Should we buy? Farm Layout

Hi all! Last time I posted we were looking at buying some undeveloped land and you were all so helpful with setting it all up. Unfortunately the land fell through due to the well being messed up from a previous owner. Thankfully we were able to find a place to rent that has some pasture for all of the horses. The current owner has offered to let us buy the property so I thought I would turn to this forum for some advice and land layout help lol.
Some facts about the property, it is 9.38 acres and the house was built in 1952. If we bought the property, we would definitely tear the house down. It has been renovated too badly to come back from and it is just a mess. The land is completely flat with a slight slope to the right of the property. So far with all of our flooding and rain the soil has stayed pretty firm and has drained nicely. We are located in Western Washington.

This is the current layout of the land. I tried to point out and describe everything of importance. Please let me know of anything that I missed that you would like to know about.
Currently we have access to the orange pasture which is supporting out 3 horses. It is about 1-1.5 acres. It is not ideal but it is what we are working with currently. The yellow is how all of the pastures are divided at the moment.
So my main areas I need help with are:

  • We are thinking about putting a house in the far left corner of the property once we would tear down the house in red. Or should we keep it where it is now?
  • Move the round pen in between the current house and barn or leave it where it is?
  • I would need a arena but I am unsure where to put it. It would be about 100x200 hopefully more like 150x200 but who knows.
  • How would you divide the pastures for the best access and easy maneuvering for switching pastures.
  • Not sure where to really do trailer parking. I have a 3 horse trailer at the moment an it fits next to the house but is very annoying to back up and leave again.
  • Overall the property is very disorganized and we would completely redo the fences so any layout help would be amazing lol
  • Any other advice?

Thank you so much!!

City water or well? Location of well, age, pump size, etc. Is it big enough for your current needs and future wants?Are you going to want any pasture irrigation? Are you pleased with the watering setup for the horses?

Any potential EPA-type things, like buried oil tanks and such?

City sewer system or a septic tank? If septic system I assume it is at 1950’s house. New house location will likely require a new system and leach field up to current codes.

Electrical system I would imagine would need an upgrade as well. Wiring these days is expensive to run. Where is the electric feed for the property located?

Basically, is the infrastructure for the farm in good shape, or will it need some of the things I mentioned above.

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Beside a fence, horse pastures need water. Consider that.


This is on City water. It is big enough for what we have currently, the 3 horses, and I would never want more the 5 or 6 horses so this would suite us. There is no buried oil tanks or anything. You are correct in assuming it has a septic tank. It is currently right behind the house. The power is coming from power poles so it is not underground. The infrastructure is actually pretty good considering the age and how it has been treated. It just generally needs to be redone layout wise to suite our needs versus the current land owner.

I do know about the water. We would want a dry lot for night and pasture during the day so figuring out how make the water accessible to the pastures without having a tub in each field is one of my challenges. They have water in the barn though.

What does “far left corner” mean? Top left, bottom left?
Are their roads on both sides of this lot? Or is the one on the right just the driveway of whatever is next door? By moving the house closer to the left aren’t you putting the house closer to the road?
Where is the existing septic and will you be putting in a new septic system?

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The top Left. Logistically speaking, It would be easier to just tear down the house and build a new one with the current septic system. We are just throwing around the idea of where to put things. The existing septic is directly behind the current house, right there by the back door. In the image, the house is facing the road(looking at the word google) It oversees the front pasture. Yes we would be putting it closer to the road if we moved to the back left corner but it is a private easement and only about 3 other people live on the road. Currently the house is within full view of the road with no privacy.

This is something along the lines of what I was thinking. The property is shaped weird and I am having a hard time coming up with the best way to make turnout from the pasture easier. I would like to try and set up something where I can open a single gate and they can have access to that pasture and drylot all day long. This way I could just shut them in the drylot at night.

If the septic system is as old as the house it’s entirely possible that they will make you replace it anyway when you go to get the permits for building the new house.

Make sure you are allowed to place the house and barn in the configuration you are thinking about. Here they want all accessory structures “behind” the house. So if you put the house in the wrong place it restricts what else you can build.


Assuming this map reads like all maps, with North up - So there is a road South of the house (down by the word Google) and the road on the West side (left) is a private drive? So by moving the house to the back corner you are moving it further from the road.
Are there utilities run down the private drive or will you have to run utilities to the new location? Running utilities gets very pricey very quickly, that is why I ask. The cost of running utilities was why we ended up not buying one lot we looked at when we were shopping.

I like lots of things about the layout that @OTTB_Chick did.
If you move the house to the back corner that will also make you getting from the house to the barn a longer travel route. I am not sure if that is a good thing or bad thing to you.

