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#559 05/28/04 02:54 PM
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I'm just about to get started looking for at least 20+ acres in the Brenham/Chappell Hill area of SE Central Texas.

Main interest is a recreation area for the family and friends (camping, fishing,waterfowl hunting, etc). Of course would like as much water as possible, but realistically probably looking at two acres or so.

Am starting out getting a better feel for location and size - how much I think I want and where I want it.

Haven't given a whole lot of thought into much more than that yet (presence of groundwater on the site, springs, wells, vegetation, soil types, etc).

I plan on spending a whole lot of time on this site, especially after the land purchase, but I'm hoping to get some suggestions and input to help push me along the learning curve while land-hunting.

Any specific questions I should be asking...especially about existing ponds on the properties?

Should a biologist be brought in before closing on any land that has existing surface water?

#560 05/28/04 07:03 PM
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Paul, 20 acres is just right to support a 1.5-2 acre pond in your area...that is "if" the watershed flows right, you should have close to 40" annual rainfall. You don't have a problem if you buy an established pond, but you're going to pay a LOT more if quality water already exists. If you go that route, pay more attention to the water depth, natural structure, and most of all watch for drainage/leaky pond, you want a depth of at least 12 feet. The last thing you want to do is buy in late Spring, only to find that in August your pond is 1/2 it's size. Look at the prices quoted on this site for building a pond, it's not cheap, or guaranteed to hold water. But, if you do your homework, building is the way to go. First, start out by checking out all the small newspapers/real estate offices. It's not uncommon to find property that needs to be developed. The cost of bringing in a dozer to construct a dam is around $60 per hour, and you have excellent soil/clay throughout your area. If you find land with a draw, you could do it for 5-7 K easily...adding a LOT more than that to the value of your land, if you have the patience and time.

#561 05/28/04 08:21 PM
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Thanks Russel

Of course I want as big as I can afford, but I need to just get out there and get a better feel for acreage. I understand that an acre is approximately 75% of a football field, but land isn't cut up in nice easy to see rectangles. Once I can find a balance between acreage and cost I can delve into the specifics.

I'm just not too familiar with rural land and specifically the purchase procedures.

Thanks for the input.

#562 05/28/04 08:32 PM
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Paul, one more thing...you might try www.overtonfisheries.com They were based in Bryan/College Station before they recently moved to Buffalo. I'm sure they have a ton of contacts in your area that would interest you.

#563 06/01/04 07:37 AM
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Thanks again Russel. I contacted Todd and he says that they are backed up on stockings, and should have more free time around July.

The land hunt continues...

#564 06/04/04 01:28 PM
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Hi Paul, welcome to the Oak Prairie. Our place is one county to the West in Lee Co. There are some good resources in the area. We put our pond in last Aug and have had a blast. We had some fine dirt pushers help with the process and I can get you their info if you want it. Another topic, is your potential property under Ag exemption now? If so and you don't want to run cows - very difficult with that size of place and they need more attention that just weekend visits - Investigate a subchapter of Ag called Wildlife Management (1-d-1), (all info on Texas Parks & Wildlife website). You basically do good things for the land and animals that poplulate your land and you get to keep the huge tax benifits (plus, it is really good for the soul). I don't know the Parks & Wildlife Biologist for that county, but I can get the info from ours. They are very helpful and have a wealth of resources at their disposal. Having them walk the land with you before you buy might be a good idea. They have a grip on what is going on in the area and what troubles (if any) are brewing.

Good luck,
Shannon Bower
shannonb@bowerhelicopter.com

#565 06/04/04 01:59 PM
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Thanks for the information Shannon. I'd appreciate any referrals you'd like to give.

We haven't found any property yet. We're still trying to find something with a good size pond/lake on it (really want 10+ acres of water, but would probably take at least 4), but have just about reserved ourselves that we're probably going to have to buy raw land and do our own work.

How large is your pond? From your experience, did the cost per acre decrease as the acreage increased? Do you mind if I ask what you paid per acre?

I'd appreciate the name of the people who did the work for you.

#566 06/04/04 05:09 PM
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Paul, our pond is just over one surface acre, but we go down to about 14 feet in a good part of the pond. We pushed for the month of August using 2 D-7's and one stout John Deere tractor. What fun. $85 an hour is pretty standard.

