Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Farm Hunters: Updates

Just to clarify my process going forward: I'm writing my property profiles based on the on-paper information I have before we look at these places in person. I'll do updates once we actually see the properties. With that in mind, I have two updates!

Property #1

We went and saw the house, and it was exactly as gorgeous in person as promised. Absolutely gorgeous. Droolworthy. The kitchen...! Surprisingly, for 2,500 square feet, it felt small, though. The bedrooms were tiny. The downstairs rooms were chopped up oddly. 

Then we walked the property. The lot was in an L shape around the neighbor's lot, and their back yard was RIGHT on top of this property's. The barn had been recently redone, but clearly they hadn't graded the base appropriately: the dirt floor was packed weirdly, and one wall had already lifted up with several inches of daylight showing and a swathe of ice where water had leaked in. It was spacious and pretty-looking from the outside, but would require work to make livable for a horse, which was unexpected.

The agent was pretty convinced that we could in fact buy extra land behind the house, but with the property already edging toward the high side of our budget, the condition of the barn, and the overall location of the house RIGHT on a very busy road and right on top of the neighbors, we passed on it.

Property #2

The good news first: we liked the house much, much more than we thought we would. For all that the overall square footage was smaller than the first house, it felt more spacious & open. Windows were all new, and all of the rooms were in overall nice shape, except for some truly hideous wallpaper. (Whyyyyy, people?!)

The outbuildings were all in surprisingly usable shape! There was a 20x20 insulated barn with a concrete slab that had clearly been used in the not-too-distant past for chickens, but thankfully did not smell of it.

Also, possibly kennels? A little unclear.

Second outbuilding was in tough shape but probably usable for hay storage. Third outbuilding was in better shape but weirdly done on the inside - but definitely usable for equipment storage.

The lot was six acres total, which, if everything was perfect, would be enough. Here's where I'm still not sure. If the property lines were drawn one way, behind the barn and across a small creek was an open space of at least an acre that just needed a little work to fence it in. So, say, a dry lot off the barn.

If the property line was in fact closer, along the line of the creek, then the land went straight up a decently steep hill. Not impossibly steep, but not exactly level and/or gently rolling either. Oh, and entirely, thickly wooded.

Plus, there's that creek. Everything was under 12" of snow, and I tried to do some stomping around but was unsuccessful in my investigations. Was it a trickle or mostly a thin marshy area? Did it run up the banks in the spring? Was the land around it boggy, or was it pretty good land with simply a creek running through?

In short: there's still a lot of potential there, but there was no way of gauging the land in the winter, which is something I've been afraid of since the beginning of the process. 

The other drawback: we timed it, and it's a solid 15 minutes to the highway for the fiance, who then has a 45 minute commute. When all is said and done, that may have been the biggest drawback. It just wasn't quite right.

We've been looking at other houses, too, without land, city houses at a far lower price point. I did wonder whether that was something people would be interested in hearing about, too, or just the potential farms? Honestly it's about the only exciting thing going on in my life right now, unless you want to hear all about the exciting time I spent on the couch crocheting and catching up on Orphan Black...


  1. Michelle (Upper Valley, NH)January 21, 2015 at 11:46 AM

    I know you're passing on the second house but if you wanted to look into things further, definitely check out the map at town hall. Wetlands would be marked on them and if they are, make sure you know the zoning laws (or whatever they're called!) involving wetlands. Otherwise the only way to tell is to see what happens in the spring. If you are very serious about a property, hiring a landscape architect that specializes in wetlands, ponds, etc. would be invaluable. My neighbor does that for a living and he was very instrumental in helping me figure out how best to manage our land and water issues. The amount you pay for a consult could save you a lot of headaches and/or money in the future. If they're local they may even know the history of the land.

    I love the process of house hunting, as long as it's not for me. We ended up with our property because it was the only one in our price range that was large enough to support two horses. It came complete with a fixer-upper 70's house. Do not underestimate the value of good windows, insulation and a finished house!

    1. Thanks, that's really good advice! We're looking at some in-town finished houses for pretty much that reason.

      I am very nervous to look at land until mud season for exactly the reasons you describe. I'd want a lot more info before I moved on anything, for sure.

  2. Commuting is my idea of HELL so I can totally understand waiting on that property. Though the outbuilding situation did look pretty awesome... Good luck in your continued search!!

    1. I've done the hour + trafficky commute from hell in the past, and I am very sympathetic to not wanting to do so in the future, so we're both trying really hard to balance everything.

      I'm a bit spoiled - my current commute is a 10 minute walk, and I love it.

  3. sorry that neither farm really fit the bill -- good luck in your hunt tho! and who knows, maybe the city house is the best bet for now so that a more perfect barn can be your future?? idk... just good luck!

    1. Thanks! And yes, it may be that the city house gets used as equity toward a bigger, better house + acreage in another 5 years or so. So much to juggle!

  4. I would most definitely want to see the land in the spring to gauge wetness.

  5. My 25 minute commute makes me crazy...I can't imagine any longer than that. But then I'm a wuss.


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