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Too much space?

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  • Too much space?

    Hubby and I have been house shopping, and we've come to the consensus that we want a property where I can bring the girls (and possibly a pony..hehe) home. I'm handling all their care right now, and feel 100% confident in my ability to keep horses at home.

    My question (one of 812) is that we've finally found a property in our price range that we love. The house is a little bit on the small side, but this won't be a forever home. The property itself is on 14 acres, and that is separated into 3 good sized pastures (yay for rotation!) by high tensile wire. It does, however, have two barns with 8, 14x14 stalls apiece. That's 16 stalls for two horses and lots of maintenance! It already has a grooming/wash stall in each barn, plus space for hay storage, equipment, and a tack/grain room. Am I looking at *too* much barn space here? The (human) living quarters are actually semi-attached to the main barn, so how much headache would we be looking at if we added on an additional room or two by cutting into the stall area?

    I would think about taking on a boarder or two, since I don't think that the land can accommodate 16 horses, but honestly, I really don't want to jump through the insurance and liability hoops.

    Everything else about the place is perfect, and the barns ARE really nice. We would literally be able to close and move in the same day, horses, humans, and all!

  • #2
    Take out the stall in the second barn and use it for hay and tractor storage or a covered riding area for winter.


    • #3
      No such thing as too much space. You will start collecting. Someone will give you the ornery pony their kids never rode. Then maybe a goat, or two. then some chickens, a rabbit...

      I really don't think anything less than 10 acres, even for one or two horses, ever really works.


      • #4
        I am in the never too much space club. As far as acerage for grazing there is an old farmer ratio of 4 acres per grazing horse. Believe me if you have the space you will fill it. If not with critters as above, theres lawn mowers, tillers, seeders, and any other misc equipment that is needed for property maintainance. (I am an equipment junkie) Good luck at your new place. Sounds real nice!
        Just like our eyes, our hearts have a way of adjusting to the dark.--Adam Stanley


        • #5
          Well I can't predict the OP's future needs, but that seems like a lot of extra space for me. They just mentioned wanting one other pony. Not rabbits, chickens, goats, etc etc. They also didn't mention a need for an indoor arena, or an entire barn's worth of machinery storage. That's a lot of $ to make all those things happen and maintain it.

          I agree that if you have that space, you will fill it, as Hulk said. But do you really want to? You said that this is not a "forever" home, so someday you're going to have to move. Which means moving/rehoming 2-barns worth of stuff.

          And you seem unsure of the boarder thing; there are multiple threads on here that suggest not taking on boarders if you don't have to. So I would really think that through before you commit to that much space. I have 7 acres for three horses, only about 4 of which are pasture, and a 3 stall barn. That is plenty, IMO.


          • #6
            Just because there are 2 barns with 16 stalls on the farm doesn't mean you have to fill them. But, if you are afraid you might be tempted to add a few 'extra' critters, then take the stalls out that you don't need.

            If human living quarters are attached to one barn and you said that it was on the small side then seriously look into converting stall area to living area. You'll need to see if you can do that with any zoning or code issues though and might even consider checking that out before putting in a purchase offer or add that as a contingency.

            You might want to consider leaving the horses stalled in the barn with LQ depending upon your winter weather and then move them to the other barn come summer so you don't need to deal with fly issues. Just a thought.

            Good luck with whatever you do decide.

            I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.


            • #7
              Gee... That the house and main barn are simi-attached expand the house into the barn; move the horses to the secondary barn

              Main deal is no building permits required for the expansion of the house into the Simi-attached barn as it is a remodel not new construction


              • #8
                Well, in keeping with the above post, you could always convert one barn into something else completely (while keeping it "recoverable" for horse use, of course :-) ). What if you claimed a few rooms from the attached barn and converted them into living space for humans (made some great kitchen/great room/laundry/conservatory/mud room combination, for example), kept the rest for non-stinky equipment storage, garage, etc., and kept the second barn for horses?

                You could always fill another stall or two with a rescue/foster.... :-)


                • #9
                  Just because you have empty stalls doesn't mean you have to fill them. I have two empty and they're staying that way. I just sweep out the cobwebs every once in a while.

                  I don't see how it could be a downside unless the barns need significant repair. As far as resale...it's like bedrooms...you can sell a house with more bedrooms than a buyer needs, but if you have fewer bedrooms, that buyer is going to walk away.


                  • #10
                    Hurry up and buy it before I do LOL! It sounds like a great place, if your biggest issue is too much space, I would say you are golden!
                    I LOVE my Chickens!


                    • #11
                      OMG, that sounds amazing. No - not too much space at all! Believe me, with herd dynamics, you will probably want to get a pony and depending on how you ride out or leave (1 horse only? Or 2?)....you may need to get another "anchor" horse.

