What should I know about buying property in the country?
April 16, 2005 9:23 AM   Subscribe

Buying property in the country... Benton County, Oregon that is. What should I know about wells, septic systems, acreage, timber and the like?

I've lived in the city my entire life but I want a little more space (like 5 to 10 acres). I've never had a well on the property or a sewer line that wasn't hooked up to the city's pipes. What all should I know about so that I don't get screwed when I find a place that looks like it is a match for what I want? How many GPM is a good amount for a well? Etc.

Background info - It'd just be me and my girlfriend, no animals but maybe a few down the road, a small garden in mind that might turn into a bigger garden, no interest in harvesting timber for money, (currently looking west of Philomath but within 10 miles for those that know the area).
posted by pwb503 to Home & Garden (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
West of Philomath is the Coast Range, heading for the Pacific (about 55 miles past Philomath). Where there's water, there's usually a proven well..GPM can vary substantially. 5-10 acres is a big chunk of property there. If there's salable timber on the property, it's going to be expensive. You want something that's been logged in the past and is now in "third growth"... the old growth cut a long time ago, the "second growth" cut about 30 years ago, and the current trees will be large enough to satisfy.

The whole area is well-settled; there are few "hidden gems", with the University (Corvallis) so close, anything within 30 miles or so may end up being what you look at.

You need to be in close contact with whoever you're using as a realtor; i'd suggest moving to the area and renting while you look. There's good information online about septic systems; i think i'd start with about.com if i were you. As always when buying in a new area.. heh.. pick a hardware store and make friends with the people there.

I lived in Corvallis and Philomath area for many years; it's a wonderful place; i hope you realize your dream.
posted by reflecked at 11:47 AM on April 16, 2005

Although Measure 37 means that the future of Oregon land use is up in the air, I'd suggest you make sure your property is zoned for residential use just to be sure.

I know of pre-M. 37 families that spent $30,000-up to get a conditional use permit allowing them to live on land zoned for forest use. They had to present a written argument that they could not manage their property without living on it, and they had to come up with a "timber management plan," about how they'd take care of the land while they lived there.

If you find somewhere you'd like to build, talk to other people who live near by and talk to folks with the local watershed council. In most of western Oregon, the rights to water actually exceed the amount of water available. Make sure nearby residents are getting quality water from their wells and that no water-hungry developments are going be sharing your water table.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 1:35 PM on April 16, 2005

Septic systems in some states (Wisconsin I know) are highly regulated. In Wisconsin, I was amazed to discover that the law did not allow a tank system if a very expensive mound system could be built (applicable in low areas with nearby streams).

Usually your lender will see that all legal requirements be in order before they okay your mortgage anyway. I made the mistake of falling in love with a place before learning the horror of septic requirements.

Wells can go bad. You have to consider what is uphill from your well. Agriculture of any kind can pollute your water source, either from manure seepage or chemical fertilizers or herb/pesticides. Earthquake can also destroy your well, either directly or indirectly.
posted by Goofyy at 1:17 AM on April 17, 2005

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