Am I insane to buy this land?!

baymule

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There is nothing like your own home, on your own land. You have done your research, dig a little more, some very valid points have been brought up. If you are satisfied with the results, I say go for it. Land here is stupid high priced and somewhere in life, you just gotta jump in and take the chance. With 2 houses on it, the value would sky rocket. You could keep an eye on selling it later and buying another place. Or just happily settle down and have the income from the first house help make the payment.
 

catjac1975

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So I have a tiny, miniscule, vanishingly small pot of money to use as downpayment to buy land. I also have to stay close to my day jobs.

I found a random plot of land- 7.46acres on straddling the city limits for $175k. 2.16acres is inside city limits and has utilities available. Yawn, boring. The remaining 5.3acres are the creek bottoms with approx. 1 acre outside the floodplain. As far as I can tell, completely raw forest.

My insane plan is to build a nice house on city acres and start developing the bottoms land as food forest. Rabbits, chickens, and maybe goats. Then build our house in the back 1 acre and rent out the front house. Really insane or just out of the box? Here's the topo and overhead view.
Make sure you know all of the regulations that may be in place before you buy the land. Insane? The big question. Can you afford it? Building prices around us are out of control. If you are financially stable, it is a great dream, then go for it. But do your research, maybe have the soil tested.
 

Ridgerunner

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I wasn't sure what riparian rights actually referred to so I went looking. It's not exactly what I assumed.

The concept of riparian rights refers to the rights of all landowners whose properties connect to a running body of water, such as a river or stream. More specifically, the term refers to their right to make “reasonable use” of the water that flows either through or over their properties. Examples of riparian rights include swimming, boating, or fishing.

One question would be on wetlands restrictions as well as riparian rights, a different concept. Is that flood plain considered a wetland? Wetlands are often protected, often by the feds, sometimes state.. Are you allowed to develop that flood plain in any way. Are animals like goats or chickens allowed, let alone buildings or agriculture? If that flood plain portion is a protected wetlands it might interfere with your food forest plan.

You are talking about the part of Texas that does get rain so water isn't quite as precious as it would be further west but you can get dry. And it is Texas, who knows what that bunch will try. Are you allowed to use that water for irrigation if you want to? Is that creek part of some town's water supply where there are restrictions about polluting it with animal manure or other agricultural practices? These types of restrictions are usually on big commercial operations like pig farms or chicken houses instead of a small private self-use but it's best to know up front.

What are the zoning restrictions, if any? I had some restrictions out in the county in Arkansas, those are not just for the city. The minimum size lot I could sell or build a house on was 1 acre and it had to have a minimum number of feet of road access for a driveway. That was controlled by the county but they let the nearest town have some control on those restrictions. That depended in how likely it was that the town might eventually annex that property. Zoning restrictions can interfere with your plans and your county land is pretty close to a town.

Whether or not that creek flows year around or dries up in dry times may have an effect.

As for the other things and your plans, those are lifestyle decisions if the money works for you. It's what you want that counts, not what I want. That sounds like a big lifestyle change.

This reminded me of a couple in Arkansas that raised pigs and chickens for farmer's market and restaurant supply. They had a creek that flowed right through their property. They built their pig enclosure where it flooded in an unusually heavy rain, some chicken houses too. They realized their mistake when they were in the middle of a flood trying to rescue their pigs. Even if there are no legal restrictions be careful how you set it up.
 

flowerbug

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This reminded me of a couple in Arkansas that raised pigs and chickens for farmer's market and restaurant supply. They had a creek that flowed right through their property. They built their pig enclosure where it flooded in an unusually heavy rain, some chicken houses too. They realized their mistake when they were in the middle of a flood trying to rescue their pigs. Even if there are no legal restrictions be careful how you set it up.

it's not even the legal aspects which are as important to me to consider as what is good for the river/stream for water quality.

in older times people did what they wanted and destroyed wetlands and river banks by running animals and not caring what they were doing.

the obvious consequences are there to see. poorer river water quality, pollution and diversity of animals and plants being affected.
 

flowerbug

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There's another plot nearby that is 4.3acres for $225k. No bottoms land but has burned out mobile home. That is causing me grief with financing.

when someone speaks of a vanishingly small pot of money that sounds like a serious constraint and if for some reason you run into issues (which there always will be with a house and land) that you don't have much of a cushion if things don't work out as expected. it sounds like you have a job so that's a good thing. i just hope that you are secure enough in the job to ride out any issues and that it works out for you. :)

the reluctance of the financing makes perfect sense since you admit to not having very deep pockets.
 

margali

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Thanks everyone! I've reviewed the Texas floodway regulations. Any fill, serious grading, or bridges would require TX DNR and maybe Army Corp of Engineer approval. Low water crossing and dams to up to 200acre-ft are specifically listed as permit not required. Impervious fences require approval but pervious (ie barbed, multistrand, or electric) do not.

