NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?  (Read 9435 times)


  • Joined Oct 2008
Re: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« Reply #15 on: March 16, 2011, 07:21:04 am »
check the septic system is working ok. check that the house is ok. check on the google maps and switch to sat images it should give you a clue if the land floods. as others have said check the land and fences and whats been on the land. take your time and be sure the place is what you need not that its just available.
Voss Electric Fence


  • Joined Mar 2011
  • Dolau, Llandrindod Wells,Powys
Re: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« Reply #16 on: March 16, 2011, 08:02:27 am »
Make sure there is no ''travellers'' site within 10 miles, or , helicopter training flight path, RAF low flying night training, no schools within earshot, clay pidgeon grounds, or off-road activity center , playing fields or anything that atracts people in any way shape or form.......I should have been a lighthouse keeper.


  • Joined Jan 2009
  • Do what you enjoy; And enjoy what you do!!
Re: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« Reply #17 on: March 16, 2011, 08:57:49 am »
LOL when you go armed with all this lot you will appear like the SAS, CIA and FBI rolled into one!!  ;D ;D ;D ;D

Taking on board all the practical advice above, your passion and heart must come into the equation at some point!  One persons hell is anothers heaven. If you can see past all the crap that may put others off, the filth, disrepair, the reorganisation and the work required, then you may well get yourself a wonderful dream property for a snip! We did...we had a bit of vision and imagination. Get a ''feel'' for the place.

Our house had been on the market for over a year, for several reasons
1. the photos of the place on the estate agents details were laughable. They couldnt have taken worse photos. we were the second lot of people to see the place in 12 months.
2. the 'stables' were knee deep in sheep s**t and were dingy and smelly
3. the inside of the house was not much better; some of the rooms were inaccessable due to piled up furniture and junk
4. the garden was waist high in grass rubbish and in a dreadful state
5. the fields were think with docks and thistles.
6. the owners had fights and dissagreements with all the neigbours

We got the place for 25% less than the asking price!!!!!!! Its my dream home - we will never leave. i wish i could show you what i mean..the difference in the place from 15 years ago. We did it up on a very tight budget too. eg the kitchen cost me £750 pounds including plumbing, and electicity.

The other piece of advice I would give is; when you find your new home live in it for a full year before making any hard and fast decisions regarding the house or the land. So a lick of paint and the bare minimum to make it home then sit back and learn what the ground and the house teach you.

HTH too!!
Emma T
If you don't have a dream; how you gonna have a dream come true?


  • Joined May 2010
  • Cornwall
Re: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« Reply #18 on: March 16, 2011, 09:14:16 am »
Definately take photo's ... I think that's the best advice yet! We viewed our place 4 times and every time were so excited we forgot the camera. Every time we turned up we noticed more work to do!

A random note - run all the taps ... we ended up in a house with a bust shower and a bath that, every time run, came through the kitchen ceiling! Just bad luck but worth checking!

Good luck and have fun!!


  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
  • Qui? Moi?
    • ABERDON GUNDOGS for work and show
    • Facebook
Re: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« Reply #19 on: March 16, 2011, 09:21:45 am »
And flush the loos!
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age


  • Guest
Re: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« Reply #20 on: March 16, 2011, 12:17:27 pm »
whats its resaleability, u might out grow it and want to move. that includes what the local schools are like, even if it it doesnt affect u, it affect its resale. same for pylons.
can ur customers find u easily?
do u have markets and abbatoirs nearby if u need them?
steer clear of close neighbours, once the pigs squeal and cockerals crow, things can turn nasty quickly.
farm security, wud u feel comfortable leaving ur livestock for the day unattended?
wind direction is important when siting a polytunnel.
do u have a customer base who'l pay the prices u expect to charge? or do u have competition on your doorstep?
dont under estimate how long it takes to do things, especially irradicating weeds ie ragwort.
listen to your gut instinct! and enjoy shopping  ;D ;D

smallholder in the city

  • Joined Jul 2010
  • Lincolnshire
    • HootersHall
Re: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« Reply #21 on: March 16, 2011, 12:43:29 pm »
Thank you all so much for the very helpful advice, very much appreciated.
We're going to be looking in the Cambridgeshire / Norfolk area and in response to Lillian's query no particular significance to the 1st of April it's just the first day that I could get off work and yes I am counting the days, although I was slightly worried that the estate agents wouldn't take us seriously it being April fools day and all.
I'll keep you posted, we're going to have a look at everything on our short list first then go back to a select one or two (hopefully) once we've had time to reflect and digest what we've seen.   :)

Billy Rhomboid

  • Joined Sep 2010
Re: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« Reply #22 on: March 16, 2011, 01:52:32 pm »
In Katie Thear's 'Smalholder's Manual' there is an excellent chapter at the beginning covering what to look for in a property and a detailed checklist whihc had several things I wouldn't have thought of.


  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« Reply #23 on: March 16, 2011, 02:11:37 pm »
Definately take photo's ... I think that's the best advice yet!

