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Anyone else bought acreage to build a farm only to run into one roadblock after another?

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  • Anyone else bought acreage to build a farm only to run into one roadblock after another?

    we have finally cleared the hurdles (I THINK!) but I’m wondering if it is just my lack of education on the subject or the difficulty of the county/township we are building in. We purchased 30 acres and hired a barn builder. That was the only easy part. Subsequently, we found out our realtor had been wrong about the zoning and we had to get that changed. Then we needed an environmental-type permit; next we encountered the requirement of “final construction documents” which I had never heard of, on and on. Anyone else have these experiences? I’m just seeking commiseration, I suppose ... and also exposing my greenness on the subject. In short it has been somewhat of a traumatic process and im
    not sure I would do it again.

  • #2
    may not be finished... will you need a certificate of occupancy ?

    For one to rely upon a real estate agent regarding zoning is not wise as you learned. Even asking a zoning authority may be be the end as we were told such and such and they were completely wrong. So, I suggest for others to get it in writing.

    We have been here for thirty plus years and are fighting the city even this day over the wording of the animal count allowed as their ordnance excludes the second acre completely

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    • #3
      Yikes! I did/do my own research..and get it in writing!!!

      I looked at a 9.8 acre property in the BOONIES. I knew 10 acres- you can have as many and WHATEVER animals you wanted!!! My realtor said ehh no problem- get a variance- it's two horses. I looked into it- no way...no how. Very glad I passed on that property...I alao limited how much else I looked at in that town if they were going to act like that.

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      • #4
        Glad things are moving along for you.

        It does sound like most of your problems are from you simply not knowing that there is a process and the rules and mistakenly believing a realtor about what you can and can not do.

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        • #5
          Our county requires that the barn has to be set a certain distance from any roads or property lines. This meant the barn had to be placed in the direct center of the property, in direct sun. While that makes it a short walk from the house, it is in full sun in the Florida heat. We planted a pine tree, so in ten years their will be some shade. I'm thinking of adding shade sails.

          Technically, the rule is one horse per acre, but i don't think it is being enforced.

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          • #6
            Welcome to the Nanny State. Whatever state you might be in!!!

            G.
            Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo

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            • #7
              I lucked out in that my barnbuilder held my hand through the process of getting the variances I'd need to put up my barn w/attached arena.
              I needed two: one for height, one for square footage, both for the indoor arena.
              On our initial meeting to discuss what I wanted, he made me aware of & literally went through the application process with me. Meaning he went with me to the Govt. Center to apply.
              I met with him on the same day the house was inspected, so purchase was not quite finalized.
              If the zoning variances had indicated a problem, I probably would have revised my plans.

              Then I lucked out in having the excavator who already had a contract (through the sellers) to put in a new septic.
              When the excavator recommended by the builder failed to return my call, he stepped in and did the foundation for barn & arena. He also did the footing for the indoor.
              He had no direct horse experience, but took the step of going to a friend who did and brought me a sample bucket of the sand they suggested.
              It was the correct angular sand.
              I had done my homework by getting the USDF handbook on footing.

              When I decided I wanted a second driveway from the barn to the road, he directed me to the Highway & Roads Dept. where I needed to apply.
              When my application was denied, I called him to let him know. Mysteriously, a week later I got a call approving it.
              I don't care how or who he managed that through, but I appreciate that added drive to this day.

              Zoning boards are a different animal.
              Mine was pretty Mayberry at the time, may have changed now.
              But the Govt. Center employees were then and remain now very helpful, giving bureaucrats a bad name.
              *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

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              • Original Poster

                #8
                Has anyone ever heard of these Final Construction Documents (yet that is apparently the official name ... required by our Township and apparently the state)?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by APirateLooksAtForty View Post
                  Has anyone ever heard of these Final Construction Documents (yet that is apparently the official name ... required by our Township and apparently the state)?
                  When we built they wanted stamped construction drawings. That sounds like what they are looking for.
                  Which is typical for any construction project to get a permit.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
                    Welcome to the Nanny State. Whatever state you might be in!!!

                    G.
                    All those rules are there because someone, somewhere, was irresponsible and hurt others.

                    In my county the number one cause of fires has unpermitted electrical work, typically related to cannabis grows. Getting that stuff legalized and inspected is the number one reason I'm happy to have it quasi-legal and want it fully legal.

                    That said, it can be super frustrating. I had to have an expensive engineer consult after building an addition to my house because someone made a sloppy flood map and suddenly there was a claim that my house had lost 20' in elevation.

                    In general, it is common to need plans to have an engineer stamp before you can begin. With prefab or modular buildings though, the plans should come with them.

                    It sounds like you need a general contractor or other local construction expert that you can trust, because these things are fairly normal. It's really helpful to have someone who knows your locality especially and knows what the hot-button issues are locally.

                    As the advice you didn't seek, I'd say don't skimp on the ground prep and the grading. It seems expensive and invisible, but it will dramatically impact how nice your barn is to use year round.

                    Building is a real pain for sure. After we finished our project I avoided going into the hardware store for a year (even though they have cookies). There are so many choices and the stakes are high.
                    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by trubandloki View Post

                      When we built they wanted stamped construction drawings. That sounds like what they are looking for.
                      Which is typical for any construction project to get a permit.
                      stamped with a caveat to the specific site as plotroon noted often plans/drawings are generalize for a board range but must be site specific, the design is stamped as being certificated

                      There was one poster who was building a barn in California using one of the national companies....the engineering drawings did have an engineering/architect stamp but had to an additional stamp certification to the location because of earthquakes.