The tiny downpayment is relative. I could buy 2 acres raw outright but that is barely 10% down on anything with a house already built. I have a seperate pot for reserves and live well below income. Land will help cause the biggest budget items is FOOD. We go thru so much chicken and eggs.

@flowerbug Could you explain more about how NOT to damage creek bed with animals? I'm think maybe 3 larger critters (goats, sheep, or cows) total. I'm not sure of carrying capacity with a small grass section and woods but definetly not overload area. Chickens and rabbits would be penned.
 

flowerbug

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Thanks everyone! I've reviewed the Texas floodway regulations. Any fill, serious grading, or bridges would require TX DNR and maybe Army Corp of Engineer approval. Low water crossing and dams to up to 200acre-ft are specifically listed as permit not required. Impervious fences require approval but pervious (ie barbed, multistrand, or electric) do not.

The tiny downpayment is relative. I could buy 2 acres raw outright but that is barely 10% down on anything with a house already built. I have a seperate pot for reserves and live well below income. Land will help cause the biggest budget items is FOOD. We go thru so much chicken and eggs.

@flowerbug Could you explain more about how NOT to damage creek bed with animals? I'm think maybe 3 larger critters (goats, sheep, or cows) total. I'm not sure of carrying capacity with a small grass section and woods but definetly not overload area. Chickens and rabbits would be penned.

since i don't know what is there already i can't say what approaches would be best, but for an open area with grasses and weedy banks you pretty much want to limit how much traffic hooved animals are going up and down the bank. so an uphill stock water trough and some kind of fence controls might be needed or just keeping the animals under control in paddocks away from the banks. in places where it has already overgrown then the water flows are likely going to wander around and through the bushes and trees - any disturbance or thinning of brush can open up that area for erosion during storms if there isn't enough time to get a sturdy enough ground cover in place or some other means of controlling the potential for erosion.

sure, stuff happens and you can't be perfect, but to me these are things to consider and the main reason is that erosion is what is removing water, nutrients, organic matter and topsoil so any chance you have to reduce those losses means you are gaining fertility.

one of my own examples from what i've learned here is that a grassy lined ditch is very stable as long as someone isn't burning the banks or letting bushes, vines or trees get established. oh, and keep the darned groundhogs out of there...
 

Zeedman

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I wasn't sure what riparian rights actually referred to so I went looking. It's not exactly what I assumed.

The concept of riparian rights refers to the rights of all landowners whose properties connect to a running body of water, such as a river or stream. More specifically, the term refers to their right to make “reasonable use” of the water that flows either through or over their properties. Examples of riparian rights include swimming, boating, or fishing.

One question would be on wetlands restrictions as well as riparian rights, a different concept. Is that flood plain considered a wetland? Wetlands are often protected, often by the feds, sometimes state.. Are you allowed to develop that flood plain in any way. Are animals like goats or chickens allowed, let alone buildings or agriculture? If that flood plain portion is a protected wetlands it might interfere with your food forest plan.
The biggest problems with waterways are possible wetland restrictions (as covered by @Ridgerunner ), flood plains, and use restrictions (such as minimum offsets). Additional problems can occur if the waterway is considered to be navigable... and surprisingly small creeks can be classified as "navigable". Part of my Grand Father's difficulties were that the stream adjoining his property was navigable. The county told him that he had to allow fisherman right-of-way river access to those walking the river bank. But because his driveway was the only road access to that part of the river (and perhaps because the county plowed partway in) he also had to allow access through his property. That meant he had to allow strangers to enter his private drive, park on his property, and maintain a pathway for them to the river. It was basically a government-sanctioned open door to trespassers. :mad:

All that being said...
It sounds like the property you are looking at has a lot of potential, @margali , and you have already done a considerable amount of research. I look forward to updates.
 

baymule

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@Zeedman private property is sacred in Texas. I know that people have the right to walk along rivers, but only around 10 feet in width, I think. We do NOT have to provide access through our property. Access is by a boat ramp and a boat. LOL I’ve never heard of anyone having the right to enter private property by a creek. Most ranchers have water gaps across creeks to prevent livestock from getting out.
I don’t think the creek will cause any problems for @margali as far as fishermen and tress passers go.
 

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