RESILIENT HOUSE- suburban homestead 3

Suburban homestead 3

HOW DOES THIS MAKERESILIENT?

Being a home owner of a house that lets us produce something gives us more options than just renting. We have more options and more opportunities by owning a home-we just have to find one that will allow the opportunities to happen and not hinder it. No HOAs, reasonable city regulations and some land.


We are still looking for a property in the Dallas area that is suitable for a suburban homestead approach. To summarize what I am looking for in general, here’s a quote from the last post:

Our approach is more of a suburban homestead solution. We’ll live in a suburb in the Dallas area, I can commute to work and grow some of our own food. So far, I have whittled down my requirements to the following:

  1. good solar orientation for growing food
  2. good solar orientation for cold weather
  3. freedom within local laws to have some livestock
  4. space in the yard to grow food (preferrably in the backyard)
  5. space in the yard to grow something for market/sale
  6. fireplace for heating
  7. brick exterior preferred
  8. parking for 2 cars to protect us from hail (which we are still dealing with in one vehicle)
  9. distance from any facility/farm that can cause health concerns or dangers
  10. not if a flood zone

I also use this great link from www.backyardchickens to do a quick check if the house I am looking at is in a city that allows chickens

http://www.backyardchickens.com/atype/3/Laws

After doing a quick check thru backyardchickens.com, if the city is okay with chickens, then I go and read the rest of the city’s regulations by searching these 2 keywords in Google – “municode” and the name of the city.

backyard chicken city regulations search

Doing this gives me a quick preview of the city laws and how laid back or how controlling the local regulations might be.

As an example, this week we ventured farther South of Dallas into Mesquite. Mesquite promotes itself as the “rodeo capital of Texas”. My wife explored several homes there which I mapped out from closest to furthest. She loved it and still raves about the great homes. However, that night after exploring the homes in that city, we did the search noted above and we learned that Mesquite does not allow chickens. You even need permits for horses in some cases. Honestly I found this hypocritical for a city that promotes itself as having freedom. So, just like that we crossed out hypocritical cowboy suburbs from our options.


HOUSE NO. 3

We were blessed to find multiple homes today that worked. We found one in Sachse and a few in Garland.

I will focus on a house we found in Sachse.

Suburban homestead 3

 

It has been really difficult finding a house which has at least 0.20 acres. After that frustrating day in Mesquite my wife zeroed in on several properties with the right lot size and found this house in Mesquite. It met most of the requirements above but the yard was in the wrong side of the house from growing something. The rear yard was facing east and was covered in trees. The front yard was a lawn facing the west side.If I was going to grow food and have chickens in this front yard it was going to take some work. Mainly because it would be too hot and the front yard because of the western sun and with chickens it may mean I need to make the coop more “attractive”.

 

Driving there I was glad to see several neighborhood houses that did not have a manicured front yard. Old cars parked on the front for repairs, unmanicured lawns- these are good signs for me as it means you can do what you want and the city will not bother you.

The house did not look that interesting on the outside. It was a real downer the first time I saw it with the front lawn eating up all the space.


INTERIORS

We went inside the house on Saturday-they had a scheduled open house period. The interiors was all done up. All we had to do was move in our stuff and I could get straight to working on my exterior improvements. The house price obviously reflected this, but the main benefits to me were obvious:

  • save time on improving the interiors ourselves
  • save time and get ahead on improving the exterior and I may get my garden up this season
  • all the new things installed are working and have warranties
  • wife is super happy about the house and this will keep her happy for a long time

The disadvantages for this are:

  • we pay for the big bump up in the house value due to the improvements which we can do ourselves (we also pay the interest on all of that)
  • we do not have any memories on doing the project
  • I will have to be creative with my exterior improvements
  • the rear yard still is not a great size and is not the greatest for solar orientation

We asked a ton of questions on this house while the agents were there. Got lots of answers too. I finally got to see the backyard as well during the day and looked for some spots for a potential garden. I ran a scenario in my head how we could make this work:

Given that the house is close to the price range we would pay for the other options we were willing to make offers on, I accepted the price. We would not be making money from this house when we sell it later-at least not as much money if we did the renovations ourselves.

My wife would love the home, and would keep her inspired and give her a feeling of contentment. She might get started on her hobbies as she gets inspired by the house. This would be great as life is amazing when your spouse is happy.

suburban homestead privacy bamboo
An example of bamboo screening for privacy

My wife suggested enclosing the front yard with bamboo. I liked the idea. This would take time and probably be about 2 years for there to be enough bamboo density for me to work with. Given that I will likely spend the 1st year just finding a spot for a long term garden, the 2 years should go by fast. I can focus on other projects til the bamboo is ready.


THE REAR YARD-MY SPACE FOR POTENTIAL PRODUCTION

The rear yard can hold my chickens. The ground is sparse. This is a sign that the yard does not get great sun-at least I think so. It is like my current house in Plano. This might not work for a garden. I did pick out a corner which had some good sun when we were there. The question was how long that sunlight would last through the day and throughout the year. I saw it in March, where would this shade be in August when it fries my garden?

suburban homestead
Sketch of a creek behind the rear yard

The rear yard is adjacent to a creek. I imagine this might have some bugs living in it andI can have my chicken coop right up against the fence. Any bugs wandering into the coop would add to my chicken’s diet. They would need to be in a coop in pretty much all the cities we looked at. This would also protect them from any animals coming from the creek. The creek was also in an easement-I would use this distance as part of the required clearance from the coop to the adjacent homes. I can make this work I thought.

The property has a line for natural gas. It’s not hooked up to the stove, but at least I will only need to extend plumbing to other appliances from the fireplace. Natural gas as a utility is a very resilient system and great for saving utility bills. You can connect them to a generator with some work, and they can provide you with good cheap heat even when you lose electricity.

The rear yard would also have space for a rain water storage solution and a great place for a small aquaponics set up. Both of these sound attractive to me because of previous failures growing in the ground.


CONCLUSION

The house was very attractive and turns out had already picked up 10 offers in that one Saturday. I imagine the competition was very high for it because of the interiors and because of the price for that house in that city.

Even though I had some ways planned out in my head on how to make the poor solar orientation and lot layout work for me, I think me and my wife both agree we should not offer on the house. We will put in our work and improve the interiors and we can pocket the savings and the profit. We also would have to raise the price high to compete with the other offers. This house is just a bit too hot for us to get. And, even if we offer high on it, the appraised value may not work for the seller of the house and us having to come up with the remaining balance.
The great thing though, is instead of just relying on finding a house with the correct lot layout, going thru this house made me realize I have quite a few options to make the lot work. I can be creative with my solutions and if I have enough land with no regulations hindering me I can still make it work. This is a valuable lesson learned which I am applying to the other homes we are still looking at.


MakeResilient aims to help build a more resilient lifestyle and family. I believe that we need to be ready for big changes coming to our current way of life (more info at the Concerns page). I am intentionally leading my family so that we can adapt slowly over time for the changing future. I’m no expert on all things, but I am acquiring the knowledge and skills of new things that I need.

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