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buy a horse farm or build myself?

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  • buy a horse farm or build myself?

    After having yet another deal fall through on a farm (this is the third one, sigh . . .) I'm thinking of changing my approach. I have been trying to find a farm that is already set up for horses, ie. has at least some sort of a barn and paddocks and maybe an outdoor ring, even if the barn does need work. This approach hasn't really worked out all that well for me. There aren't a lot of places set up for horses. Most of the ones that are set up for horses are pretty scary, dark converted dairy barns with very low ceilings. The ones that are set up with more modern horse facilities seem to be very expensive and sell very quickly. I am considering now just buying a house on some cleared land and building the horse facilities myself. Has anyone on the board done this? Would you recommend building or buying something that is already built? I think in the end it will be more expensive to build, but at least then I'll get exactly what I want. Hubby used to be a contracter, so he can do some of the labour himself.

  • #2
    we had a 100 acre property already - but built everything new - I think it is easier than trying to fix up someone else's mess and you get what you want.


    • #3
      It is much more expensive to retrofit someone else's "dream" than to build your own.

      I vote for buying acreage with a house you can live in while building the barn, and if you don't like the house all that much, build a house or apt attached or over the barn. I built a 1,728 sf house over my barn. I moved into it when it was done, and then rented out the orignial (OLD!) 2 br/1 bath house.

      Loved the space, loved the convenience of having the horses downstairs all under one roof (cheaper to replace when a new roof would be required).

      Good luck.
      ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
      Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

      "Life is merrier with a terrier!"


      • #4
        humm.. make sure it's fenced acreage... fencing costs few zillion bucks


        • #5
          Depends on what you have to pay for either.

          If you can find undeveloped land cheap enough, you then can use the rest of your money to build what you want.
          Or you can buy all built right and pay more.

          I would just keep looking around for both and see what you find.
          Building your own will cost 1/3 more than you think, so budget for that and also much time you could be already running your place and enjoying your horses.
          Fine if you want to wait, not if you want to be working with the horses in your place from the start.

          Good luck, it takes that too to find just the right place for you.


          • #6
            "cheaper" depends on what you want LOL

            But build is exactly what we did. It was 10.75 acres that was partially wooded, and the woods are still there. Everything else was overgrown pasture with small trees and "junk" trees, so that was all bushogged with little stumps then removed, a few sections had to be really disked and fully seeded, as well as the whole thing being over-seeded.

            We built the house, barn, put up the fencing, ring, etc. all of it.

            It doesn't have to cost a LARGE fortune, just a small one

            Our Horseguard fencing was INFINITELY cheaper than 4-board fencing, and loads cheaper than any Ramm or similar vinly/flex fencing. Part of that was due to labor (we put up the tape ourselves), but part was that the materials themselves were just cheaper.

            The barn took about a year after we moved in to start. The ring a couple more years.

            The fact that your hubby is a contractor can save you LOADS in labor costs. We saved by doing the inside of the barn ourselves, but we did have someone else to the shell. We also saved more than a few $$ by doing some of the house work ourselves - an estimated $15k in bathroom tiling done for less than $5k in materials and our labor, for example. We also saved by contracting out the hardwood and carpeting ourselves, as well as electric and plumbing. We were VERY up front on that with our contractor (and actually had to fire the first contractor because he decided he wanted to try to back out of that deal).
            The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


            • #7
              Yes, I think labor can be the real killer, so you may really have something there, if you buy and build yourself. Not that he can do it all himself, but if he can be the GC, he can do alot of the labor and the GC work himself. and you can say, "And ah hayalped!"
              My warmbloods have actually drunk mulled wine in the past. Not today though. A drunk warmblood is a surly warmblood. - WildandWickedWarmbloods


              • #8
                I bought a place with a house that had good bones, and a terrible barn. I had the barn removed and a new one built. The perimeter fencing was up, but I ended up changing it. I didn't find a place that was exactly what I wanted, but I felt pretty confident in my ability to make the house into a place I could like. It was fun to pick and choose what I wanted in a barn.

