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Author Topic: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?  (Read 9449 times)

smallholder in the city

  • Joined Jul 2010
  • Lincolnshire
    • HootersHall
Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« on: March 15, 2011, 09:02:28 pm »
Having just booked our first lot of viewings for some potential smallholdings I am hopelessly overexcited and would really appreciate some tips on what to look for when we go and view the properties on 1st April as it's quite likely I'll still be completely overexcited and not particularly objective.  :D

We're looking at places with at least 5 acres, ideally with some outbuildings and although we're not bothered about the size of the house we don't want to be doing too much in the way of major works.

The plan is to keep GOS pigs, some more chickens (we've only got 2 at the moment) and if there is space some sheep, we'll also need a polytunnel eventually for my native plant nursery.

So any suggestions for what I should put on my checklist of things to look for or to avoid ?  

Re: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2011, 09:06:55 pm »

Find out what the soil is like - you really dont want heavy clay!

Check if the land is fenced.

Otherwise good luck - Safe Secure shopping for all your livestock equipment and supplies.
Also for more larger farm related items


  • Joined Feb 2008
  • worcs
Re: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2011, 09:11:55 pm »
I second finding what the soil is like. You don't want heavy, boggy ground - look out for rushes and buttercups.
You don't want anything with a footpath running through it . You do want road frontage, water and electricity.


  • Joined Jun 2009
Re: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2011, 09:15:05 pm »
and you dont want a house or cottage that's falling to pieces!  all the money you could be spending outside needs to be chanelled to the inside!!!  (guess what happened to me when we bought our place!!!) :'(


  • Joined Feb 2010
  • NW Leicestershire
Re: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2011, 09:17:10 pm »
Ok from what I wish I'd thought of when we bought our place:

1, don't buy in a conservation zone
2, don't buy near an AONB (you'll never get planning)
3, don't buy near an SSSI see 2 for why
4, make sure the fields are free draining, if it's clay it's a bugger in winter
 and it'll cost you to put drainage in
5, are the fields fenced and secure.. It'll cost if not
6, is there water to your animal pens if you have them or fields? It costs to put it in
7, don't buy in a flood risk zone .. Insurance is a packet
8, do you have enough outbuildings for livestock in winter, you'll spend loads building if not.
10, is the grass ok? Is it ok for hay, if not it'll cost to get your hay fields in shape if you have grazing livestock over winter and you'll need to get it sorted for grazing generally.
Thats the main things I should have asked to save me a ton of money.. You live and you learn so good luck  ;Dand have fun :-))  ;D ;D


  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Kinlochbervie, NW Sutherland, Scotland
  • Mad, bad, and dangerous to know!
    • Harbour Cottage
Re: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2011, 09:41:54 pm »

Drainage and fencing, for the reasons the others have stated. Worth having a look at the neighbours, too.


  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Aug 2010
  • leslie, fife
  • i have chickens, sheep and opinions!!!
Re: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2011, 09:43:34 pm »
can't offer advice

would just like to say i'm SO jealous!!!


  • Joined Mar 2009
Re: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2011, 09:52:51 pm »
Go to look at smallholdings in the winter and spring when the ground is at its wettest, this way you will know if you need to bring your livestock in, also the holding will look its worst especially if its raining compared to a sunny summer day. look for how many reeds are growing, sign of how wet it is. Nettles tend (but not always) grow on fertile ground.
Love pigs; their language, intelligence, and taste.
NPTC in chainsaws (felling small trees) and HND in Agriculture with countryside management.
Farming it runs through the blood :D


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Perth/Fife Border
Re: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2011, 09:55:33 pm »
You must be so excited, here is my wee input….Depending where you decide to buy i.e. the local terrain sunlight can be a issue……. As a example before moving here we lived for 20 years in the Cleish Hills {Scotland}..... Stunningly beautiful area, but once the sun went down over the hills the area was covered in shade, yet the other side was basking in sunshine…………….We moved here not far along the road from our last place in December. The house is a wreck just about habitable and a a huge building project come late spring…..However our priority was to check the amount of sunlight we had especially later in the day…….. Again we are in the hills so shade from adjoining hills was a concern…..Once we viewed this place we came back uninvited to check out the evening sun ….fortunately were now so high up its not a problem all be it we’ve had 16 trees professionally removed over the past month….We have sunlight and lets face it sunshine makes us all feel good :)

