Updated: Jul 1
A perfect storm of issues has led to a shocking revelation about my homestead/cottage dreams.
You may want to grab your coffee and hang with me for this one.........
This will be a long one :-)
I know I am not the only one, but I can be a very emotional buyer when it comes to something that I feel strongly led to acquire.
The day we went to look at the property for the first time, the seller's agent was also present. We didn't even exit our vehicle before she told us that there was another offer on the table. The property had just been listed just a day before, so there was no real historical data on record as to the level of interest in it.
I know this "other offer on the table" to sometimes be a selling strategy that some realtors use for potential buyers to bring their best offer, and it may or may not have been true, but I still didn't want to take any chances. I wanted my offer to be accepted.
As soon as we walked in, the agent told us that there is a pipeline on the property, but it is inactive. I didn't ask followup questions since I was pretty distracted by trying to navigate the very cluttered house. I actually just believed her and didn't even research it beyond what she told us.
I saw the potential in the property immediately and felt good about how it would help me reach my goals. I was open to demo-ing the house or renovating it. So it really didn't matter as much what condition the house was in. In Fact, we didn't even see a couple of the rooms because the homeowner's dogs were locked away in them.
The land was the draw for me. Not just the land itself, but the location right off a frontage road. A frontage that was easily accessible, but not very heavy traffic. This was of interest to me in case I ever decide to do a live/work setup, which is a long term goal for me.
The land I bought back in January didn't have this potential for mixed use.
Typically a land the size of mine in a desirable area would be much more costly, so those are out of the question for me. While this location seemed far out for some people, for me it was perfect. It was exactly what I was looking for.
Of course I decided to go in with my best offer, though it was less than asking price. We indicated that we could do a quick closing by not involving a mortgage company on our end to make our offer more attractive, in case there was in fact a previous offer on the table.
It was accepted as is! Time to celebrate...........until inspection and we realized just how much work the house needed. The inspection was not surprising however. It was obvious that everything had to be done - from foundation to roofing, even the water well and septic needed attention. We went back with a much more reduced offer. This was followed by some back and forth negotiations, until we finally reached an agreement. My realtor Linse is amazing with the negotiations. She really fought for me.
We got to closing in just a few days. Since we went in with a fast closing date, we had to do everything pretty quickly. Of course since there was no mortgage company involved, I should have been a bit more diligent on my end, but again, emotional buyer, and honestly feeling strongly that this was it.
A few days after closing I received a copy of the title policy and a copy of the survey, and for the first time I took note of the location of the pipelines. Haha. Yes, I know. A bit late at this point!
I immediately started doing some digging late at night (not literal. Haha. You can't dig where there are pipelines) with the information I had available to me at the time.
You see, when the seller's agent mentioned an inactive pipeline easement to me, my very limited brain when it comes to this matter, added to my emotional state of wanting the property, had me seeing the easement the way it would be in a subdivision - on the back or the front of the property. Plus the word inactive stood out. I don't know why it never occurred to me that it could very well be running through the property - which it is. What an absolute duh moment for me!
The other thing I noticed on the survey once I finally studied it, is that there were two pipelines - apparently owned by two different corporations. They were right next to each other, so that was actually a bit of a relief.
I started searching online and found all kinds of information about what it means to have natural gas pipelines running through your property. What rights do these companies have? How could I be running away from an HOA's dictatorship and now running right into that of major, publicly traded corporations?
I wasn't panicking, but I was certainly concerned about what rights they have.
The next thing I did was to call 811 so I could understand where exactly these pipelines were on the property. I also called a lawyer who specializes in pipeline easements and he instructed me to pull the original easement agreement from the county clerk's office.
I had to believe at this point that my God who led me to buying the property only a week before this latest development, is the same God that is allowing me to go through this latest issue. He must have a reason for this, and this was not the time to doubt Him. What if this is a blessing? I recently heard a sermon where the pastor said that most people expect that when God calls you to something, it will be smooth sailing from there. But the opposite is historically the case. When God calls you to something, expect troubles. This is because He desires our total dependence on Him. He gives us hope and a future.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV
I was still smiling through every new information I was getting. As I observed the markings made by 811 on the property, and the funny thing is that the pipelines did not interfere in any way with anything I had planned. I still had all the room to add on to the house, room for my barn, room for my vegetable gardens and trees, possibly a pond and a chicken coop.
Basically the 1.79 acres is about 78,500sf and the pipelines take up about 10,800sf. That's a big chunk, but I will certainly be using the surface. This just means I cannot dig or add a permanent structure in this area.
The easement agreement showed that the "right of way" was sold to an oil and gas company in February of 1947 for $11.50 TOTAL! (not per acre; total) Yikes! The then owners had at least 70 acres that the pipeline passed through. There were also other landowners in the area that showed on the same pages of the county record book - apparently the pipeline also ran through their property. I was shocked at how inexpensively these landowners sold the right of way for! I mean that's not even $1000 in today's dollars!
811 only showed one active natural gas pipeline on their work order. But they also showed an AT&T line. The representative from the active oil and gas company called me after he marked the lines and I was able to ask him a few questions that helped to set my mind at ease. I also reached out to their corporate offices to ask for their maintenance logs and other information that is important for me to know about how they maintain and manage the pipeline. I have to say that they were unexpectedly very responsive - although I am still waiting on the maintenance log.
