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Still land hunting, so property without a dwelling and/or pond is a distinct possibility. This doesn't bother me as long as the addition of each is not cost prohibitive.

I know cost will vary depending on the area, but how difficult (in general) is it to get electricity and water from the edge of the property line (assuming it is available at the road) through the property onto the site? How much different is the difficulty/cost in burying vs/ stringing along poles?

What about water? I know there's always the possibility of a well, but for the sake of argument, if water is available to the property, assuming a clay/sand soil, are there any big difficulties in taking it across the property?

I would assume there might be a benefit of doing both (and burying) at the same time?

The area I'm looking in is SE/S Central Texas (Washington, Lee, Burleson, Grimes, Fayette, Bastrop counties, etc).

Any experiences with costs in this area?

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I'm not in your area but I can tell you what they charge in my area in NE Minnesota. They have to run power from the nearest transformer and they charge $3.50 per running foot for overhead lines. It adds up fast if you have any distance to cover.

In addition I am responsible for getting any easments they might need to cross other property.

Good luck!

Larry

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If you've got a long run for your electric service, and the Power Company's fee seems prohibitive, check into the costs for alternate service sizes. We have a 900 foot service line in from the road - this was over the Power Company's limit for a "free" 200 Amp service. An old family friend at the Power Company pointed out that a 400 Amp service for this distance would be no charge (I think they figure they're going to sell you more electricity), so that's what we put in. It cost a little more for the hardware I had to buy, but overall we saved money and got a bigger service to boot.


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Paul, as was already mentioned, the power companies have certain criteria to determine cost, if any, that they'll charge to get service to you.

For instance, in PA, if you go with overhead lines, they required a clearing of 32' wide. In PA, we do have icing problems. Going underground with a trench only required 16' of clearance.

Also, the power company had different cost schemes for actually living full time on your property vs. using it as a weekend getaway.

When and if you talk to a power company representative, I would be vague about what you're plans actually are so they can't pigeon hole you into something. This way, they'll have to outline the different options.


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Paul,

In a somewhat similar situation in East Texas, the charge was about $1.60 per foot for a 600 foot run of electricity.

A water well cost us about $4000 with a heavy duty submersible pump capable of supporting our house and 3 acre pond.

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Thanks for the information.

Now if I could just find some land...

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Paul - Bluebonnet CoOp is the powercompany in the area. $2 a foot and $250 a pole with a 30 foot easment - no underground that I am aware of (man I wish). If you build out here, heating will most likely be propane so you will not have outrageous draw in the winter. Summer is a different story, however - don't have to define Africa Hot to you since you are from Houston.

Since you have increased your search area for land, you now have at lease 4 different kinds of dirt in the listed counties. Do your homework first...

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I bought 27 ac south of Lake Somerville 3 yrs ago.
Bluebonnet charged me around $400 (not sure exactly) to put a pole 50 ft on my property, where I wanted it. I had to buy $350, 200 A service box. They wanted to sell it to me for $450. I didn't want the ugly wires next to my pond, so we rented a trencher and burried the rest of the cables and pipes from the water well to the building. Most of that area is clay and holds water very well.

I don't know how much land you are looking for, but be VERY CAREFUL about the tax classification.
I am taxed as non-residential and I pay over $1500 in tax every year. This year they increased the value of my property over 30% (max 10% increase applies only to homestead), so that will be $2000/yr tax. You have to have 15ac minimum (20ac is possible starting next year) to qualify for agricultural exemption and you have to have receipts proving agricultural use for the last 5 years. I could have had a nice pond for the money I am wasting on taxes. But I guess that is why I got the land at roughly half it's value.

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Thanks Ed. That certainly sounds reasonable. Cheaper than a fence anyways.

As far as taxes, ideally I'd like to lease (or even just let) to someone who needs the land for cattle or other agriculture, and allow me to take the ag exemption and the tax breaks that come with it.

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The key is the 5 years of high taxes if you buy land that is not ag exempt already. Typical government. I asked them - Since I am required to show proof that I used it for agriculture for 5 years before I get the exemption, do I get retroactive exemption for those 5 yrs? You can guess the answer.

Good Luck with your search.

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PAULR, Have you considered east of you, into the Big Thicket area. Jim

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I'm not as concerned with actual name on a map as I am with proximity to Houston, good soil (or existing lake), and the actual property itself (decent terrain - I'm sick of the Houston flatlands).

You have any leads?

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Still flat where I'm at!

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Yeah. My grandmother sold her ranch in Junction and moved back to Saratoga for a few years before we had to bring her to Houston to finish out her days.

I guess I could deal with the flatness...provided I'm thick in the trees and it doesn't look like the Katy Prarie or Abilene. But I'd still prefer some terrain.

This is probably ideal for me....although too far away from Houston



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That is NICE.

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Yeah, and 30 acres @ $58,500 (or less) is certainly doable...but Possum Kingdom is a lot closer to Dallas than it is Houston.

