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Looking at land for future farmette ... tell me about your dealbreakers

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  • Looking at land for future farmette ... tell me about your dealbreakers

    I didn't think we were going to go the farmette route, but a decent house on 10 acres has popped up in our price range and in a good location. We haven't yet been on the property, but we've driven by it and looked at GIS maps.

    Approximately 6.5 acres are currently in use as a working hayfield, but I don't know what it's seeded with or how well maintained it is (or who does the maintaining, as it doesn't appear that the homeowners do). The satellite picture shows it yielding about 20 roundbales, lol.

    The property is ... interesting. It's the sort of place that would keep you busy with projects for the next 20 years. There's a house (only a few years old but needing a few improvements ... the bathrooms appear to be carpeted ), a decent-sized wired workshop, and what looks like a small run-in shed that's being used to store the lawnmower, etc. The gravel driveway loops in front of the house and the little run-in is in the center of the loop, right in front of the house.

    The lot's on high ground with gentle hills, and there's about 1.5 acres of woods, mostly hardwoods behind the house. Part of the property is fenced, but it's mainly around the house; there does appear to be a fence on the property line that forms the side of the neighbor's pasture. If we worked around the current fencing, which appears to be in good shape, there's room for a third-acre-ish paddock (could also be part of the main pasture) and a quarter-acre sacrifice area that would also encompass the most suitable barn site. At most, I'd be keeping two horses and a mini here.

    So what big issues do I need to keep in mind when I view this property? I'm starting a list of things, but I admit I haven't done much research on farmettes because I didn't think DH was up for that.

    And especially, what are dealbreakers for you when you look at a property with the goal of making it into a farmette? I've got a few horse-owning friends I can probably bring along for a look, but the more insight the better.

    Thanks.
    Full-time bargain hunter.

  • #2
    I'm going to guess that the shed in the center of the driveway loop is covering the well head.

    Look at elevation and how water moves across the property. When we looked at this place the first thing I saw was a nice clear pasture out front. Then I walked it and... squish. It's only going to be useful about half the year. (That didn't stop me from fencing it, it's _still_ the only clear area on the 20 acres!)

    Look for utility lines and find out if there are any easements to access them. I have a line running across a nice high spot over to the neighbor's utility pole. I have to provide access to the power company 30' on either side of the line.

    Find out if there is anything (gas lines?) running underground, as well as where the power and phone lines run. These will affect where you can dig holes for fences and structures.
    --
    Wendy
    ... and Patrick

    Comment


    • #3
      Dealbreakers?

      Wet.
      Potential zoning/ordinance problems with horses.
      Awful soil (clay, in particular).
      Awful neighbors.

      I'm assuming there's already a good well, septic, utilities and decent main-road access since it's a developed property. But lack of any of these on unimproved land would be a potential deal-breaker as well.
      Click here before you buy.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        There are no easements on the property, but there are power lines that cross the neighbor's property diagonally and then cross the gravel road and continue on up the hill. No gas lines underground.

        Everything is clay to some extent around here ... though some of it is workable red clay, and some of it is NASTY gray mucky clay. That's on my list though.

        Bad neighbors ... hell, who knows. The neighbor to the south and the one across the street both have horses, and the listing says horses allowed, so I'm guessing we're good, but of course I will verify that before we make any purchases.

        House is about a quarter-mile up a well-maintained gravel road (need to find out who maintains that). House also has a big finished basement, so yet another reason to visit after a good rain.

        Good call on the well -- that would be an explanation for why they put a shed in front of the house.

        And yes, I'd try my darndest to plan a visit right after a good rain!
        Full-time bargain hunter.

        Comment


        • #5
          Make sure horses are allowed, find out how many are allowed per acre, and check setbacks on buildings if you are planning to build near property lines.

          In addition to visiting after a good rain, you might inquire about the local water table and how far down it is. (County extension or the local well driller should know)
          Click here before you buy.