                      Also - you will need MASSIVE STORAGE SPACE. Just the sheer fact that you have a ranch/farm means EQUIPMENT and STUFF! Think: implements, materials, wood, tools, all manner of extra "stuff".

                      If you really think you won't need two "barns" - turn one of them into equipment/storage.

                      Also - sounds like you may not have to feed much hay like we do here in CA, but hay storage for the year is nice to have.

                      So my vote is - YES, GET IT!!!! Also with 14 acres you have plenty of room to add even more.....outdoor arena, round pen, (and if it were me - I'd put a XC course out there heheheheee)

                      I wish we had 10 acres - we have 4, which is alot for Santa Clara County (South SF Bay Area)
                      Equine & Pet Portrait Artist
                      **Morgans Do It All**


                      • Original Poster

                        Thanks everybody! The place is everything we wanted, plus 10x's more. It's being auctioned off as part of an estate. The previous owners used it as a breeding facility. The main barn has a center aisle, then four 14x14 stalls on either side, the dividers come out to make four large foaling stalls. I suppose I could take the centers out and then my girls would REALLY be living in style. At the end of the aisle there is a wash rack on one side and a grain/tack room on the other. Living quarters on the end with door access to the barn through a small mudroom.

                        The other barn is shedrow style, with 8 stalls in a row then wash stall and grain/tack room on the end, so I don't think that I could convert that to an indoor. There is already a three sided equipment shed for extra hay storage/garage (finally... a roof for my truck!). Main barn is cement flooring w/cinder block walls, so it would be a huge undertaking to turn that into the indoor. I feel like it would be easier to extend the house out and turn the other two stalls into the grain/tack room, since that's the most lacking part. It was the grooms quarters, so fitting a family of 4 in it might be tight. From my research, though, it could send us up a tax bracket? I don't really even know where to start looking for somebody to do anything with coding and zoning.

                        My big concern is that I WOULD end up saying things like, oh, well what's one goat? We have the space! We can take your minis if you don't want them! We have the space! Sure, we'll take those puppies! Bring over those donkeys! Then before I know it the locals are calling me Dr. Dolittle and when we have to move in a few years we'll be in over our heads (we're a military family, so won't be collecting equipment either) and DH will just divorce me.

                        I think that the land could easily support two horses and a pony, with space to rotate pastures. The paddocks each have run ins, which makes it nice for them to stay out overnight in the summer. My plan is to turn the flattest into an outdoor, since it doesn't have any real riding space other than a stallion paddock, which is a medium sized round pen. DH is just digging in his heels a bit since he seems to think that there is too much equine space and not enough human space.

                        Has anybody successfully converted barn space into living space? Also, would this be a property that would easily rent, should we (by we I mean husband.. I've already decided!) decide that we want to retire back there at the end of his career?

                        Sorry about all the rambling, I'm a little TOO excited!


                        • #13
                          You can never have too much -pasture- and it sounds as if it is set up well for horse keeping. DH and I have 17 acres in one long track with a lot of hills. I am replacing all the hi tensile, and it is a lot of maintenence land wise. Anything we don't mow etc looks like crap. Which is frustrating since with two young kids I do not have the time to weed whack every single spot that needs it and DH does not let me mow (okay who can blame him after I backed into his new Volvo 2x in one month... Ugh!). He works a lot of hours, like your husband, so that is something to consider.

                          Another thing, I am not sure how much of your 14 acres is pasture. If you somehow didn't need it all, you could cut hay off some of it. That is what I do with our front field, I also have a back field and a side valley in which I can turnout once my fencing project is finished.

                          My other concern is that you have to move in 3 years. It would stink to make this into your equestrian paradise only to have to move again right away. 3 years goes by quickly!

                          But if you can handle the maintenance, I say go for it but remember... Stalls can stay empty! Taking care of a whole seperate barn is way more work than just one more stall, and no one argue with me here... We are trying to keep the OP from filling those stalls! Lol.


                          • #14
                            It would be great for resale, because in this market you need to look outside of horse property buyers. Your horse farm might be someone else's llama farm, dog training facility, a car collector or restorer's garage space, or somewhere to grow mushrooms. Don't limit your options to selling to horse owners. Some buyers also just want land, but do nothing with it.

                            And I'm not sure you could expand into the barn space for your living quarters. It depends on the condition of the barn, how well it was built, and how much it will cost to insulate, and convert the barn. Zoning or building codes might not allow it anyway. It might be quicker and easier to do a concrete slab, and put a modular extension with a master suite or family room next to the current living quarters-and this is not put a trailer there either. Factory custom built modular are built to current zoning codes, can match the siding on the current house, and you can choose a variety of options and floor plans to fit your needs.
                            You can't fix stupid-Ron White


                            • #15
                              Turn the main barn into main house.
                              And when you farm you will need space to store your equipment out of the weather.


