Gonna Keep on Moppin' Till I Reach the Highest Ground

| 3/15/2011 11:51:58 AM

Tags: spring, flooding, building site considerations, Cam Mather,

From time to time someone will ask us for advice about buying a rural property. At this time of year I am reminded of one of the most important things to pay attention to if you are looking to buy an existing house, or to build one. Be sure to check the place out at the end of winter/beginning of spring. Make sure that the building is on high ground

No really, I mean it!

We looked at this place in May when it was already warm and dry. So we weren’t really thinking in terms of spring run offs and potential flooding. If I’d known the challenges we were going to face with this place I probably would have bought it any way because the price was right and I really liked it. But having buildings that flood is a royal pain in the *ss.

As I watched the devastating tsunami unfold in Japan, I was dealing with a little “mini tsunami” of my own. Of course, there is no comparison between what those people are experiencing and what we experience when a few inches of water creeps into our garage/guesthouse. But anyone who has experienced watching their home fill up with water and their possessions getting wet has at least an inkling of the stress and feeling of helplessness.

We have three buildings; a small, two-stall horse barn, a garage/guest house, and our century-old farmhouse. We experience flooding in all of our buildings almost every spring. I have started to dread March. In March around here the ground is usually still frozen and if we get a lot of rain, the water has nowhere to go. We all know that water flows down and so during spring floods, the rainwater flows to the lowest points on our property. If you build in the lowest area, there’s a good chance the building will flood. Seems pretty basic.

The previous owners built the horse barn at the bottom of a gully. If you stand near the horse barn you can see that all the ground around it runs down to the barn. We’ve been told that when the previous occupants kept horses here, the poor horses would be standing in 6 inches of water in the spring.

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