After you know your Budget it’s time to sit down and make your Must Haves, Would like to have, and don’t want at all lists. These can be as basic or detailed as you want, but in doing this it will help you get your priorities in order and will be of a great benefit to your agent if you use one.
My one piece of advise for creating this list is to keep in mind your future. Will this be a forever home? Is it just a stepping stone to a larger homestead and land? Are you just starting a family or are you an empty nester? Makes it a little easier when you have your goals in mind.
For us it was pretty easy because we knew we wanted this to be our last move ever. So we kept that in mind while making lists and also when we started searching.
First we laid out our major Goals:
- Working Homestead large enough so we could raise and grow our own food on.
- Potential to go “Off Grid” eventually.
- Large Kitchen and open concept capabilities – We know how we live, and we live in our kitchen and hearth room. I have no need for a formal living room. I also want to have the space for canning and preserving and having large family gatherings. Want large farmhouse table area for this also.
- Living on one income so price needs to be within that budget.
- 2+ acres – Want to grow our own food and raise chickens and milking goats for food.
- 2+ Bedrooms min. Extra room for office and sewing room. Could be a finished basement also.
- Water on land – Well, pond or even a creek we could tap into. Need for gardens and animals and would like to be able to use well water for ourselves getting off grid in future. If not one existing, is the water shed there to drill one.
- Able to have a produce stand on property without special permitting. (Some towns even require a permit for a garage sale. Geeze!)
LIKE TO HAVE:
- Outbuildings – need to be structurally sound. One for animals, one for workshop/garage
- Alternative Heating options. Wood stove, large pond for geothermal, natural gas on land.
- Trees on property for North wind break and privacy and future heating.
- Fruit and nut trees
- Big front Porch with a swing. 😉
MUST NOT HAVE
- No Oil heating – Unless it can be converted to gas. Dirty, expensive and don’t want to deal with ever again.
- No baseboard heating. Too expensive and not conducive for going off grid later.
- No City ordinances preventing owning animals we want or future goals.
- No neighbors within a stone’s throwing distance. Just done with nosy people peering in my windows.
After expanding on some of these and adding details, here is what our end result was so you can see what I mean. I gave this list to our Realtor also so she would know exactly what we were looking for.
Ideal homestead for us!
Land: Ultimate long term goal is a Homestead (mini farm), and self sufficiency. Getting off Grid eventually.
- 2+ acres min., prefer more – trees good. Not wanting vacant open farm land only. Existing north wind buffer preferred.
- Could build our own home as I do have one designed, but would like utilities at street at least. But not interested in undeveloped farm land only. And looks like land only is really up there now. So thinking better idea is smaller house on land that can have enough space to build 2nd house or renovate existing home.
- Water on land – pond, creek, ditch, or well would be nice for gardens and animals. Could do water recovery off roofs, but prefer on land also. Pond allows for possible geothermal heating/cooling system in future.
- City water is a plus for house for now.
- Prefer a modern barn existing with possible future shop area. Can build one if land allows. But then still need a barn for animals. If old barn, needs to be structurally sound. Metal roof preferred. Electric preferred.
- At least one roof facing south for solar panels. So orientation of house or barn is important.
Home: One that can be renovated to the way we live.
- Good Bones – Structurally sound
- 2+ bedrooms min. Prefer first floor master with private bath or can be renovated for.
- Office space – could be formal dining or living room or a spare bedroom converted.
- Bonus room or room that can be used for Quilt Studio. Up or downstairs. 12’+ wide (or space to add onto home for a 16’x20’). Could be combined with Office if large enough.
- Large kitchen – open concept but can take walls down if laid out right and structurally possible.
- NO oil heating – will eventually go geothermal with Solar bank type of system depending on land and house orientation.
- Prefer to have wood stove in home and/or fireplace that can be converted. Goal is to heat entire home.
- MUST be able to have chickens and small milking goats. Eliminates several Townships in area.
- Land MUST have room for barn, coop and large garden (50,000 SF), small greenhouse and mini orchard (1/4 acre), if not existing. Why a 2 acres min.
- We do not mind at all a fixer upper if bones and land are good.
- Price is dependent on conditions of course. But would like to stay under 160k total. Prefer under 100k with fixer upper so we only need to rely on one outside income until we get future home business established there.
Now the list doesn’t look too bad, but certain towns were eliminated right off the bat because they wouldn’t permit certain animals like owning a rooster or a goat. We knew the general area we were wanting as we wanted to be closer to family. So our first assignment was to find out this information for each town. This took a little bit, but most of the time I found the information on a town’s website or by doing a google search for the town in question. Last resort was calling the town and just asking. You’d be surprised what some town’s have in their ordinances!
Example: One town we were looking at permitted certain animals only in certain zoning areas and none with the Village of that town. (Downtown area). So I had to find out where those were and cross check any For Sale listings we found.
6.04.050 Certain domestic species prohibited. A. No person shall keep within the corporate limits of the Village, either temporarily or permanently, any live bees, fowl, gamecocks and other fighting birds, cows, cattle, horses, sheep, swine, pot-bellied pigs used for breeding purposes, goats, chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, or any other domesticated livestock. No rabbits shall be kept within any portion of any multiple family dwelling. The provisions of this section shall not apply to cows, cattle, horses, sheep, swine, goats, chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, or any other domesticated livestock located on properties in the A-1 (Prime Agriculture), A-2 (Agriculture) or A-3 (Agricultural Holding) zoning districts.
Another town said you could own backyard chickens, but not a rooster. I even found a town that didn’t permit you to have a compost bin on the property. Yea, you’re off my list! Seriously? I can’t compost my kitchen and garden waste in my own backyard? wth?
Just do your homework up front and it will make it much easier to narrow your list of areas.
Next is the actually property searching. This took us over a year to find the property we did and it was under our noses the whole time.
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