\:\(

I can continue to dream, though.

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Hey PaulR, watch it ! My Pop is a native from the La Grange area...geez, it hurts to imagine the times he had ! lol, anyway...back to my point. I have land 65 miles east of Abilene, and it mirrors Hill Country, my Pop's land with a 2 acre pond is worth 3x per my acre, but where I'm at is beautiful, NOT flat. Anyone who's gone up I-20 thru Ranger Hill can appreciate the scenic beauty. It's the last land in Texas that's a bargain, and I've seen a 2x increase in value the last 4 years. Enough said, here's my advice...keep looking, get something that's perfect. If you spend twice the effort up front, you'll see more property, but get that "feeling" when something looks perfect. I bought my place without water, took a long time saving up for a dam, and now I finally have my first crop of "fish". My pond will grow 5x given rainfall, but it's all been worth the time spent looking. Most of all, be patient ! Second, LISTEN ! You'll be suprised at the things people say describing their land. p.s. If you plan on building, go to http://terraserver-usa.com and poke around, find your property, and calculate your watershed area, it's easy with the topo maps.
Good Luck ! It's an investment you'll never regret. lol, unless you get bullheads and green sunfish ! \:\)

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Eastland, are you poking fun at me with the bullheads and green sunfish? I resemble that remark!

You are so right about being patient and getting that feeling about a piece of property. I saved ahead and had some money on the side, waiting to start pond construction the moment I closed the deal. After the stock market tanked, people started investing in something that is more difficult to loose and land prices took off. The grassland NW of Houston is getting carved up into 10-20ac "ranchettes" and people are building some nice houses out there. If I don't get this ag exemption in couple of years, I may not be able to afford the taxes on the place. In 5 yrs I will end up paying about 15% of the purchase value in taxes. Welcome to Taxes, I mean Texas.

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There is one more thing I thought of... Pay attention to the vegetation during mid - late summer. If you want to grow your veggies, or food plots for deer, you want to make sure that the area gets enough water during summer. I didn't get a drop from end of May to mid September last year. I saw the rains going through on the weather channel, but when I got there I didn't have a drop in my rain gauge. I picked out the property in Feb, closed in May.

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Ed, Look into a Wildlife exemption. The State of Texas allows it and the NRCS in Montague County does it. You need some small food plots, birdhouses, etc. I don't have one but was told by the NRCS that it was no problem.

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Ed

The county (state) requires that you have an agricultrial exemption in place b4 you can qualify for a wildlife exemption. Catch 22.

Hang in there Ed good things come to those who wait(and plan).

I am starting to look into getting a Wildlife exemption on my land outside of Brenham (Round Top / Burton area).

Does anyone know a web site or who to contact about the exact requirements for qualifying for the wildlife exemption? I have 85 acres in Washington County and 1/10 of an acre in Fayette County, 2 acre pond that is 3 years old.

What are the negatives (if any) to having a wildlife exemption.

Don Stuart

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Don,
There are no negatives to Wildlife Managment (1d1)!!! It is good for the land, good for the animals, and good for the soul. The program is protected forever by the State Consitution so it will never go away. You will get the same tax break as AG. Most importantly, Wildlife Management is under the authority of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept. -- NOT THE COUNTY YOU ARE IN!!! if they give you any grief, sick the wildlife biologist on them -- it is his baliwick. The link is TPWD Wildlife Managment
The Wildlife guys are very supportive and want you to succeed. You can also find the TPWD Wildlife Biologist from this link. We have been on it for two &1/2 years and all of our doe have had twins each spring since we changed the environment that existed before we purchased the place. The wildlife is really responding. Food plots are easy and fun to watch the results. The overall program is not hard and you would do most of it anyway. I encourage you to make the change over - do not have to wait until the end of the year. Best.

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Can you have both AG and wildlife exemption or do you have to give up the AG? Gov't programs sometimes get cancelled. Ag seems to have a more lasting quality.

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Wildlife Management under Texas Parks and Wildlife is a sub-part (1-d-1) of Ag 1-d. You are still Ag and have the same tax break (I paid $162 in tax last year for 200+ acres) and you give up nothing. Wildlife Management can not go away - it has been protected by a constitutional amendment (Ag is a constitutional amendment as well). It will not go away and is not a "govt. program" that will dry up at the whim of a yahoo in the next budget cycle.

It is simply an acknowledged, by the State of Texas, way for a land owner to put back into the land instead of pulling out of the land and still get the same tax credit for working hard on the land to benifit the whole state (farming, ranching, or, increasing the quality of wildlife that will spread to surrounding area and increase the health of the overall populations without running cattle, goats -heaven forbid- or, llamas).

You can still have Bessie, but this gives you another option and credit for what you are probably doing anyway. Now you can eliminate some overhead if you wish. See the link above and it will give the particulars.

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Is solar or wind power an option? High initial cost, but I imagine you have some quality sunshine and wind down there you might be able to harness.


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