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Too much space?

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  • #21
    Our house and main barn are built in a large C. Long side consists of extra wide wash stall, tack room, horse stall converted into an outside office by DH. Next is my old girl, feed stall, my gelding, "empty" stall and "staging" hay stall. Two stalls at bottom of "C" are used for household storage and equipment storage. Our small house forms the top of "c".
    The lower barn holds around 200+ bales of hay, useful to keep a supply when hay is hard to find. The 4 stalls in that barn have been used for storage, family and friends plus wood and paint for farm maintenance. DH took one of these stalls for another storage/work area, but plan to clean out 2 of the stalls, hopefully for new horses.

    Long way to show how we have used our barns and stalls in the past 15 years. If you choose to convert stalls into living space it is really quick and relatively inexpensive. We did the construction and brought in an electrician for the first stall/office, that took about 3 weekends with DH, his elderly father and myself. It took a contractor and his helper about 4 days. One of those days included an electrician.

    Is it a place you and your family can see yourself living in 10-20 years from now? Also check surrounding properties and land. Our real estate agent told us "facts" as she heard them and we didn't verify. Since then we have gained several new neighbors that we had not anticipated. All is good but it is a lesson we learned the hard way. In short all of the "open" land we were advised was available for riding by us and our immediate neighbors turned out to be land privatedly owned and leased to the local hunt. Access now requires one to be "friends" of or member of the hunt-not a problem. Plus some of the owners of the land between us and the hunt property have passed away and their land has been passed to their offspring.

    Good luck
    "Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
    Courtesy my cousin Tim


    • #22
      I would be wary. It sounds like too much farm for your needs. The extra money you spend on buying a barn means your family is getting a smaller house. And honestly, groom's quarters arrangements have no appeal to the non-devotedly horsey for resale.

      You'd be better off buying the nicest house you can find on a few cleared acres, fencing your backyard and putting up a run-in, from a resale perspective.

      You will need a lot of equipment to maintain that much property. And a LOT of time. Does your DH want to spend all his free time working on the farm? Because he will need to. What will you do with the kids while you mow all that grass? Two horses won't eat down 14 acres. Etc., etc., etc.

      And I now of which I speak...this year with the new baby, my farm looks like crap. My dad finally drove out from 3 states away to help me mow. Without child care I simply can't get the maintenance done...feeding the horses is all I can manage and that is not enough on a place this size, which has about the same amount of cleared land. Be careful you are not biting off too much.


      • #23
        As a person with a big house and a tiny barn, I'm going to disagree - with caveats...

        If you're looking for resale, I would pass.

        However, as my family has discovered, a big house is just a waste for people who all prefer to be (and have to be) outside because of taking care of the horses and property. I would far far rather live in a small house and have more barn space (and I have 3 kids), because for me, the house space is just a waste and I have to clean it far too often.

        My DH (who originally wanted a nicer, bigger, house) now agrees with me, knowing that both of us would rather work outside and muck stalls than vacuum, sweep or mop any day!


        • #24
          From a personal perspective I agree, OmeGrayPony...but OP is a military family and needs to consider resale as it will be all but inevitable. Plus pregnant and with a toddler cramps even the most outdoor-loving woman's style to some extent.

          But still, go for it if you think you can make it work, OP!


          • #25
            If you are moving again soon, be sure you buy what will be selling quickly, not some property that is "too large" also for most buyers when it is time for you to sell.

            With all those extra barns and room, my guess is that would make other buyers later, as you are, think twice.

            Just one more consideration.


            • #26
              Well, if it's a possibility that this might be a place to retire to later, it might be workable to rent it out later, I would think. Maybe not to one person for the whole thing, but you never know. You could rent the apartment to someone, and the horse facilities to someone else, a small breeder for instance. Or you might find a trainer who would rent the whole thing, but then would need a ring with real footing.

              I think a lot of it would depend on what the mortgage would be, and if you'd be comfortable carrying that plus your rent at whereever you have to move next via the military, minus what you could realistically rent it for.

              Just some additional things to think of. Personally, while I know you can buy "too much farm" as someone else said, I don't think they are building anymore land, and you can always subdivide it later and sell some off, and prices generally only go up over time. Or one of your children may take over when they are older and so are you. You could always build a new house on it when you retire to it, and the groom's quarters could be rented out or used for the help, or for your children to get started. Personally, if I were comfortable with the mortgage, I would do it.