          Comment


          • #6
            Since I have no idea where the three-legged-llama lives, I don't know what part of the country you are talking about However, in my area, water is a HUGE issue. There is a moratorium on new wells here, so if your well dries up, you are basically screwed. Some farms actually have to truck in water for their livestock. OThers have terrible sulphury water. Others don't have water rights, and I didn't even know what that was when I lived back east, but it's important here! While the farm I rented in the same area before purchasing my farm had a good well, the one I bought has city water, and since the property was basically vacant for 10 years before we moved in, I had no idea what my water bills would be like...would you believe, about $500/month? It's a huge expense I hadn't counted on when I moved in.

            Also find out about building/zoning restrictions if you plan to build a barn. Around here, a "permanent" structure requires serious permitting (read $$$$) while prefab buildings like Morton are considered "portable" and don't require the same permits. Look into neighborhood, city, or county regulations re: building as well - I have a friend down the road in a neighborhood which forbids metal roofs for some odd reason, and she spent a fortune putting shingles on her barn, which was a big unplanned expense.
            Ristra Ranch Equestrian Jewelry

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              HAHA! The property is in north central North Carolina. But we do currently live just down the road from a three-legged—well, three-footed, to be accurate—llama. She gets around quite well, all things considered.

              I've not heard of water being a problem in this area, but we did have a bad drought a few years back, which crisped everyone's pastures and made getting decent hay very tricky. I imagine I'll be picking my trainer's brain about land issues in this area, as she's about 15 minutes from this property.

              I think we would be building a barn, but nothing huge. I'm thinking four stalls, 24' by 36'. We may start with a big run-in. I haven't gotten that far yet, lol. I will have to consider hay storage as well.
              Full-time bargain hunter.

              Comment


              • #8
                What did *I* look for. Number one was easements of all shapes and sizes. I looked at one big place with a friend and the neighbor's driveway cut across one corner, the corner that ran alongside the river, and it was obvious that the locals came down and party hearty'd using the easement to get to that river - I couldn't afford the place anyway but that situation made it hurt less to walk away.

                Number two was the lay of the land, I wanted to be far enough away from the road and not at an outside corner, didn't want any late night visits by speeding cars, didn't want to own the Lover's Lane, stuff like that. Wanted a water feature such as a pond or stream but didn't want every hard rain to keep me up all night checking water levels. Checked out all the drainages.

                Definitely wanted a nice modern septic system, this place came with a lagoon system and they are right out there happily evaporating where you can see the water level and should never have a sudden unforeseen repair. I should perhaps have skipped this place based on the rocks so close to the surface. I did check the soil maps and they all said this area has Eden loam and it is 30 inches deep, well, they lied. If my back could take it we could have a whole house and barn built out of native stone, plus some left over for the rock walls and patio. We'll have to dynamite for the basement of course.
                Horrible neighbors were on the list definitely. Ran the gamut from multiple dead cars and trash in the yard to manicured mcmansion, didn't want to put up with one or have to keep clean for the other.

                Niceties were DSL and cell phone service at the house, county water, trash service to the head of the driveway. I looked at one place near to here and they had no cell reception - fine, neither did my old house, but combined with the price and condition this place was more suited to our lifestyle, no reception was a mark against the other.
                Some stuff looks good on paper, like the perimeter fence on the neighbor side and the run in, but then you look hard and the fence is barbed wire and the run in would make a great equipment shed but not so much for an animal shelter.

                Happy shopping, I love my farmette!
                Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                Incredible Invisible

                Comment


                • #9
                  ReSomething is right on the money. Believe me if you have to run your own utilities (such as phone, cable or electric lines, or other utility hookups) you are looking at very sizeable expenses sometimes. What is the heat and cooling source? I personally couldn't live with propane (I'm a big chicken about somethings) but many people are fine with that. And do you have good sources of city/county water or is there a well and you will have to run water lines to hookup to the public utilities? If there's is a well then are you required to drill a deep well if the current one is more shallow? Are there zoning/wetland set asides? Are there landscaping requirements? Is the road public maintenance or private? Is the land agricultural zoning all around where you are? Or is there a planned subdivision over the back fence? Are you going to have the infrastructure (cable, internet, phone, cell coverage) to live the way you want to? Or will you end up like me with very few good options for some of those things? Where I live I have Directv, because the only cable provider is an political insider, family owned sucky cable operation-the 'cable modem' is horrible, and the cable tv is awful-so I have Directv and a Hughesnet dish in the back yard.