I agree that you are probably going to have to start out fresh. If you buy land with existing water, you will pay for it as well - pay now or pay later, but get it the way you want it if you do it yourself. I'd keep NCRS out of the mix - they seem to only want to do square ponds in our neighborhood, and you don't have to have their involvement for credit with Wildlife Management(our tax assesment office agent was really pushing that they had to be involved until they were put in charge of a pond on his dad's place - his tune has changed significantly now).

Robert Alexander was the guy that helped us (979-884-0444). He is a craftsman of the highest order and one of the hardest working humans I have ever met. He has two dozers and calls in a friend that has two big dozers for the serious work. They all know their stuff and know the local dirt. Robert also really likes trees and won't push one over if it can be helped. Tell him that I sent you.

10 acres is a lot of water and alot of pushing, unless you have a gully, gulch, or other significant land mass that avoids a lot of dirt moving. We had to make a hole with no significant aforementioned land mass, thus, a month of pushing and only one acre.

The Texas Parks&Wildlife Biologist for Lee County is Greg Pleasant 979-773-9043. He can get you the name of the guy in your county. They will come out and rub the leaves in their fingers and give you a good idea of what the land can support and how in could be improved in the future to support of wildlife. Good for them, good for you, and good for the wildlife.

Best,
Shannon.

#567 06/09/04 08:40 AM
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Paul,

Tarpondriver is right on the mark. See my response under your utilities question. ( I didn't notice this topic )

As you drive NW on 290, you will notice signs for Leroy Hodde real estate. That is who sold me my place. He was very helpful to an aspiring redneck like me. In Washington Co. you are looking anywhere between 3 - 10 K/ac. for raw land.

I already built one 3/4 ac pond that will be enlarged, and I have 2 more natural sites for ponds. I thought I had three, but as I spoke with the dozer contractor this Monday, a guy that leases the neighboring property showed up and started talking to us. He works for Washington Co. road and bridge. He told us that about every 3 yrs. there is a flood that goes through that gully and at least 5 or more feet above it.
I would need a concrete dam, or one that is 100' thick (300' wide property). Even with that, my fish would get flushed out every 3 yrs. My dream 4 ac pond died that quickly, but it saved me lot of money.

Make sure your family is aware of Texas wildlife and that they are willing to put up with it. I was hoping to give my family and friends place in the country where kids can run, fish and climb trees, but after warning them of Chickers, snakes, skorpions and spiders, not many showed up.
The neighbors kids and one of my daughters run around barefoot, but they grew up around these things.

The ridges of hills around Lake Somerville (between the lake and Independence Trail) are slowly getting parcelled out. You get beautiful view of the lake.

#568 06/09/04 09:01 AM
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Thanks Shannon. I called Robert while we were out in the area last Saturday and picked his brain for a little bit. I'll definitely give him a call should we locate something in the area.

Ed,

I know what you mean. I'm still scratching (I know you're not supposed to) all the Chigger bites I got from last Saturday when we were looking at a property near Ledbetter - probably not too far from your place.

I've met with Tiffany Compton at Hodde Realty. She was actually the first contact we had and showed us the first property. I like their listings (as well as Heritage Country Properties), and have asked her to let us know of anything that becomes available that we may be interested in...but I'm not too confident that will happen.

I'm starting to give more thought to heading a little East...due to both lower prices per acre and increasing presence of ducks. Although I'd prefer to head NW (largely due to the fact that I live on the W side of Houston), for the right property, it really doesn't matter too much as long as it's no more than about a two hour drive.

Ledbetter would have been perfect, but the property we looked at was a little too flat and open. That area (where you are) should provide some good duck hunting due to the proximity to Somerville.

I've driven around the lake and a lot of those areas would be nice. Any other realtors or available properties you're aware of in the area?

Thanks again,

Paul

#569 06/10/04 12:55 PM
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Happy to help.

I expect that you have now figured out why everyone wears jeans or BDU's out in the country... You will also want to buy stock in the manufacturers of OFF! (I think it is SC Johnson...)