Good idea but do ask for permission first, otherwise it's rude and intrusive.

Remember, you'll pay for perfection. Focus on the things that you want that you can't change, such as the land, proximity to roads, services and markets (if you're planning to sell stuff direct from your plant nursery). House, buildings, fencing - yes, will cost you if they aren't there but you can change them. A perfectly fenced property in the wrong location will always be in the wrong location.

Also, don't worry about background noise - we're near a railway and an MOD firing range (light arms to mortars) and we don't notice either now.


  • Joined Oct 2007
Re: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« Reply #24 on: March 16, 2011, 04:42:19 pm »
- run all the taps ...

Definitely do that, we were gazumped on the perfect house.  When poor new owner moved in he turned on the tap for a cup of tea and flooded the kitchen.  All the plumbing was knackered.  Cost him £12,000 to get it all sorted.  poor man.


  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« Reply #25 on: March 16, 2011, 08:58:09 pm »
Really just look at the lay of the land and if it has existing drainage. We are on heavy clay (but raised beds are super, just means we now don't have breeding pigs, just fatten weaners), and bought a unfenced building plot plus field. If you have to do the fencing from scratch at least you know its good and won't need patching up endlessly - pay a good fencer and it should last for quite a few years.

Also state of the house is probably not a huge problem, as long as it's livable in, you can do changes/repairs over quite a few years. Avocado bathrooms may just come back in fashion in a few years from now....

We also have low flying jets on several days (and nights) of the week, and you just get used to them, as does your livestock.

However you will need to know about possibly needing PP for any agricultural buildings, p/tunnels etc, and also if the house would need any major work straight away. Sometimes houses have reached their "development limit", which means you cannot extend them anymore or even put a conservatory on. WE looked at one like that, and as it would have needed larger conservatory we did not bid on it.

If you have children - local schools (and transport to them) would be another major factor. Always phone the council education department with the address to make sure you know exactly which catchment area it is in.

Also one tip - look at rural building plots, especially if they are outside villages and are sold by a farmer - just asking if the field next to the plot maybe would be for sale... it worked for us!

Tudful Tamworths

  • Joined Aug 2009
    • Liz's website
Re: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« Reply #26 on: March 16, 2011, 09:47:40 pm »
Forgot to mention in my earlier post - my first book (The Practical Guide to Buying and Running a Smallholding in Wales) has a whole section on locating the perfect smallholding. And not just in Wales (though there is additional detail on the geography/topography, culture, language, and politics of Wales).

It also looks at things like making sure smallholding is for you (and any family), finding a place that suits everyone's needs, financing the move, getting ready for your new lifestyle, legal requirements, choosing livestock (what, why, and how much), growing fodder, selling produce, and wildlife-friendly farming.

Hope you find what you're looking for.
Author of the Haynes Pig Manual, Haynes Smallholding Manual, and the Haynes Sheep Manual. Three times winner of the Tamworth Champion of Champions. Teaching smallholding courses at Kate Humble's farm:


  • Joined Apr 2010
  • Cambridgeshire
    • Hempsals Community Farm
Re: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« Reply #27 on: March 16, 2011, 11:16:14 pm »
Most of what I would have said has been said already so I'll try and pull out a few extra things. As others have said, its the unchangeable and expensive to change bits you need to pay most attention to.

Whatever happens, I'm sure you'll end up having to make some compromises so its worth thinking through in advance exactly what is a deal breaker and what is just irritating. Then go through the deal breakers and see what could be done to turn them into mere irritants - Its always surprising to me just how many alternatives and ways round a given situation you can find if you just open your mind to the possibility there could be any.

Oh, and enjoy it! I love looking round property, its like going for a job interview - you get to think to yourself 'could I be the kind of person who lived here/did this job?' just like playing dressing up as a kid. The only downside of looking for a smallholding is that if you do it right its a once in a lifetime event!

Castle Farm

  • Joined Nov 2008
  • Hereford/Powys Border. near Hay-on-Wye
    • castlefarmeggs
Re: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« Reply #28 on: March 17, 2011, 06:25:00 pm »
All of the above and if your seriously interested in a place put a link into this web site and there is bound to be someone who knows the area.

The best bit of advice I will give you is. Before you buy anywhere in the country learn to reverse your car. ;D
Traditional Utility Breed Hatching Eggs sent next day delivery. Pure bred Llyen Sheep.


  • Joined Apr 2010
  • Perthshire
    • Brucklay Pygmy Goats
    • Facebook
Re: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« Reply #29 on: March 18, 2011, 01:01:58 am »
I'd say agree with Location, Location etc .... got the house, got the outbuildings or can you build them .... just like fencing but in the big scheme of things the property and land is going to cost hundreds of thousand and a new bath is a couple of hundred - so my advice would be like others and I've done it - the priority list - what can I not do without and what can I not do - can't wait to see your pictures and read the stories
Pygmy Goats, Shetland Sheep, Zip & Indie the Border Collies, BeeBee the cat and a wreak of a building to renovate!!


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