When we bought our lot, it had an old uninhabitable cabin on it. It was fairly modern construction, maybe built in the 1980’s. Wood construction, T-111 siding, a few broken windows, and no utilities. It scared me with the kids being around it because it was structurally questionable at best
Sometimes there can be credits for having an existing structure on the property and incorporating it in construction, that was not the case here. This structure was unpermitted and uninhabitable. Considering how to take it down was a chore. It had huge beams at the roof, but the entire floor was rotted out. It was just set on pier blocks.
We decided one of our first major purchases would be a tractor. Haha! We lived in the suburbs, had never owned or operated a tractor before. We knew we could use it quite a bit for construction and could always sell it afterwards, so it was worth the investment. We found a kubota 4×4 with a front loader on Craigslist. They were asking $6500, we got it for $6000. How to move a tractor?? We had a friend with a rickety flat bed trailer. We towed it with my brand new SUV. When we loaded the tractor onto the flat bed, the wood cracked under the weight, but that wasn’t stopping us. We brought it home to our neighborhood over night and then out to the land. The bed of the trailer broke through when we took the tractor off, but we made it, and reinforced the trailer before returning it.
We thought the tractor would push the cabin over with a few nudges, turns out it was more stable than we thought. It took some grappling, shoving, and nudging but the beams fell. We left it sitting for about six months, then hand loaded 4 truck bed a utility trailer loads full to the dump at @$35 a dump load for untreated wood. So for @$150 and a lot if labor, we removed the entire structure.
The land had been cleared at some point in the past, but not well maintained. The trees had spread a lot of scrub oak, over hanging branches, and brush. We brought the riding mower from the house that wasn’t because it didn’t sell with the house.
One if the first things we did was trim an oak tree that hung over what we were using as the driveway. To our city surprise we ended up covered in poison oak after bear hugging the branches to carry them off. The trees had vining poison oak that I’m not sure how we missed. Would be just the first bout of many with poison oak.
It takes about two 8 hour days on a riding lawn tractor to mow 5 acres. There are a lot of fallen branches so it isn’t ideal, needs to be raked. We ended up picking up a box scraper for $300 to hook up to the tractors 3 point attachment, haven’t used it yet, but should help with clearing. Ideally we would like to get a mower attachment for the tractor as well.
With no water or power, it can be hard to do a lot. We ended up picking up a 300 gallon water tank that fits in our truck bed for $75, this would help when we needed water on site for projects until we could get power for a well pump.
One of our next major purchases was 500 feet of 4 rail vinyl ranch fencing. One of the neighbors houses that we admire has beautiful vinyl fencing at the front and we wanted to create a barrier and gate to deter people during construction. We found the fencing on Craig’s list. They had bought it for their home, but were giving it up to foreclosure and selling the never installed fencing for $2000. Sean has experience installing fencing so we loaded it up with the help of our boys and brought it to the land, $4/linear foot for this fencing was an amazing deal. The fence would be one of our first major projects, but not for another six months or so.