              • #27
                Yea, sorry I didn't make that clear - I was trying to say, buying for resale that I would pass on it, but as a personal home I wouldn't worry about the indoor space. :-)

                I disagree though that as a pregnant woman with a toddler that I would want more indoor space. Depends in the location, but man, I sure didn't want to be taking care of the indoors :-)


                • Original Poster

                  Thank you, everybody, for all your thoughts. Both positive and negative aspects that I hadn't thought about!

                  To me, anyways, this place is exactly what I always thought about retiring too. If we weren't military, I would build a stand alone house and convert the apartment space into an office for DH and I. I'd love to run a small retirement facility. If wishes were horses....

                  The mortgage would be more than doable on our budget now (it's literally half of our BAH-basic housing allowance), and we would have enough in savings to float it for a year with no renter/buyer when we moved. Also, would be saving on the fact that Mike would be commuting about 10 miles to work instead of 60.

                  Having my girls that close to the barn would really make life easier, as the baby monitor would reach so stalls and smaller chores could be done during nap time, instead of loading them up into strollers and carriers to make the trek out. As far as kiddos getting loose in the barn, I think I'd rather have them loose in the empty barn than 20 ft from the road, like we are here. And, naturally, the proper precautions would be installed to keep them from getting loose.

                  DH has pretty much decided that he does want to talk to a contractor about extending the house space into the barn. If it's not doable, we'll pass. He likes a lot of space, while I'm kind of with OneGrayPony, less to clean! The house is about 1400sqft with 2 bedrooms. The whole thing does need a coat of paint, but it was clean and very well maintained. We're living semi comfortably in about 1500 right now, but he wants more.

                  The sensible part of my agrees with a lot of the COTHers who have cautioned that because of our situation, being military, it isn't the right buy for this point in our lives, but it is exactly what we have been looking for, with DH's exception of the small house. All the other homes with land that we've been looking at either have non-horse usable land, or the houses are from 1819 and just... *shudders*. We will be here until at least 2015, as the Men in Charge have put a freeze on all recruiter movements until then. He can request to stay here longer. He did 6 years up North before they shipped him out.

                  As a horse person, there is just so much potential for this place to be exactly what I want (and I do understand the work involved, as does DH) and the thought of being able to bring my girls home is serious icing on the cake. If we weren't military, we'd be moved in already!


                  • #29
                    OK, OP is pregnant too? I didn't know that, although I already chimed in with, "No."

                    This, by fordtraktor, in spades:

                    You'd be better off buying the nicest house you can find on a few cleared acres, fencing your backyard and putting up a run-in, from a resale perspective.
                    ...and then be ready to pull the horses off, board them, and restore that horse patch to an attractive yard.

                    You already have two dogs, one a fairly recent addition. You already have two cats, both a recent addition. You now have two horses, one a fairly recent addition. A new child will be the most recent of all. How much is hubby home and how much time do you think he has to take care of everything, as that is what it will come down to, much less taking care of the property? As others have already stated, you will have equipment to care for that much acreage and it takes a lot of time just for upkeep, never mind repairs.

                    IMHO, the heart is leading, not the head, and as much as having your own place and animals with you is attractive, when you are considering buying a home, the heart cannot be involved. Because the heart will rationalize what it wants and over-ride the head. Maybe, at some point, both will be one and the same but I don't think this is it.

                    Buying at auction is a red flag for me, too. My understanding of most auction sales is that you are buying "as is." With no opportunity of inspection I'd pass, pass, pass on this one. Is the septic up to code? Has the water been tested? What work would you need to put in and would the land use rules allow it? What may be present and acceptable now could be a factor of "grandfathering" and that usually pertains to the current owner and does not pass down to the next person, usually.

                    Based on living accommodations alone, I would pass on this one, especially with a new baby coming. Double if you don't or can't find out the real conditions before buying. Plus, I don't care how it looks, in general, there will be a lot of work that you can't see that will need taking care of. And if you wanted to add on to living accommodations to the barn, is that even allowed? I don't know the laws in the state but some can be restrictive about that.

                    How does one insure a building that is both a residence and a stable?