A lot of it is maintained remotely, and they really don't just show up on your property. They seem to really understand that the homeowner still owns the property and they just bought the right to use a small part of it.
I tracked down the company who owned the other line and was informed that it is indeed inactive. I guess the seller's agent was not telling an untruth after all. Haha The second line was actually a crude oil pipeline. The AT&T line was never marked on anything, but I did get a voicemail from them and apparently it is also an abandoned line.
Need I say that it was an interesting few weeks.
So what does this all mean?
It really isn't as big a deal as it seems. I have even watched videos on Youtube made by landowners who have pipelines on their properties, and some actually like it. They typically have lots of acreage though, and the corporations clear and maintain that piece for them, so they love that. Many use it for hunting game and riding 4 wheelers. The general consensus is that it is not a big bad thing - though where they are located on your property matters. In my case, the location is not ideal at all - especially for a small parcel like mine. But the beauty is that having the ability to buy this property that will meet my long term goals is a blessing! I don't reject blessings, even if they look a bit different than my expectations.
There are definitely pros and cons. The obvious cons are:
1) How this reflects on my property value. Some people may steer clear the minute they hear pipelines and therefore my buyer pool could be limited if I ever sell the property in the future - unless it is someone like me who doesn't pay attention to their survey. Hahaha. I don't have any plans to sell it, and the improvements I plan to make will far outweigh the downside.
2) Certainly the danger of having a large volume of natural gas running through pipelines underneath my property is a big con for me. Of course most of us have gas lines running on our small subdivision lots. I do now at my current home, but we are talking about a much smaller volume than what I have.
3) A corporation having rights to any piece of my property is quite annoying, but they can only dictate what I do on 25' on center of the pipeline. This is a far cry from HOA's who legit think they own you and your property.
Believe it or not, there are pros:
1) The company has to keep the area cleared and maintained. This is great for people with lots of wooded acreage.
2) Some people actually get paid regularly from the oil and gas companies. In my case, they bought the right of way once and that's it. They don't owe future homeowners anything
3) Some people get free natural gas for life. Not in my case either.
4) My biggest pro is that I still believe God led me here and I will continue to seek to find the purpose.
When I think about what pipelines symbolize, I begin to see how God can use something like this to open my heart and make me aware of who I am in Him. Pipelines tend to be a tool used to connect. This one connects the resources of a corporation to family homes - bringing fuel used for warmth and making meals. Maybe part of the purpose is a reminder of the importance of connecting with other believers and other people in general on a much deeper level. I know that once I really get serious about growing food, if I am successful - which I plan to be, my family and I won't be able to consume all that food. What if this is the beginning of something much bigger than I can see now?
My giving these days involves direct debits from my checking account to some organizations that I care about. No real connection to the recipients. In the past, I used to be much more hands-on with the ministries I support, but my busy life makes it a bit harder these days. I go home each day and there's no place I would rather be. No getting together with friends on the weekend or even attending church anymore, as I started to believe that corporate worship was no longer for me. I enjoyed this for a time - I have to admit that, but recently (before even thinking about buying this property), the whole idea of building real connections and being a part of a strong community came back to the forefront of my mind.
So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
Romans 12:5 KJV
The Bible is full of verses about connectedness - just as parts of our bodies are connected to fully function, so are we to each other.
I sure could have learned this lesson without 10" pipelines of natural gas running through my property, but would I? Would it stick? Would I humble myself enough to see what God was trying to show me? This definitely got my undivided attention and it certainly got me to act.
As I mentioned, the pipelines don't interfere with the plans I had for the property. I still get to add on to the house, add my barn, lots of beds of edibles, maybe a small pond, a chicken coop, and planting fruit trees. But first, the house.............
I am working on plans with the help of my building designer, Annilee Waterman, and I cannot wait to see how she takes my ideas and put them down on paper.
I am also seeking help from one of my mentees for the landscape design. The landscape design that is floating around in my head right now is based on the "back to Eden" method, and involves a wood chip pathway following the path of the pipelines with raised beds on either side. Why not make it a design feature instead of working against it? The pathway will also make it a clear indication of a no dig zone.
The perfect storm of issues that made for a bit of drama this month has turned out to be me being even more reliant on God to understand the deeper purpose He has in mind for this next chapter of my life. My cottage dreams never looked brighter.
I wouldn't be a good business woman if I didn't also see the marketing and social media potential in publicly sharing this journey. As hard as this post was to write - admitting my biggest snafu to date, I felt it was very important to share. The lessons I have learned, and still learning, are truly something that is strengthening my beliefs and taking the focus off myself.
I did the same thing 4 or 5 years ago with renovating my builder basic home (though that was more focused on interior design), and I still get messages to this day from people who followed that journey about how much they learned, or were inspired by it.
My hope for this one is that as I share my journey others will learn about the ups and downs of renovating an older home into a quaint but modern English cottage, creating a productive homestead, and a bit of design inspiration sprinkled in. I am learning more and more what it means these days to have some level of food security in uncertain times, and living beautifully in the process. I am hoping that this blog series will be an inspiration to others - far beyond the food, the animals and the house.
Next post I will be sharing the name I chose for the new house and the plans! So exciting! You won't want to miss that post, so please subscribe.
Thank you to all who participated in naming the new house. I appreciate each of you taking the time to read my blog and commenting here and on social media.
What would you do in this situation? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Thanks for sticking with me for this entire post!
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Wishing You Beauty And Inspiration!