                The barn's not big, but it's perfect for my three horses.


                • #9
                  Well, in this economy you can buy for a lot less than it would cost to build the same. We priced out building a new home in Raleigh with the same setup we have here (similar home, barn, arena, shop). The total came to $650K WITHOUT the cost of the land and without any high end finishes.

                  We were asking $400k for the exact same thing INCLUDING the land (a higher value here compared to Raleigh) and would have had to drop lower to sell.

                  So I'd say you can save a lot of money right now by buying rather than building. But if you'll have to retrofit a lot then that's a whole other bag of worms
                  Flying F Sport Horses
                  Horses in the NW


                  • #10
                    Don't rule out the bank barns!!! I know it's different than what you get out here, but they're amazing. Warm in the winter, cool in the summer, lots of storage... If I ever had a property back east I'd have one in a second...
                    "Adulthood? You're playing with ponies. That is, like, every 9 year old girl's dream. Adulthood?? You're rocking the HELL out of grade 6, girl."


                    • #11
                      around here, I'd say keep looking. barns and outbuildings don't seem to add much to the overall value of the land

                      But then again, around here it does not take much to keep horses, you can get by with minimal shelter, does not even have to be a barn....


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by PNWjumper View Post
                        Well, in this economy you can buy for a lot less than it would cost to build the same.
                        Not necessarily. Up here we did not have the housing market crash that you had in the US. Property values have continued to rise and the market has been strong for quite a while.

                        I would look at a house on cleared property then put in a barn. Take a good look at the soil though, and make sure it is something you can work with without having to put in a lot of drainage or additions because that can get expensive.


                        • #13
                          I looked for "ready to go" places in my area and there weren't ANY for sale. I ended up buying acreage and sitting on it a couple years. Finally I found a house builder I liked and a barn builder. The barn guy is really just doing a pole barn type frame using plans of the barn I am currently at and then we are finishing it out ourselves.
                          Moneywise, I am doing a one time close construction loan, that includes house,barn (plus wood to finish out),septic,power, well,fencing all rolled into one loan. The house builder is paying the interest until the house is move in ready,(so 3 or 4 months) the barn part will be done in a month and it will get finished out this summer.

                          I didn't include the arena costs in the loan (but thought about it) because I wanted to keep the loan itself down, so I could pay the mortage even if I had NO boarders. Three of my clients will pay 6 months of board in advance to cover arena cost. Really we are just as happy to ride on the lawns so no huge hurry on the arena. So a bit rustic to start but I am happy to have my home and horses on the same property.

                          Construction costs can vary depending on your area but if you find a piece of land you REALLY love then go for it !
                          Last edited by jumpytoo; May. 16, 2012, 09:10 AM. Reason: corrected info
                          I can explain it TO you,but I can't understand it FOR you


                          • #14
                            Usually it's cheaper to buy what you want already built, unless you can do most of the work yourself.

                            We went the "built it yourself" route. We were going to have a barn builder put up a shell, but after sticker shock at the price we did it all ourselves. We built this for about the same cost as an average new car. We both have construction experience, DH is a carpenter and is a pretty good welder. The only labor we paid for was the electric service entrance, septic and plumbing, and continuous gutters.


                            • #15
                              I was wondering how the deal ended up. Sorry to hear it fell through.

                              That is what I'm doing. I have yet to see a place with an adequate barn or decent horse fencing (pretty much all falling-down old barb cattle fencing). Most of the barns are gigantic old cattle barns that need new roofs and have 6 foot ceiling heights. I did offer on one place with a newer barn (no stalls though) but that is the only one I've seen in dozens of farms.

                              I am going to buy an existing home however. Building a home is incredibly expensive around here vs. buying an existing home and fixing it up.

                              I plan on having a contractor put up a barn shell and do the cement and then I will build out the inside. I'm sure all I will be able to afford is a pole barn (i.e. Morton-type building), but that's pretty much the norm in this area.