                      I can attest a set of drawings must or should be site specific as my company did US government work and their plans were often reused from site to site without being site specific (they were intent specific) and the problems were numerous.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        This is all
                        helpful, thanks. We did end up having to engage an engineer (expensive!) but that solved most of our problems. I had been assured by so many (barn builder, ring builder, realtor and even the Town planner) that I wouldn’t need one so it came as shock that I actually did. Ugh. Live and learn and drink a lot of wine.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by APirateLooksAtForty View Post
                          This is all
                          helpful, thanks. We did end up having to engage an engineer (expensive!) but that solved most of our problems. I had been assured by so many (barn builder, ring builder, realtor and even the Town planner) that I wouldn’t need one so it came as shock that I actually did. Ugh. Live and learn and drink a lot of wine.
                          I am surprised any of those people would tell you that an engineer is not required.

                          Someone has to make a design and drawings showing how the building works on the site.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I’ve been through more than one barn building project, in more than one county, and has more than one dealing with CLUELESS realtors.

                            The expense and effort involved in the permitting processes in different counties can be quite stunning. And variable. So many factors. With that said... if you follow all the rules and create something you love that is fully permitted and in a tough county in which to accomplish such a feat... there is value. So try not to lose heart.

                            Try to fully inform yourself of all the costs and limitations in terms of use right now though... before you break ground. Just in case it makes common sense to give up on this property and buy something else in a different county. In certain counties, the permitting requirements and engineering studies, etc etc etc just to build a private small family barn can go on and on and on for years and involve INSANE dollars. And don’t even think of trying to get an arena approved in those locations. Ask me how I know... Primarily though, this applies to densely populated counties, with environmental restrictions.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              As others have said, realtors really have no idea regarding zoning, permits, etc. They will often tell you what you want to hear and what will facilitate a sale. Dealing with county planning and zoning and building services departments can be super frustrating -- I know from experience. Even if you're in a rural area and the land is zoned agricultural you may well need to get a formal building permit, file a Notice of Commencement with the local authorities, have many inspections during the course of the construction, and then get a final Certificate of Occupancy to be officially "done". And -- if you don't have the right permit and start construction they can slap you with a "Stop Work Order" and then you can't do anything until you have all the paperwork and approvals. The best way to handle all this is to hire a licensed contractor with experience in your county. They will then take responsibility for getting all the required permits -- its usually a clause in their contract. Good luck!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                if you don't have the right permit and start construction they can slap you with a "Stop Work Order" and then you can't do anything until you have all the paperwork and approvals.
                                I was issued a Stop Work Order because upon inspection the structure was found to be too close to side property line.

                                When I obtained the building permit I asked for offsets and was Told ten feet so rather than be close I went 15 feet thinking 50% should make it easier to know I was not too close.

                                Wrong. Actual back set from the side property line was 25 feet. ...Stop Work Order, tear it down.

                                So, I had to Apply for a variance of the side set back with no guarantee. the variance would be granted. The board members were less than enthusiastic but did by split vote grant the variance.

                                So... do not just accept a verbal statement from a city, make them issue it in writing.

                                (Now many years later after I jumped through various flaming hoops the set backs were changed to what I was originally told,)

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by trubandloki View Post

                                  I am surprised any of those people would tell you that an engineer is not required.

                                  Someone has to make a design and drawings showing how the building works on the site.
                                  We had an architect.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by clanter View Post

                                    I was issued a Stop Work Order because upon inspection the structure was found to be too close to side property line.

                                    When I obtained the building permit I asked for offsets and was Told ten feet so rather than be close I went 15 feet thinking 50% should make it easier to know I was not too close.

                                    Wrong. Actual back set from the side property line was 25 feet. ...Stop Work Order, tear it down.

                                    So, I had to Apply for a variance of the side set back with no guarantee. the variance would be granted. The board members were less than enthusiastic but did by split vote grant the variance.

                                    So... do not just accept a verbal statement from a city, make them issue it in writing.

                                    (Now many years later after I jumped through various flaming hoops the set backs were changed to what I was originally told,)
                                    And that is where having an approved site plan on file comes in handy. They can see the proposed set-back right there.

                                    Originally posted by APirateLooksAtForty View Post

                                    We had an architect.
                                    Sorry, I should have been more clear. It is OK to hire an architect, who will pay an engineer to make a site plan.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      I’m just glad to hear we are not alone. I talked to the owners of a horse farm about 2 miles down the road and they didn’t have to do any of this ... because they did it 15 years ago before the Town was incorporated. Ugh. Like I said, the engineers have been escorting us through this process, I simply have been astounded though at how complicated it has been!

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Virginia Horse Mom View Post
                                        :. In certain counties, the permitting requirements and engineering studies, etc etc etc just to build a private small family barn can go on and on and on for years and involve INSANE dollars. And don’t even think of trying to get an arena approved in those locations. Ask me how I know... Primarily though, this applies to densely populated counties, with environmental restrictions.
                                        which also may include specific building material commonly used to be prohibited from use

                                        Have a nice metal barn, nope no metal walled building allowed. Want a stucco wall build, nope must match primary structure which must be brick or stone faced Want a pretty lap siding barn, nope can not have wood siding

                                        Metal roof? Nope, must match primary structure which can not have wood or metal roofing.

                                        Then if your are in home owners association on top of a city or county regulations all connection to reality may be lost as THAT color is not approved... and do not think about giving up and live in a tent as Tents are considered temporary structures and not allowed.

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