                    Like I said in my previous post, I'm not trying to be a downer. Just a realist. If you might have to resell the property, this one does not have a wide base of attraction to the general population. Just because it looks like heaven to a horse person, does not mean you don't have to worry about making the potential resell market as broad as you can.


                    • #30
                      I know having a place that belongs to you is attractive, but because you know you'll move soon I wouldn't do it. Don't buy a place until you get closer to retirement, decide exactly what you want, and where you want to live. Having to pay a mortgage on a place that won't sell, or having to rent at a price that doesn't even pay the mortgage is awful.
                      You can't fix stupid-Ron White


                      • #31
                        If the property is set up in a way that there are 16 stalls but only enough pasture to support a few horses and doesn't have an outdoor arena, I would pass. The second barn is pretty useless for you and the limited pasture and lack of riding space will make the property harder to sell or rent one day. It sounds like you will be putting tens of thousands into expanding the house, creating an outdoor arena, etc. with minimal chance of recovering that money longterm.


                        • #32
                          Another caution:

                          While a contractor might tell you something is doable, like extending the living space into the barn, he might not be the one to tell you if its practical, or even something that would meet code. FYI, from DH's experience with parents house that had been built in the early 50's from what was then very, VERY sturdy material- fast forward to today and trying to upgrade or expand on the electrical or plumbing is a nightmare. Expanding into a barn space and having the electrical/plumbing go with it, in an existing structure, could have all sorts of issues. Ditto the foundation for that part- it might not meet code for living space. And before you add any bedrooms, if the current septic is usable, what is it rated for? Most homes on a septic have a septic designed for X number of bedrooms. So if you want more, you might have to increase the septic capacity- if the place is on a septic, and I assume it is.

                          You may actually find it would be more practical to add on to the current living area like you were adding on to a house- and then you'd have even larger living area attached to a barn. That's not a resell except for a very dedicated trainer and then they'd have to have more acres.

                          Again, if this is an auction, have the septic and well passed inspection? Just because something may be in current use or have been used recently, doesn't mean it would pass. If you have to finance, what would the bank think about the whole thing? (And if you have to consider selling down the road, you need a property that others can finance, even if you don't have to. This property is already a limited-market item. If it can't be financed, problem goes up ten-fold) What about issues regarding property lines? What does the deed look like? Any right of ways involved?

                          I have been in the situation of building a dream on small acreage, only to have to sell it due to job necessities. But we knew when we built, to build something that would sell, just in case. That was a home with a barn that could be easily converted to non-horse use. This set up does not meet that criteria very well.

                          You have lots and lots of homework to do yet.


                          • #33
                            Just think, it is selling like that for a reason.
                            Be sure it is a reason you can live with also, not one that will land you later in a similar situation.

                            Remember, by the time you are ready to retire, no telling where and in what kind of housing you may consider then.

                            Just be very sure that, if you go ahead and it is a mistake, things don't work as you thought they may, you can live with whatever way this goes.

                            Hard to tell others when to stick their neck out and how far.
                            Wishing them the best luck is all we can do.


                            • Original Poster

                              Originally posted by Catsdorule-sigh View Post

                              IMHO, the heart is leading, not the head, and as much as having your own place and animals with you is attractive, when you are considering buying a home, the heart cannot be involved. Because the heart will rationalize what it wants and over-ride the head. Maybe, at some point, both will be one and the same but I don't think this is it.
                              I only quoted this bit, but really Cat, your whole post is one of the reasons that I love COTH. I don't really have a sounding board, other than DH, so being able to read this helps put things into perspective. Thank you! You are 100% right.

                              One of the things that might have pulling for it in terms of rental or resale, is the fact that it's up the road from a huge new equestrian park. They are just putting the finishing touches to the facility (I have yet to see it) and this property would be nice for somebody like myself, who wants a little quieter setting, but easy access to a nice facility.

                              I do have a ton of homework to do, but I immensely appreciate all the feedback! It's brought around a lot of questions that I wouldn't have thought to ask and things that I hadn't considered.


                              • #35
                                I think it sounds great, and not that hard to claim a few more hundred square feet from the barn to convert into house space. I think it sounds like you want this place, and can afford it, so, I'd buy it, if I were you. Nothing in life is predictable, and true, you don't know if you'll be able to resell it as easily and quickly as you might like when the time comes but, if it's what you want to live in, in the here and now, you might decide it's worth it. I think it is worth it, and I think an opportunity has presented itself, and I think you should listen to your heart (since your head is agreeing that you can afford it) and go for it.

