We spent Saturday on the Great Property Search. I suppose I could call this chapter one, because it might yet turn into a full-length novel . . . I do a lot of research before we even get in the truck and head out: location, size, terrain, area, neighbors and developments, aerial view, plat, etc., and yes, we’re working with an agent. We left the house around 7:30 and got back at 2:30, covering 200 miles.
It was a LONG trip. Long. My point is that I’m not in very good shape when it comes to driving that much, so now I have something else to add to the prep list. Besides Advil, that is.
The parcels we looked at? Oh, yeah:
The first one was 42 acres, plus a lake lot at an adjoining development. That last part worried me. According to the mapping, etc., there were two parts of a development surrounding two lakes—now, each lot was about 5 acres or so, but it was still a planned community and we don’t want that.
We only made one wrong turn, and didn’t go too far out of the way, and then we found the road into the “subdivision.” I thought surely it was the back entrance . . . but no.
Ever driven through a creek bed? This was exactly like that.
The term “gravel road” can apparently apply to anything that has gravel on it. Anything.
This road was about as wide as my truck. Barely. It dropped straight down from the paved road for about 20 feet, crossed a slab of concrete that passed as a bridge, then rose straight up for another 50 feet before curving to the right. And by “gravel,” I mean rocks ranging from pea-sized to boulder-sized.
We pressed on.
The road leveled out some, and by that I mean no more ups and downs, but it was far from level. Or a road, for that matter. So we wound around for a few minutes, dropping into first gear a few times, then we reached the intersection. The property was to our right, so we turned onto the next road.
All we could see through the trees were, well, more trees. And a huge drop-off, about 20 yards in; to my relief, the word “development” appeared to mean “one or two houses actually built back here, because no trucks could possibly deliver materials.”
So there was that.
I pulled over into a flat-ish, cleared area, and my husband decided to walk down the clearing to check the lay of the land. I waited for our agent, who arrived in a tiny Toyota. She’d come in the “main entrance.” Finally, my husband showed up again, and announced: It’s a damn cliff down there!
Cliff or not, I’d already had nightmares of trying to bring in anything—even a trailer—and so we left. Barely. The road out was almost as bad, again, exactly like driving through an up-and-down creek bed. Exactly.
The next stop was about an hour south. Seemed farther than the map had shown, but not by much.
It was darn near perfect, in spite of being at the high end of our allotted budget. We parked in a 30-foot clearing that was actually owned by a neighbor; we stepped over a stretched cable and walked another 30 yards or so to a chain barrier—this was also owned by a neighbor, a different one, but had deeded access. I should also add that, in spite of the cable and chain, there was a fairly level but slightly overgrown gravel road that lead back to the center of the property. This was also 40 acres.
We walked around for half an hour or so and decided that yes, we could do something with this. Beautiful.
On the way out, we saw a couple come walking in—they said they had permission to be there, and had seen it before, and were going in search of boundary markers. We shrugged and moved on. While standing by the cars, talking with our agent, a pickup truck pulled up.
Out stepped a rather large man, dressed in camo. Naturally.
Was I worried? No, just wary. Especially since he’d blocked us in.
Turns out, he was the neighbor who owned the second part of the access road; said he was supposed to have been notified and no one was allowed to come out without an agent. We had, of course, and had been told he’d gotten a call. Oops.
The other people who were there, no idea. Not my problem, but the guy left after a few minutes of conversation:
He told us that it would likely cost $20K to bring in electric from the road and to drill a well. Yikes! About four times my previous estimate! Which, of course, if that pans out, will move this property off our list. Very fast!
He also said that the access on which we were parked was NOT deeded, and that the owner, Butch, had refused to do so. Not sure why, I mean, come on, 30 feet? Whatever. That, too, could be a problem at any point. Regardless, we’re on hold here until the utility estimate comes in later this week. He could be way off base. Maybe.
Oh, and by the way: there is definitely WiFi out there!
We still have nearly a dozen properties to go look at, but not till the end of the week. Most are further out than I’d like, but that’s where the cheap land is—it will, however, make developing and moving a little more problematic. Not impossible, not at all, but a little more difficult.
Time to be flexible, which is, of course, a basic tenet of prepping. You can plan, but things don’t always go according to that plan . . .