In this special episode of Horse House Hunters, we finally pick a house. That’s right: one of these houses is actually ours. In one of the more recent posts, someone commented saying they didn’t know what our search criteria was and I realized I hadn’t gone over that since my posts a year ago.
- Minimum of 10 acres
- Located in Vermont, New Hampshire, or Maine
- For Maine, the house needed to be within 20 minutes of Portland
- For New Hampshire, within 20-30 minutes of a larger town/city like Concord, Manchester, or Hanover/Lebanon.
- For Vermont we were only interested in properties in the Woodstock area.
- If not already set up for horses, the land must be able to support equestrian facilities: not impossibly hilly/swampy, not under conservation rules that would prohibit building an indoor, must be easily reachable by a horse trailer, etc
- Access to high speed internet (this can be hard to find in rural areas)
- Hardwood floors (or in a price range that would allow us to have them installed). I have sever allergies so this was not a buy it now and work on fixing it up later sort of issue.
- 20 + acres
- A smaller house – ideally under 3,000 square foot
- 10 – 20 stall barn
- Trails or trail access
- A rental unit: either a cottage or mother in-law that could be rented out
- Only one project necessary. We were willing to look at properties without existing equestrian facilities, but if we were going to take on the work of building a barn, pastures, and an arena, the house had to be turn-key.
$800,000 to $1,200,000. Just putting in an arena and adding footing would cost around $50,000. Installing an indoor will cost $250,000+. Properties that didn’t already have those features needed to be that much cheaper to accommodate their addition. We got different estimates on the cost of clear cutting forested land (depends on the value of the wood) to make pastures and the price of fencing depends on the fences you want to install, but it’s all expensive.
On the final day of house shopping, I looked at at 5 houses: 2 in New Hampshire and 3 in Vermont. The one Vermont house was an actual nightmare and I’m going to skip it, but the other four were all lovely. This was a day where a lot of the houses had potential. Presented in the order that I visited them.
This house was like something out of a magazine. Built in 1790 and gorgeously restored and cared for, it was just stunning. One room was an actual library. They had built on to the house over the years and there was a unique wooden cabin sort of sun-room and loft at the back. 120+ acres and only 10 minutes from Hanover/Lebanon and located on a paved road. Some trail access and the ability to put trails in on the huge acreage. No horse facilities and a lot of the land immediately around the house was semi-wetlands. It would require a bit of work to build an arena and pastures because we couldn’t use the lowlands/creek area and would have to build out in the back part of the property, but 120+ acres means tons of property to do so on. There’s no income tax in New Hampshire making properties there much more financially appealing. $785k
This house had so much character. The original 1835 house had been restored and they had converted the original attached carriage barn into a living room with master suite above. Is there a horse lover here who doesn’t want to live in a converted barn? I certainly do. The property also includes a pond, a sugar shack for making your own maple syrup, some more barns converted into a garage, a mother-in-law suite in the basement that could possibly be converted to a rental. No horse facilities, but 50 acres with huge rolling hills of pasture land and trail access. Located in Woodstock and only about 5-10 minutes from downtown. The only downside was it’s location on a dirt road that divides the property: the house and 5 acres were on one side, the other 45 were across the street. The house sits right on that road and – while the road is at least a dead end – there are houses further up the road so it is travelled. $795k
This property was all about the barn. The house was actually a bit weird; it’s one giant open space with not a lot of division. I know open concept is trendy, but I actually like rooms; I’m a mess and rooms help hide that disaster. The house is a bit dated and needs some upgrades, but the barn is just gorgeous. It’s a bank barn. I can’t tell you why, but I have always loved bank barns. 6 stalls with a tack room and grooming stall. Acres of fenced pastures with 4 additional run-in stalls. There was an outdoor arena, but the footing needs to be redone. Trails on the property. This one was the furthest from town: 25 minutes to Woodstock, 40 minutes to Hanover/Lebanon. $895k
Which would you pick? Which do you think we picked?