                  You can vet your future neighbors by asking the local cops about the area, and by driving by and meeting the neighbors. If any remind you of a potential client for Dog the Bounty Hunter keep on driving, and look for other properties. You may be able to look at the county real estate assessor's online listings to see if the owners of property are the same address as the property, or if they are absentee landowners, since you never know who they might rent to in the future and how much they value the rent check today over their property value for later.

                  Especially important is the meet the neighbors procedure as illustrated by CatonLap and 5 Horses. Of course nothing prevents people from renting out or selling in the future, but a little research is a good thing. I really think that if I ever move again (I moved into a brand new subdivision, and didn't actually have neighbors when I moved in, but I also didn't have many choices either) that I will definitely spend an afternoon meeting people on the street near places I'm interested in, and asking them if they would move there again. People are usually pretty honest about keeping other people from making a mistake on housing.
                  Last edited by JanM; Oct. 23, 2010, 05:48 PM.
                  You can't fix stupid-Ron White

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    aside what has been mentioned, soils, wetlands, topography, utilities, other things to consider are the neighbors.

                    I have lived on my property for 20 years. I built it. It was an odd shaped property that surrounded a half acre antique cape. The people who lived there were wonderful. then he died, she moved.
                    then someone bought it that thought they could complain to every local, state and federal agency to motiavate me to move. That was a rough two years. Although it has provided me with a network of important contacts.

                    The neighbor realized I wasn't movable, so they sold and bought in a subdivision. Then nice neighbors, until my most recent. I have to say, I never thought anyone could top the polititian(the one who made all the complaint filings), but these folks have. With noise and partying. We aren't talking trailer trash partying, but parties every other weekend outside, complete with stereo system, bonfire, etc. Their kids also jump and scream from 9am-11pm on the trampoline.
                    kids have built a tree fort in my pasture and scared the bejeez out of the horses, and last weekend, was smashing a boulder(large rock) with a shovel, and that certainly scared the horses, but the paintball took the cake.

                    Sooooooo, be very aware that neighbors can change. I am single, and thought it would be nice to have a 'neighbor' for safety. The house is about 250' from me, but I would not buy anything again that was this close to a neighbor. In fact, I now believe in perimeter fence, gates, dogs and guns. And that is imo a sad commentary.

                    When I bought here, my priority was access to trails, considered the closeness to neighbor a bonus. I also am on town water and sewer, another bonus.
                    My soil is not the best...clay, and on some wetland too. That is a negative but when their is a drought, my fields are green.

                    Take other experiences and suggestions and seriously consider them. I know now the neighbor thing is my next priority...it can really make life miserable. And the way society seems to be going, consideration and neighborlyness is going the way of the past.

                    I have property down south, and although made the decision to not move there, I am now reconsidering. Only problem, my property value here may be diminished. Any horse person coming here would hear the neighbors and not bother to even look further. So, although it is not pleasant to live here, one must also think of value too.

                    Soooo, as they say, location, location, location...but that also means, how close are you to neighbors and potential disturbing your enjoyment of your property could that be. I do not enjoy being out with the horses or even working around the farm when the family is home. yet, i am also afraid to leave the home with the horses out in case the teenage son learns a new method of scaring horses.

                    remember, the neighbors there now, might not be the same neighbors in 10, 15 20 years...
                    good luck.
                    save lives...spay/neuter/geld

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Fivehorses, I read your other thread on your heinous neighbors. I'm so sorry.

                      I do agree with you that basic respect and consideration for other people is becoming more rare. We're dealing with it now; we live in a subdivision with fairly large lots, but depending on where the house is sited on the lot, they can be rather close ... say 30' apart? That's about the distance from our one neighbor who got a dog a few months ago. Our master bedroom is closest to their backyard, where this dog lives (and barks) 24/7. I feel sorry for the dog (no socialization, no interaction with people or other dogs), but I am getting increasingly angry with the neighbors, who don't seem to care.

                      I did find out last night that the owner of the home is also the listing agent.
                      Full-time bargain hunter.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        1. Water/drainage. I wanted the house and barn to be at the top of a hill with slope away from them.