So far from what I have researched in our county we would be allowed to put the house anywhere we want. I definitely will look into whether or not we would have to replace the septic system. I have no clue how old it is.

Yes, the west road is private. The road south(by google) is the public road. The road east is also another private road that I am unsure whether or not we have rights to, I will be looking into that. I wouldn’t mind a longer route to the barn as I could live in the barn if I wanted to. I still would like a house though as my elderly parents could always move into it. The layout that I drew is very rough lol. Definitely needs some fine tuning. The utilities run all the way along the road so moving them would not be a problem.

I would contact your county (assuming you are in a non-incorporated part of the county) development department to explore what options you have for things like tearing down, building new, placement of ag buildings, etc. Our county has a lot of restrictions on such things and it is not nearly as strict as some other areas of this state (I’m also in WA). Ag buildings, so any new barns or arena structures, would have to be 50’ from property lines on all sides, for instance (in my county…yours may be different). There might be environmental constraints as well. So best to get that figured out before you commit, in case you can’t do all that you want to do.

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So far all I am seeing is that “As with other animals, structures used to house or feed the horses must maintain a setback of 30 feet from all property lines” I am in Snohomish county. I will have to move the arena as you are correct with the setback of at least 50 ft. I wonder if that would include a roundpen? I am technically zoned R5 according to my little research lol.

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Another thing to check is if you build a new house are there rules that you then have to follow. For example, where I live there is a minimum square footage and a garage is required.

Make sure you can relocate the septic. We very nearly bought a 10 acres place that had a failed septic and literally the lot didn’t perc anywhere else except the front yard.

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This is a place in my town built on a long 10 acre lot. She chose to put house and barn close to one end, and pastures are long and skinny but all link to the back of the barn. Just posted to give you something to think about.


Once you get some general ideas I think your best bet is to go over things with a local contractor who is familiar with the zoning/permit process (for those weird things others have mentioned since the rules can vary widely based on if you’re grandfathered in for improvements or if you’d be held to the latest requirements) and dealing with the local utilities (cost/ability to relocate things).

And as fourfillies noted if you want to relocate the septic be sure to do a perc test - you may be limited to where the new one can go. We wound up having to take down 30 mature trees because that was the only place we could put our mound (which was 20k and is what we need based on our soil type).

Also financing and taxes - I know in my area tearing down/rebuilding can lead to a GIANT increase in property taxes so people often get creative in keeping a certain portion of the original older structure in order to keep a similar tax base rather than starting over. Financing can be complex depending on if you want to finance the rebuild at the same time as the initial purchase or have it be a phased approach.

This isn’t intended to rain on your parade - it’s fantastic that you have the opportunity to purchase something with the ability to do some research ahead of time. :smiley:

Thank you! This really helps. We definitely are throwing around the idea of moving or redoing the driveway to make accessing the pasture easier as well as moving and parking the trailers.

Thank you so much! We definitely will work with a local contractor. The neighbor behind us actually owns a construction business as well as the one to the west so we definitely have options lol. I will look in to the property taxes, thank you! I think that we are going to see how the property weathers over the winter before making our decision since we get such a wet winter and hate mud. I just need to figure out the layout lol.

I threw together another layout with moving the arena back 50ft from the property line. Still figuring out the dry lot size and accessing the pastures easily.

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After a look at your draft plan, I believe that you will want a larger arena. But it is looking good. The farm view I posted earlier does not have an arena, as she is located just across the road from community riding arenas. The fenced off area about midway down the right-hand pasture is trailer parking accessed through from the back pasture gate from the road at the top of the picture. So the trailer doesn’t use the house and barn front driveway.

The place just sold and is now empty. I am wondering if the new owners will be making modifications to the plan.

How do or will you handle manure and bedding disposal?

Thank you, I definitely want as large of a arena as possible for the property but it is okay if it is smaller. We have a few nice big arenas around us. So far the is a manure pile in the pasture North of where I would want trailer parking. It is working for the owners 6 horses currently(She has way too many lol) so I just plan on putting some cement blocks and making a actual dumping area. We want to put in more gates for trailer parking so we don’t have to use the main driveway since it is a 90 degree turn and very tight even with my medium sized bumper pull.

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If you need high speed internet, or other utilities, make sure it’s available to your specific property, and you check with the cable company for that. If you need great cell service, then go and check out the service on different areas of the property. I’m doubting that an old septic field will be usable. Go check with the county or whoever supervises that property about set backs, and any other restrictions. Confirm the zoning in person too, don’t take anyone’s word for that except the zoning officials.

Find out if there are any easements, or other issues with the property.

Just because the current owner has six horses, check that with zoning also. Make sure the current owner isn’t grandfathered in, and you won’t be.