#570 06/10/04 01:15 PM
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Hell. I was wearing boots, socks and Dockers. Actually I can't even remember if I took a shower that night...I was so tired when I got home.

So I've got my outfit ready for this weekend. \:D



#571 06/10/04 05:32 PM
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That is a nice look, Spaceman Spiff - to infinity and beyond!!! You will go far in the pondmeister business.

#572 06/10/04 05:36 PM
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Yeah...and with what I've got in those barrels...I'll be pulling up fish like this in no time.



#573 06/10/04 05:38 PM
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Very Scary...How do you do that???

#574 09/07/06 01:37 PM
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Well, 2+ years later and I'm still looking. Probably being too picky. Have pretty much been concentrating on land with existing ponds/lakes, but have always managed to find enough drawbacks on the ones I've liked to never make a closing.

So now I'm starting to fall back on the side of the fence as far as building my own pond/lake goes.

But I guess I'm just very concerned with 1) buying a piece of property that I think is ideal, and later finding out that the soil isn't suitable for the size pond I'd really want; and 2) the water source. If I'm going to invest this kind of money into a larger pond, I'm going to want to ensure it always has water in it. So that means either a spring or a well. $10,000 on a well wouldn't worry me too much, if the soil question was answered, and provided I didn't have to spend $100 a month running a continuous well.

#575 09/07/06 08:48 PM
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Don't give up on looking. A land investment is long term, you might find a place without all the improvements, but you can have loads of fun making those improvements. Of course, I don't know how old you are (and how much time you have to invest). :-)

I was able to buy a larger piece of land than I started looking for, with no improvements, and have since enjoyed (ahem...) building my own pond and making my own improvements. There have been huge headaches like waiting 14 months to have a contractor finally get it dug, and watching for 6 months while only minimal rain has barely kept a couple of feet of water in the pond, but what an experience, and what memories.

And, not to worry, you should be able to determine if a piece of property has enough watershed, and good enough soils to support a pond, if you do your homework, or get some help from the friendly pond folks here.


3/4 acre pond
#576 09/08/06 04:48 AM
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P-J has a good point real estate is all about location, so you might try looking for an ideal pond location as opposed to a great home location. Bottom land, low lying land that accumulates water during the rainy season,land that gullys and washes. What you save on land cost can convert into improvements. Dams, spillways, house pads etc. Rememeber you can lead water to a pond but you can't lead a pond to water.


1/4 & 3/4 acre ponds. A thousand miles from no where and there is no place I want to be...
Dwight Yoakam
#577 09/08/06 06:15 AM
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I believe you're going to keep on having trouble finding Shangri-La. I'm not sure that 20 acres with a 4 to 10 acre pond exists; or even a suitable spot to build that pond. Even if you find it, you are going to be dependent on a neighbor for runoff. I would worry about that. I would worry a lot.

You might need to refine your thinking to a larger place with more acreage. The price per acre of a small tract can be a killer. If you look at total cost of a 20 acre place as versus 100 or more acres, I think you might be surprised.

You might also need to broaden your search regarding area. Central Texas is expensive.


It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.

Boy, if I say "sic em", you'd better look for something to bite. Sam Shelley Rancher and Farmer Muleshoe Texas 1892-1985 RIP
#578 09/08/06 07:59 AM
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Paul,

I'd like to add a slightly different, well intended view to the excellent ones above.

Some folks may be able to find the perfect place the first time every time...but I was not one of them, and in fact do not know any of those folks.

I'm of the opinion, that better is often the enemy of good. Sure, do your homework, find the best place you can, but view it all as a journey and not a destination.

It would be a sad thing for me to see someone in search of perfection fail to realize the joys of country living. I learned a great deal from my first property and ponds...they were not perfection, and certainly not what I really wanted, but I came to know what I really wanted through that first property...and made a bunch of money off selling it to boot! ;\)

#579 09/08/06 10:43 AM
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Perseverance!

My wife and I spent a year and a half finding a place. We looked at a few dogs, a lot of also-rans, and a couple of close-but-not-quites before we found the right place at the right price. We ended up buying empty acreage with nothing but old fence, after not finding existing houses/barns we could live with (and afford).