I’m sure your get loads of advice from other posters, but for us a reasonably sunny aspect especially latter in the day is very important

Best of luck with your search and keep us posted…..What areas are you looking at?


robert waddell

  • Guest
Re: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2011, 10:07:09 pm »
all good advice but what is so significant about the 1st of April???? :wave:

Tudful Tamworths

  • Joined Aug 2009
    • Liz's website
Re: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2011, 10:57:21 pm »
My top thngs to watch would be:

Suitability of land (similar to what others have suggested)
Definitely fencing (can be costly if you have to do it yourself)
Rights of way
Shared access arrangements with neighbours
Existing neighbour/boundary disputes
Vehicle access (think of big deliveries you may need)
Pylons and phone masts
Outbuildings and services (including sewerage systems)

Make yourself a "wish list" and take it with you. Take a notebook, and also take pictures and maybe video footage so you can reflect once back home.

Good luck!
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 Jan 2009
  • Do what you enjoy; And enjoy what you do!!
Re: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2011, 11:30:44 pm »
As above, but also if you are likely to get carried away take a knowledgable friend with you who you can trust to be brutally honest, and not just oooh and aaah with you. have your camera too.
emma t
If you don't have a dream; how you gonna have a dream come true?


  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
  • Qui? Moi?
    • ABERDON GUNDOGS for work and show
    • Facebook
Re: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2011, 11:31:45 pm »
The first viewing is done with your heart the second with your head - so say Kirsty and Phil!
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


  • Joined May 2009
  • Peak District
Re: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2011, 01:30:03 am »
I would be wondering why they are selling?  Yes, Legit reason of course .....but maybe they know planning is afoot for a wind turbine behind their house, or a new housing development has been ;passed, even a new bypass or something.  Something like these things can have a serious effect on the value, and of course the pleasure of living somewhere.

Some places need a change of use - sometimes they have been passed for a particular thing, and there are exclusions about what you can and cannot do, what buildings can go up etc.  Also, there are old deeds etc allowing neighbours rights of way  through your property ......

Personally, the state of the house is not as important to me, as the outbuildings and land being suitable for my needs.  Look at the fencing etc.  Once you get your own smallholding, the costs are never ending fencing is an arm and a leg, to buy, as is drainage etc. 

Look at a few places, make comparisons, listing good and bad points.

Fingers crossed you will find a nice property.

Its best to visit, have a good look, then if its promising, go back look again, and have those questions ready.


  • Joined Jan 2010
    • Allt Y Coed Farm and Campsite
Re: Viewing smallholdings - any tips ?
« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2011, 06:10:09 am »
If you want a polytunnel then you will need to look at how exposed the area is - if the sheds and outbuildings have breeze blocks tied to ropes over the roofs - your never going to have a polytunnel!  ;D

Fencing will (very) roughly cost about a £1000 an acre if you want it in acre squares give or take a few hundred and if done properly (best get a pro in) will last for years. In comparison to the purchase price its not going to be much but must be taken into account.

Neighbours - although on buying a property its a legal requirement to say if you've had runins with a neighbour when selling - most people wont.  Go see the neighbour and introduce yourself, just ask them what they think of the area and other random chit chat - they will normally be dieing to spill any 'beans' if they are the complaining type.

Get full surveys and searches done even if your buying with cash, if your getting a mortgage your company will require them anyway as a matter of course.

Go see the property in the rain, at peak traffic times and outside of the appointment time - many people only book appointments when potential nuisances are at the least.

Check the local planning authority site to see if any planning applications have been refused in the past for mods that you wish to make.

Good luck :)



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