                              • #16
                                I'm going to be the "negative" one and say no.

                                Sounds like a fantastic horse property and it suits your horse needs perfectly sans a few too many stalls.

                                But think to the future first.

                                You say this is not a forever home, then say you could retire there. It's either one or the other, unless you can afford to pay for it while you're not there or manage it as a rental when you are miles away. Then, you'll have to swallow hard if you wind up somewhere else you'd rather retire to, but are now locked into this property.

                                I've been told it takes five years to recoup from a sale or buying of property, just to pay the costs of that. Will you be there that long if you end up selling it? Sounds like the living situation is doable but maybe not sustainable, which means you'll be putting more money into it.

                                If you were to keep this long term, I'd look at making one of the buildings into a home. Which advice has already been given. IMHO, a horse property with a real home will attract more buyers in the future than something with more barns and "apartment-like" living quarters. There already exists more stall space than the acres can handle, so in effect, unless a future buyer wants mud lots for turn out, it's not attractive that way. I'm guessing this parcel was spun out of a bigger plot of land that when it was in use, could handle that many horses. So in effect, you have several buildings that, in a purely practical sense, add no value, to you.

                                If you get this at a super, super fantastic price, it might be worth it. But I think you've got a lot of work in the living quarter department to consider. And I say that looking at resale- not what you would personally put up with. With resale, you're banking that whatever you put into it you can get out of it, and in this market, I don't think that holds true any more.

                                Then, you have a child. Do you want a young child around with that much easy access to horses? Granted, even with a real house situation, that's still something you have to be super vigilant about. But living practically WITH them? I think I'd be a nervous wreck most of the time. And your dogs- would they need a kennel with run so they don't interact with the horses right next to them? I don't know how they are around horses but you probably need to have facilities for them, also. Which could be done, you have lots of space and buildings.

                                These are the things I would consider. Are you sure you would retire there? Can you afford to make payments on the place and rental at the same time? Are you ready for a renter to not take as nice care of the property as you would? Can you sell this down the road if you have to and at a price that would at least recoup what you put into it?

                                If I were single and training, I'd love a place like that. Any other scenario, I might pass. It's not what you need right now you have to consider, it's what you can afford and will need down the road. It sounds like your husband is military so you know he can be reassigned. Once out, the job market may dictate you live somewhere else. Personal experience speaks here. The times they aren't what they used to be.

                                Not trying to be a downer. We've had reality whack us over the head too many times in the last ten years. Really though, the things to consider very hard relates to how long you keep the property and how limited your market is for buyers. This sounds very much like a limited market buyer property for now. That would give me a lot of pause.

                                Now, if money were no object- in a New York minute!


                                • #17
                                  I dunno I see income potential by offering pasture board for a few retired horses. Fees generated from that could go towards fertilizing the pasture and/or haying some of it and might offset some of the annual taxes. Retired horses = owners not out riding 5 days a week.


                                  • #18
                                    As you realize that this is not a forever home, I would be diligent about not adding anything to your menage. It is very hard to rehome various critters to whom you have become attached. And acquiring boarders can be stressful and confining.
                                    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                                    Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Superminion View Post
                                      (we're a military family, so won't be collecting equipment either)
                                      I can't really imagine owning such a large place and not collecting a significant amount of equipment... just for example, you'll need something to mow with, a generator so you have water in power outages, etc. -- or you'll need to rent stuff.

                                      Will you have the time to paint and maintain all the buildings? Repair fencing, mow fields... I wouldn't think using the space (or not) would be a problem, but every additional building is that much more upkeep, and as a recent new homeowner I can attest that everything costs twice as much and takes twice as long as you thought it would.


                                      • #20
                                        The biggest problem I see is resale, in a buyer's market. I don't see that changing any time soon either. Plus, don't forget that with the coming personnel cutbacks almost every post will lose Military and civilian personnel, further decreasing the buying pool. And farms aren't selling as quickly as they used to. With all of the Military cutting back a loss of buyers from a unit being cut could be devastating to you, and civilian employees will almost undoubtedly be reduced in number. You don't want to end up having to rent out because you can't sell either, if what you want to do is sell the place when you PCS. If you are totally in love with this place, and intend to keep it for retirement, then you might want to go forward, but you'll have to rent when you're not there or else pay the mortgage for years to come.

                                        Around here the BRAC process caused a lot of new builds, but the houses that are selling are all new. Nothing is moving except the new ones, and many people are walking away, or doing short sales, so a lot of people are stuck. Foreclosures or short sales are the only good deals around here, so existing home owners (yes, like me) are stuck until I get to a much smaller amount still owing on the house. Closing costs are killer for sellers, especially when in a buyer's market the seller may have to finance the buyer's closing costs.
                                        Last edited by JanM; May. 26, 2013, 09:42 PM.
                                        You can't fix stupid-Ron White