                        2. No standing water if possible. Mosquitoes! Didn't get this one, and the neighbor farms have irrigation ditches.

                        3. Breeze should go from house toward barn. This keeps the smell and flies away from your living space.

                        4. A place to put in an arena if there isn't one already, with minimum bulldozing required.

                        5. As much cleared as possible. It is expensive and WORK to clear land.

                        6. Situated away from neighbors/privately. I don't care to see what my neighbors are doing, and vice versa. My farm is ringed by a tree line that I happily fenced out of my fields. The loss of the land was small potatoes compared to the privacy. Love that about my place!

                        7. Consider the rock situation. My farm is pretty rocky. Every night when the horses are eating, I pick up a bucket of rocks. It is getting better, but I have a lot of rocks to go.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          can't add to the cautions, but a cautionary tale:

                          the field in front of my house, which is about 40 feet lower in elevation than mine, sold in June as a building lot. We had an exceptionally dry winter and spring this year, so the land was great looking, despite being the floodplain of a local salmonid bearing stream, which forms one boundary for the field. Usually, in the winter, the land is so water logged down there that even sheep sink up to their knees.

                          The lot sold at full price+ in less than 24 hours after listing. The folks who bought hardly had time to look at it, land is at such a premium here.

                          Since then, they've discovered:
                          -no water service to the land, they can't hook up to ours as our pipes are not even large enough to carry all our needs, we are grandfathered in and no new connections to the municipal water service are allowed without a $15,000 eco study and about another $15,000 to have the city run the connection.
                          -good thing, they only had to dig a well 160 feet down to get good water flow. Bad thing, the water smells strongly of sulfur.
                          -no electric service to the property- about a $5,000 bill to run the service in.
                          -no road access to the property. Chalk up another $10K to put down a driveway from the nearest road to the house site.
                          -no sewar to the property and THE LAND WON'T PERK. They are looking at a $30,000 sewage treatment plant, not sure if it will work.
                          - city won't approve the building site as we have photographs of the last moderate flood year with the entire field under water. They are trying to get approval to build the structure on concrete pilings- another big expense. So the boards and gravel for the concrete foundations of the proposed buildings were delivered in late June after the drive was put in and teh electrics were run, the well was dug and capped in late June and NOTHING has been done since. I expect they will eventually get the necessary approvals, but if they had simply talked to the neighbours (us and the guy next door) they would have known all this before they plopped down more than a third of a million dollars for an acre of marshland. The guy next door to them has the same problems. He's owned the lot for 10 years and still hasn't built as the city will only allow 3 truckloads of fill to be dumped per year, and so far he's brought in 30 truckloads and can't build until his site has about 50 truckloads down. The last time the land flooded about 5 years ago, his building site, even with the added fill, was a foot under running water.

                          So talk to the neighbours.
                          "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Like 5horses said, neighbors can change...and to add to that, neighbors don't have to look like something out of Deliverance to be terrible - that neat and tidy property next door may house folks who don't want horse smell/manure/your horse trailer/whatever next to them, and they will make your life just as miserable as a redneck who loves to party. I've been very lucky with my current property, but have had some minor issues with the citified neighborhood association bordering me, as have my neighbors.
                            Ristra Ranch Equestrian Jewelry

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              OH yeah, we have two other new neighbours, both with small children. They are both nice families. But we are a group of adults, including a lot of rock n roll professional musicians as friends and co-workers and have built a music studio into our house. Now, its a good thing the nearest houses are at least 200 feet from ours, because at that distance the music is no louder than having your own radio going. As in, you can hear it, but you can easily hold a normal conversation over it. Still, both new neighbours have inquired if we could shut it down earlier than 9 PM since their tots are in bed by 7:30.

                              Uh, no.
                              If you'd talked to us before buying, you would have known what you were getting into, and we are the GOOD neighbours around here...Wait till the fall racing seasons starts- the local oval track is just over the hill and it sounds like Mad Maxx on Saturday nights until 10.
                              "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Hazardous materials can be a concern. Toxic stuff can be a major hassle if it gets into your ground water. It's also really expensive if you find yourself on the hook for the environmental cleanup. Some of the more common examples:
                                -Oil dumped after repairs on cars/tractors
                                -Fuel spills from a leaking storage tank
                                -Pesticides & fertilizer which were never disposed of properly
                                -Construction debris piles with asbestos or other nasty stuff
                                -Meth lab residue in buildings (really hard to decontaminate; it's pretty close to being a tear down & rebuild.)

