My partner and I are hoping to purchase our first home within the next year and came across a great rent-to-own property which will be available to purchase next summer in the Columbia Slough area of north Portland. The property is beautiful - 1.5 acres of mixed open field and woods, located at the end of a road, backing wetlands with privacy on either side, established apple and pear trees, grapes and bamboo, as well as a couple retention ponds, and good-sized shed. There is a very small, beautiful home on the property (under 1000 sq ft) that is the perfect size to house us and our infant son, and is ideal since we'd like to eventually build a few tiny buildings on our property as well.
However, the property is mostly flat, it backs up to a floodplain, and there is a decent chunk of the property - maybe 1/4 acre? - located on the far end of the property that gets swampy every winter when the rains set in. Also, this region along the Columbia is sensitive to liquefaction in the event of an earthquake.
Is there any circumstance in which purchasing land near a floodplain region isn't completely foolish? Logically I would think not, but just curious what others have to say on the topic...
Well, you can probably get flood prone land at a discount. I guess the starting point would be talking to the locals and getting a sense of what of 50 year or 100 year flood event was like. Does one area get boggy or does the whole site end up 6 feet deep in water?
Buildings generally don't like getting wet, but for out buildings you can design in an occasional shallow soaking - keep all electrics up high, bare blockwork or stone walls, at least for the lower section, landscaping to make local raised islands etc...
People in many parts of the world live with regular flooding and their whole agricultural systems are based on the seasonal influx of nutrients. If you get flood waters flowing on the land you can think about constructing silt traps to help build your soil levels up.
Tara Swenson : This is a 2 parter but lets start off checking the obtainable history ! The very 1st thing is to stop and take a breath don't give your love
and hopes and dreams to this property just yet ! At some level you must be prepared to walk away !
Phone around, County planner, soil and water district, building codes people, you want to see how much if any, of your land is ZONED 'Wet Lands" and
how much higher is most of your land than the nearest wet lands ! With luck you will find a map if you search hard enough that will give you a land
contour for 100 year floods
Local flooding always leaves several calling cards behind, bark pealed off of trees, plastic jugs and windrows of flotsam and jetsam at the high-water line.
When I am pacing off a piece of ground I cut long streamers out / off of plastic bags so I can find and then mark a pattern, like a high water mark and
follow it to the property boundary !
So you are probably looking mostly at 1.25 acres of good land and a .25 A chunk that will be a place for wild greens and even a place to use as topsoil
amendments for your prime land.
When a building is planned in your area there will be site excavation and the contractor will need to pay to have the excavated dirt hauled away, AND
pay to dump it. You can negotiate with him for his headache to be 'clean fill ' dumped on your back .25 A, you control his access to your property!
My instincts tell me to get a good local Real Estate Lawyer to look over any contracts before you sign hope this helps stay in touch here ! Big AL
Success has a Thousand Fathers , Failure is an Orphan
Thanks so much for your responses, Michael and Big Al. I really appreciate you taking time to give me your two sense. Really found both your answers quite helpful. We decided not to go with the property, mostly because we simply aren't ready and the price ended up being less negotiable than we had hoped. So back to the search...
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