                              I will pay someone to drive posts and then will build fence myself.
                              DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


                              • #16
                                I'm attempting the in-between. I'm looking at a house on 10 acres. I would have to timber and perimeter fence most of it, but the price is cheap enough that I have leftover money. By fencing, I mean, I will have someone set posts and then I will coerce a crew to help me run the actual fence myself.

                                There is a shed that will not take much (like 3 steps) to convert to a simple 2 stall shedrow barn with a tack/feed room. The ceilings are a bit lower than ideal, but my horses live outside and are quiet geldings, so it can work for quite a while. Then all I do is cross-fence with tape, build a shed, get some rye in before winter and I'm good.

                                To buy something suitable for what I need here already set up is considerably more expensive, even taking into account the land clearing. Good horse property still has value here and a lot is fenced in high tensile, which I would have to initially line and eventually replace anyway. I figure the land is a good investment, it's in an excellent location for value, and is surrounded by permanently protected woods.

                                I know a couple people who do good work cheap or free (my SO is trying not to die of a very lethal thing right now, so I am on my own at the moment) and I'm good with tools. The house is small but in good shape and well cared for.

                                Now, all I have to do is sell my house. Anyone want to buy a great little house with an awesome kitchen and a sweet front porch?
                                Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                                Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                                We Are Flying Solo


                                • #17
                                  I bought a place that almost had everything and was very surprised at how workable the setup was done. House and yard in front, driveway to the barn in back, good perimeter fencing, and a large run-in pole barn style cattle shed. The cattle shed was easily converted to a not very fancy but very workable barn. I have added a fenced arena, hay shed, and a two stall run-in shed in second pasture. The hay shed is now a two stall temporary conversion barn and my small jump storage shed is my hay shed. I have nearly replaced all the fencing in the 18 years I have been here, but see no reason to replace the cattle shed. It has been here for 30 years with only minor repairs. My arena is right off the barn and is the best investment I have made. After 15 years it still is holding up very well. Flat land to begin with, but the topography still dropped 15-18 inches over the size of the arena. I stopped counting at 75 12 yard loads of roadbase (or caliche, whatever you call it) coming in to build up the base. Topped off with washed river sand and rubber. And fencing it off from the pasture keeps the young ones in and the others out.


                                  • #18
                                    I have said it before...and find myself saying it a lot more lately...I will NEVER buy an unfinished horse property again.

                                    Unless you have enough $$$$$ to actually BUILD the things you want/need in a timely manner, its just too much work and time.

                                    We thought it would be cheaper to buy land and build to suit...which, again, maybe if you have the $$$$$ up front to get it done it would be...but, for the rest of us, we do what we can when we can. And since my husband is a builder, he wants it done his way. So, I have been paying someone else board and building what I can when I have the extra $$$ and time.

                                    I would GLADLY pay a higher price from the get go and be able to move my horse right in vs. paying board AND trying to build my own place etc. Its just too hard.
                                    Never Ride Faster Than Your Guardian Angel Can Fly
                                    Way Back Texas~04/20/90-09/17/08
                                    Green Alligator "Captain"


                                    • #19
                                      In the U.S., particularly in "horsie" areas (like Ocala), you will get much more "bang for your buck" in buying an established property. Of course this does presume that the facilities are not just caving in from neglect.

                                      I'm not familiar with the Canadian market so I really can't comment on it.

                                      Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
                                        In the U.S., particularly in "horsie" areas (like Ocala), you will get much more "bang for your buck" in buying an established property. Of course this does presume that the facilities are not just caving in from neglect.

                                        I'm not familiar with the Canadian market so I really can't comment on it.

                                        I have a friend that is a real estate agent and no matter where you are, buying to build, unless you are a developer and can find those few places that are sold at rock bottom prices, is always more costly than buying already built.

                                        Individuals will rarely find any undeveloped land worth the money to improve it, those go many times even before they hit the market.
                                        What is left, there is a reason why it is cheap and undeveloped.

                                        That doesn't mean you can't do it, just that you have to be very careful when looking to buy undeveloped land and lucky that developing it didn't cost more than you can resell for.