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  The OPs prospective property already has a house so well, electric, all that is already there... What would you consider if all the basics are in place? I know for me I initially thought 12 acres was enough hahahahahaha....
                                  "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                                  ---
                                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Being that we've just been in the same place as you, just send me an email if you want to talk numbers for various stuff, or know which loan agent not to touch with a 100 foot pole!

                                    Everyone pretty much covered the important stuff.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by fivehorses View Post
                                      aside what has been mentioned, soils, wetlands, topography, utilities, other things to consider are the neighbors.

                                      I have lived on my property for 20 years. I built it. It was an odd shaped property that surrounded a half acre antique cape. The people who lived there were wonderful. then he died, she moved.
                                      then someone bought it that thought they could complain to every local, state and federal agency to motiavate me to move. That was a rough two years. Although it has provided me with a network of important contacts.

                                      The neighbor realized I wasn't movable, so they sold and bought in a subdivision. Then nice neighbors, until my most recent. I have to say, I never thought anyone could top the polititian(the one who made all the complaint filings), but these folks have. With noise and partying. We aren't talking trailer trash partying, but parties every other weekend outside, complete with stereo system, bonfire, etc. Their kids also jump and scream from 9am-11pm on the trampoline.
                                      kids have built a tree fort in my pasture and scared the bejeez out of the horses, and last weekend, was smashing a boulder(large rock) with a shovel, and that certainly scared the horses, but the paintball took the cake.

                                      Sooooooo, be very aware that neighbors can change. I am single, and thought it would be nice to have a 'neighbor' for safety. The house is about 250' from me, but I would not buy anything again that was this close to a neighbor. In fact, I now believe in perimeter fence, gates, dogs and guns. And that is imo a sad commentary.

                                      When I bought here, my priority was access to trails, considered the closeness to neighbor a bonus. I also am on town water and sewer, another bonus.
                                      My soil is not the best...clay, and on some wetland too. That is a negative but when their is a drought, my fields are green.

                                      Take other experiences and suggestions and seriously consider them. I know now the neighbor thing is my next priority...it can really make life miserable. And the way society seems to be going, consideration and neighborlyness is going the way of the past.

                                      I have property down south, and although made the decision to not move there, I am now reconsidering. Only problem, my property value here may be diminished. Any horse person coming here would hear the neighbors and not bother to even look further. So, although it is not pleasant to live here, one must also think of value too.

                                      Soooo, as they say, location, location, location...but that also means, how close are you to neighbors and potential disturbing your enjoyment of your property could that be. I do not enjoy being out with the horses or even working around the farm when the family is home. yet, i am also afraid to leave the home with the horses out in case the teenage son learns a new method of scaring horses.

                                      remember, the neighbors there now, might not be the same neighbors in 10, 15 20 years...
                                      good luck.
                                      GEEZ!! Call the cops! I had crappy @ss neighbours, drunken partying morons- I was a single mom at the time- I called the cops a couple of times and that soon put an end to it. I also had VERY LARGE Rott/German Shepherd (pussy cat but you couldn't tell by looking at him) dog who had a very deep loud bark. I felt somewhat protected with him in the house. But man, I couldn't put up with that for a second. There were times that I worried that they would retaliate, but they didn't thank God! Consider a surveliance (sp?) camera for proof if you need to, but please don't just take this kind of treatment. People need to learn respect!

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Agreed, in a couple years, 10 acres may not seem enough.

                                        Fiance and I have already started looking at property and costs for when we transition to a farm in three-five years. He wants cows too, so we're looking at 40+ acres and even that might not be enough. But even so, with our two horses, a house, barn, arena, 10 acres is not really enough, unless you want to feed hay year round. And this is the PNW, which has magical grass.
                                        COTH's official mini-donk enabler

                                        "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl

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