Tips for setting up a new acreage

By Vern McClelland

April 20, 2017 12:00 AM

I have lived in the country most of my life plus have seen literally hundreds of rural homes during my career as a Realtor.
Spring is often the season when many people start to think about either buying an acreage or establishing one from scratch.
If you are one of those, here are a few pointers you may want to consider first.
Build a proper driveway. Make the approach and road surface wide and solid enough to easily accommodate a semi-tractor with trailer.
It is usually as easy as hiring a competent grader operator; preferably one who has built accesses into oil leases as that person will know to roll the black soil back, pull up the clay, and create a gentle shoulder.
Then gravel it sufficiently to handle the heavy traffic that will soon be on it to build your new home.
I was at one acreage earlier this month and it was good thing I was driving a truck with four-wheel drive as the road surface was lower than the adjacent field. The recent snowfall will have only made it worse.
Plan the yard for the house and any potential outbuildings that may come later.
If you want to eventually build a shop, establish a second, dedicated entrance for it if possible so you can keep the big rigs away from the house yard and children.
You will have less noise and dust as well.
Too many people put in a small circle drive. Again, make it wide enough that bigger vehicles can easily pass a parked car or alternatively establish a safe turn around or drive-through area.
If you are planting trees, think 20 years down the road when you will actually be able to enjoy them.
Place each one far enough apart that you can easily cultivate between them for the first 10 years or so.
Plant too close and you will eventually get tall, spindly specimens plus it’s no fun getting swatted in the face by branches as you try to weed the open space.
There are some good publications on windbreak establishment available online from the provincial departments of agriculture.
It sure is easier to spend one hour reading than experiencing several decades of regret by making the wrong choices. The best designs usually have three rows of different species of trees.
The birds and wildlife will thank you too.
Also, please, please, keep the first row back from the driveway. Someday you will need to plow snow or bring in a high rig of some kind and battling branches is no fun.
Before doing any of the above, make sure you have a water supply sufficient for domestic purposes. Water is not everywhere!
If you have ever lived without enough water for daily use you will know what I am talking about.
Smaller acreages require a leach field for the septic system. Again, research best practice. The one I prefer has a two-compartment tank then a separate distribution box from which all the perforated lines run.
All municipal districts have public health regulations that need to be observed. They are there for a reason.
Don’t do what one person did and have their above aground septic pump out 30 feet from their well. It was no wonder the water in the house was brown with a funny smell.
If you have an in-tank submersible septic pump, I recommend you have the discharge line come up in an upside down “U” inside the manhole before it goes back down and out. The bacterial action in the tank will generate enough heat to keep it from freezing.
When the day comes that the pump fails, it is easy to reach into the manhole and disconnect the line and pull the unit up for replacement.  Which brings me to another tip. Always have a replacement effluent pump and fittings on hand.
It is an unwritten law in the country that septic pumps shall fail when you have a house full of company which is usually on a holiday weekend when all the plumbing supply stores are closed!
Vern McClelland is an associate broker with RE/MAX of Lloydminster. He can be reached at (780) 808-2700, through or by following the Midwest Group Lloydminster on Facebook.

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