just what you need for your current use at first.
Remodeling a small house by adding what you want seems a great idea.
That is all not really knowing what the land and areas looks like in person, that may change who you pick quickly.
I think some very convincing arguments have been made for Farm 2. I really like the suggestion someone made of building a new barn and then using the old barn for hay/shavings storage. I believe hubby is also more inclined to work on the property himself and have things the way he wants, than get a "ready to move in" house. That said, when he's done renos on our past house, it was a source of MAJOR conflict between the two of us (he moves a bit slowly and has a habit of leaving jobs half finished and moving onto something else. DRIVES ME MENTAL!!!). I'm not sure if I want to go through that again.
We're going back next week to take a second look, so will update then!
I would go with #2. Live in the older house, and don’t do anything but repaint (if it needs it) and replace the outlets covers (cheap with contractor packs and really dresses up a place), and build what you want to live in. Then after you move to the real house DH can take his time fixing up the older house to rent out, or use for worker or MIL housing. Because you won’t redo the older house for a long time you can really shop for end-of-season bargains so you can really save on redoing it.
The second place would give you money to do a new barn (maybe a kit?) or do an extended carport type roof attached to the old barn for storage for equipment. If you need to you can do the long sides of it too, but leave the end open. You might be able to get the tree buyers to take down a lot of the trees, if they are what they want for logging. That’s a very popular land clearing options here, and can be profitable for clearing out trees.
Well hubby and I did a drive by of both properties tonight. I think we are both leaning strongly in the favor of Farm 2. The land is not nearly as steeply sloped as I though and I can visualize where the storage building and outdoor would go. The property also has a second road frontage, so we are talking about eventually severing off the back 25 acres and eventually building the dream house there. The zoning does not allow two houses on one property, so there is no way of building a second house unless we sever. In the meantime, we could fix the original home up. Hubby is fairly confident he can finish the basement area into a 3 bedroom/2 bathroom and maybe even a little gym area.
There is one more interesting looking property that's come onto the market with a brand new 7 stall barn. We're checking that one out this weekend and hopefully we'll make on offer on something soon!
My feeling is that you should buy as much land as you can. There has to be enough of it cleared to work for your needs. If you have to start clearing land for pasture -- best move on.
If you have skills for building things, sweat equity is going to be your best value. Mr. IF and I bought the farm because of the land. House was older, but is fine. We put in all the fencing, the barn, the ring, the run-ins, etc. It wasn't a big deal. We had no need to a turnkey operation and therefore, could save a good bit of money building things the way we wanted them.
That said, when he's done renos on our past house, it was a source of MAJOR conflict between the two of us (he moves a bit slowly and has a habit of leaving jobs half finished and moving onto something else. DRIVES ME MENTAL!!!). I'm not sure if I want to go through that again.
I am pretty sure you didnt mary my DH but they are brothers
DH & I have reno our last 2 houses. Finished basement in 1 and redone almost all rooms in this house. Makes for some fights but its done our way-hes very type A.
You have $ he has skills and tools to do anything you want to build. Farm 2 is my choice. Good luck.
“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker
Maybe you could get a waiver to live in the old house temporarily, while you build the real house. You're the only ones who can decide if the old house is worth redoing to your taste. If the old house is something you will like after you fix it up, then it could be the right place. I guess this Sunday will tell, and this time of year a lot of properties are coming on the market, so keep checking constantly to see if there are new ones.
Some really fantastic advice given here, thanks everyone!
We saw another property this morning that looked really promising on the listing, but it's a total no go. The barn and horse were nice, but there was only maybe an acre or two of real pasture. The rest was all treed or wetlands that is protected by the local conservation authority. Definintely not a suitable property.
We are going for "second lookses" at both Farm 1 and 2 next weekend but am heavily leaning towards Farm 2. Did a little bit of research on it probably won't be possible to sever Farm 2, due to zoning issues, but definitely a posssibility to renovate the existing house to suit our needs better and maybe even build an addition down the road. I can't wait until next week to see it again! I just hope noone else buys it in the meantime.