We have spent a lot of time and effort putting in everything we want (and are still working on it, for 20 years come September 18), but have enjoyed bulding it at least as much as having it be home.


"Live like you'll die tomorrow, but manage your grass like you'll live forever."
-S. M. Stirling
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#580 09/08/06 03:53 PM
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Thanks for the input.

I've definitely kept my options open as far as acreage size goes (and would actually prefer larger) as well as budget. But I guess it's just hard to get a feel for how well a property will hold water while looking at the listings on the internet. It's quite a bit of work to get a topo out of some of these realtors.

But I have been keeping my eyes open for properties without...but have been trying to focus on properties with.

I've found some very very nice properties, but each time I really get my hopes up, there's a dealkiller.

Like this one:

http://www.trrn.com/detail.asp?PropID=33692

I was all set to go look at it tomorrow with high hopes until my realtor got ahold of the listing agent and found out the property was once a part of a 40 acre tract which had been split 3 ways...with each having frontage on the pond/lake. And that's not something I want.

So still searching...just somewhat less patiently.

#581 09/08/06 04:32 PM
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Actually, I'd prefer to start out with raw land...build my own pond the way I want to, and build the cabin that I want...

But I'm just scared that I'll find what I believe to be the perfect property, get started and find out that I can't build the pond I want because the soil or water just isn't there.

I guess I could always sell and hope the property appreciates...but to be safe, I've really been focusing on property that already has water so there's no guessing as far as that goes.

But that's admittedly restricted the available property.

#582 09/08/06 06:14 PM
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I bought 150 acres for less than the list price on the place you posted a link to above, but it had no improvements. However, my pond is down in a low spot, near a drainage which drains 1200 acres! Look for something like that and you won't have to worry about water (except in years like this one).

Again, it isn't that hard to know if the property will be able to hold water or not, with a little educated kicking of the dirt so to speak, noticing ponds (or not) on neighboring properties, and talking to knowledgeable folks.


3/4 acre pond
#583 09/09/06 08:42 PM
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I would suggest looking into the Texas Veterans Land Board web site. They have land auctions 2 times a year in April and October. I was able to purchase 16.7 acres for $1,750 per acre for a total price of $28,500. They have some stipulations as to who can purchase their reposed properties but if you qualify or have a very close friend or relative that qualifies. (You could purchase it through them.) Have them purchase it and than go through a bank to buy it from them. I was able to take the 28K property and build a 150k house on it than it was appraised at 375k. Remember the key to good real estate is Location, Location, Location. The property I brought is within 2000 feet of Lake Livingston. In my option any land purchase must be looked at as an investment you have to look at it and ask yourself if needed can you turn your investment and at least get your money back if not make some. You also must remember that no piece of property is perfect which means that you have to make lemonade from lemons. Here is a example of a piece of property they have for sale on their website. Here is a link to their website.

http://www.glo.state.tx.us/vlb/traxii/index.html

Forfeited Land Sale Tracts Search ResultsYour query of LEON returned 1 records.
Tract #: 12719 County: LEON

Total Acreage: 14.00 Minimum Bid: $ 24,000.00
Mineral Rights: The buyer needs to check County Deed Records to determine what, if any, mineral rights exist.
Legal Description: Ramon De La Svy., A-8, Tract #10-A, Dated 5/9/86, Vol. 633, Page 723. Tax ID#: 09950-01400-00000-000000. Lat/Long: N31 18' 33.8" / W095 47' 05.4".
Acct #: 118237
Tract Dimensions: A=1043.20; B=575.11; C=1082.66; D=573.75
Location: In Centerville, at SH 7/SH 75, E on SH 7 for 11.9 mile; turn right on CR 149 & go 0.2 mi to a "T"; turn left at "T" on CR 149 & go about 0.1 mi to a "Y"; take right fork (CR 149) & go 0.9 mi to a "T" of CR 149/CR 148; turn right on CR 148 & go 0.4 mi to a "T" of CR 148/PR 1425; turn right on PR 1425 & go 200/300 ft to the tract on the left (S) side of PR 1425; flood plain at the rear of tract.

Here is a to a posting I made with some photos of my place.
http://www.pondboss.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=000184 :p


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