                                We all have to find our own personal area of living the life we want, vs. being so cautious and responsible that we miss being who we want to be. It's a shame when the cautious and responsible side is all there is. :-) Do you want your story to be, "We're going for it!" or "We decided to pass" --- sometimes that can help with the decision.

                                Any other enabling required? :-)


                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by Superminion View Post
                                  I only quoted this bit, but really Cat, your whole post is one of the reasons that I love COTH. I don't really have a sounding board, other than DH, so being able to read this helps put things into perspective. Thank you! You are 100% right.

                                  One of the things that might have pulling for it in terms of rental or resale, is the fact that it's up the road from a huge new equestrian park. They are just putting the finishing touches to the facility (I have yet to see it) and this property would be nice for somebody like myself, who wants a little quieter setting, but easy access to a nice facility.

                                  I do have a ton of homework to do, but I immensely appreciate all the feedback! It's brought around a lot of questions that I wouldn't have thought to ask and things that I hadn't considered.
                                  Well, that changes the picture, as you have going for you there the old real estate requirement to make any work, "location, location, location".

                                  If that equestrian venue does thrive, your place close by should be a good asset then, more than a horse farm stuck in the middle of nowhere horsey.


                                  • #37
                                    I was thinking YES until I re-read the part about this being a temporary home potentially. There is a LOT of upkeep and things you haven't even considered will strike you as necessities once you are there. I have never bought a house and not spent more than I planned. Talking about buying a farm and quadruple that guestimate.

                                    If you are able to hang on to it if you have to move that's different, but remember (generally) no one will come close to taking care of your home the way you would.

                                    So if it is a long term decision yes, but if it is short-term then no.

                                    Also, how old is the house? You start doing renovations and you can find all kinds of interesting things you wish you hadn't. Another thing I can mention from experience, your house systems may not be the right size (load, pipe, vent size, etc.) to take care of an addition, and so it may be a much larger project than anticipated.

                                    How well do you handle stress? Moving, renovations, new baby...

                                    Just my two cents as someone who bought a farm in the last year.

                                    That said, it sounds rather divine...
                                    DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Just wanted to update on the farm.

                                      We met with a contractor recommended by our Realtor (who is AWESOME), and he said that building out into the barn would be doable, but it would take some 'creative engineering'.

                                      There also were two other offers on the place in the last week or so, so I think that we've decided to pass on it, instead of getting into a bidding war. I showed DH this thread and he agreed with me that y'all had A LOT of wonderful points, that neither of us had thought about. The headache at this point is greater than the reward, as much as that stinks. Going to look at some houses in good 'ole suburbia this weekend. *sniff*

                                      That being said, if anybody can recommend good boarding in the Oldham County area, pasture board with an indoor, that would be great!


                                      • #39
                                        Why don't you just rent, since you're probably going to Rucker, and then elsewhere after? I know too many people who bought, and now can resell or rented for less than the mortgage payment.

                                        Places like Rucker are very popular to buy a townhouse, or affordable house, live there through flight school, and then rent out. However, I know after Desert Storm they had a big drawdown the way they are anticipating now, and even though the inventory was much smaller homeowners couldn't even rent places. I know several who were so desperate they let Section 8 rent it, and that was a total nightmare.
                                        You can't fix stupid-Ron White


                                        • Original Poster

                                          Our BAH doesn't come close to covering the amount that people are asking for rent in the area. Even around Knox, where we are now, finding a rental with enough space that will allow the dogs is $$. The area that we are looking at this weekend is up and coming as far as housing, schools, shopping, etc. It's a great time to jump on something for resale in a few years. The rental market in that area is really high as well, so we shouldn't have a problem renting out if we have to. When we were looking to rent, everything got snapped up before we even had a chance to look. Best case scenario from talking with DH last night, I'll be here until late 2014/early 2015 while he goes through training, worst case we'll be here for 4+ more years. We won't know if he even passes his boards until September, and then will have to wait for a training slot to open if he does. Word from above is that they are being particularly picky so it may not even happen.