How to choose the perfect rural property

July 29, 2015

Choosing a suitable property is just one of the first few steps you take towards establishing a workable rural lifestyle. Consolidate a good start by finding the right site on your property for a house.

How to choose the perfect rural property

Ask the tough questions

To choose a site intelligently, have a good idea of how you want to live.

  • Do you see yourself in a secluded home far from the road? Are you interested in a sweeping vista? Do you plan a sprawling single-storey structure or do you envisage a more compact two-storey house? (The former is useful if stair climbing is a problem for someone in the household; the latter is generally more energy efficient.)
  • Do you foresee the need for future additions and, therefore, a larger site? If you were clear about these goals even when you were selecting your property, you should be able to find a building site that strikes a balance between often competing requirements.

Location, location, location

A number of factors can have a direct impact on your decision for a building site.

  • If your land has already been used for farming, chances are that there has been some soil and pasture improvement.
  • Fertilizer added during pasture improvement can be a hazard to buildings. Fertilizer salts can migrate into porous bricks; in some homes this can cause efflorescence and, eventually, fretting of masonry.
  • Major damage to masonry can occur within 15 years. Houses built on what was once rural land that has been redeveloped into residential suburbs are most prone to masonry efflorescence.
  • Almost all sites require some shifting of earth. Because of the labour and expense involved, aim to move as little earth as possible. The cut-and-fill technique is the easiest and most economical method.
  • On a sloping site, water runoff will be greater than on the flat. Retaining walls may be necessary to mitigate runoff and soil erosion. Look for a site with a maximum slope gradient of 1:15. Land sloping to the north or west is usually prone to more extreme conditions than other orientations, while land sloping to the east or south benefits more from the morning sun and is ideal for a vegetable patch.

Look for convenient accessibility

Pay particular attention to accessibility.

  • How far is the proposed site from existing electricity and telephone lines? Where is the water supply in relation to the site? How many metres (or yards) of driveway will have to be installed to provide access to the nearest public road?
  • Of all development costs, road building is often the highest.

Noise concerns

Noise from beyond the property is unlikely to be intrusive on most rural land holdings. In any case, if you come from the bustling urban world, a moderate amount of white noise in the background may actually be tolerable.

  • Smaller farms close to suburban areas might be near busy roads or railways. To reduce noise, site the house behind natural rises, mounds or thick stands of vegetation. Solid, sound-absorbing fences made of brick, concrete blocks or overlapping boards can also control noise.

Keep these easy tips in mind and find a property you'll enjoy for years to come.

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