I have had my heart set in finding land in Oregon to build a self sustainable homestead . I am planning a trip to Oregon to look around and get to know the area. I was told that Oregon has very strict building codes. Is anybody here familiar with Oregon ? I was also told that in many places in Oregon, I would not have water rights. I guess that mean I can't collect the water that falls on my property and/ or can't use the water in my property as I want. What the heck! Where could I go in Oregon to have a few acres where I can build an off the grid home ,be allowed to have farm animals and keep water rights? I would appreciate any information you guys could give me. I will be flying to Jackson county next month to look around. But we are really waiting on my husband to sell his business so we can afford land.
You can go off grid and have water rights if the govt has your building and rights permitted. If you wanna do it under the radar, They engage in satelite and fly over surveillance to look for un permitted buildings. Youll have to disguise your home majorly or go thru the permitting process. Oregon does not have riparian water rights so make sure you can hide your water usage or just buy land with the rights... im in the same boat..
I know there was a big thing with water in the Klamath basin where there are farms. A drought and wildlife die off caused alot of water issue. Rain water catchment is outlawed alot of places. Like here in the Seattle area you can't collect more than 3000 gallons. So check local codes and laws, city, county, and state. A permit may be required for you to even camp on you own property. Most places require power, water, sewer, heat plus a inspection to make a house habitable. Failure could be fining up to condemning the building.
I am myself from Oregon... I have lived in Idaho most of my adult life though..
Water rights in Oregon, in Oregon as with actually something like 28 other states, all water belongs to the state. To use water requires the purchase of a water right or depending on what you are doing it could be several water rights needed. Water rights will often transfer with property ownership, something to always check into in Oregon.
It has been many years since I lived in Oregon but back when I was 18 and living on my last foster parents ranch "Willow Creek Ranch, at forests edge" outside of Monument Oregon my foster dad went to check into getting legal with water rights. We had built many years earlier a spring box to catch water from one of five springs on the property and plumbed that feed to the house and livestock pens. We also built a 15 acrepond with a 40 foot dam in a ravine below the house so that he could pump water from it onto a hay field and raise hay rather than buy it.
When Cliff went in to check into the cost of water rights they wanted him to buy like six water rights for a total of something like $6,000 or $7,000 dollars, in all fairness at that time we had 4 houses on the property using the water as well as the original house, though he was no longer using the pond to water hay anymore. This was what, 29 years ago now, so things will have changed as far as price and what not, but still maybe helps one to understand the situation of water rights.
Another thing to watch in Oregon is the property tax, Oregon schools are operated from the property tax and the tax rates can be pretty high, don't just check what the current tax price is on a property, also check the history of tax rates and the increases, and the tax rates of other properties in the area and get a good idea of what the future holds for you tax wise.
From personal experience, if you find a property that takes your interest, do yourself a favor and go the local weed inspector and find if there are any known noxious weeds on the property or on surrounding properties. If you get the county weed inspector to go out and look at the place even better, if there are noxious weed problems you want to be aware of that before buying and calculate that into your purchase cost, can also be used to affect sale price of the land. I bought 200 acres of land without being aware that the 150 acres of wheat land on it was infested with goat weed, the neighbors let me go the first year without mentioning anything and then came over said I could either lease them the 150 acres and they would control the weeds or they could turn me in to the county and the county would hire a contractor to come out and remove it all for around 20 grand and then charge that to my land taxes. I went with allowing my neigbors to rape me for six years on land lease. Live and learn....
Another thing to be aware of is that people in Oregon and in Idaho in the smaller rural communities tend to view newcomers as outsiders and it can take 10 years or more before they will accept you as a part of the community. If you find a property, spend some time in the area getting to know the people and the community and get a feel of the people. The last place I bought was a real hornets nest, I paid the full 201 k asking price, all the neighbors wanted the place but they only felt it was worth 150k and so were unwilling to buy it, figured they would wait it out until the price dropped. They were furious when I bought it, and wasted no time in coming in person to tell me to my face that I had no business being there and that I needed to lease them out the land and not come back..... period.... And the ten year battle began.....
Not trying to scare you, just warn about a few things so that hopefully you can avoid the experience..
As for land, well, Central and Eastern Oregon have some pretty decent land prices and gorgeous areas to live in, it is a bit dry, high desert generally sees some decent cold and a reasonable amount of snow. It can be a bit tougher gardening with the dryer desert climate and the late start to growing, at my last foster parents it was not uncommon to have snow on the 4th of July.
There are other ways to get land in Oregon as well as buying, one can lease land in many areas with a much lower overhead getting into it and the ability to get out of the land without a huge hassle. One can also look for mining claims for sale, you can get into hundreds or even thousands of acres of land for a few tens of thousands buying old mining claims. If the mining claim idea interest you at all, do a search of the Pacific Northwest Mining Claims for sale and look through, you would be amazed at what is out there.
The further west you go in Oregon the higher the land prices go and the more people you have to compete with.
If you like Oregon you may consider broadening your search to include north central Idaho and north Idaho as well, very similar climate but a bit wetter, better land tax rates, better timber tx rates ( 100% defferred tax until harvest if one chooses). I live in Latah county myself, it is like heaven here, IMO. In Idaho one has the legal right to build a house with no inspections or codes as long as it is not for resale.
Good luck on your property search, I hope you find your dream somewhere out here....
Oregon water rights are explained in a handy publication :http://www.oregon.gov/owrd/PUBS/docs/aquabook2013.pdf
Notably, you can collect rain water from impervious surfaces (paving, roofs). Curiously, its one permit to have a pond and another permit to use the water in the pond (unless you're watering livestock, hatching salmon or putting out fires).
Regulations for land use vary significantly between counties. A current issue in many counties is preserving "the agricultural/forestry standards" - thus there are limits on converting existing timber lands into pretty much anything else, especially if you plan to build a house. There are exceptions such as the Oregon Farm Use (http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/215.203), which in at least the counties where I am, classifies most farming as allowable in designated timber zones. So you'll need to look carefully at county zoning codes. And if you plan to seek a house-building exception, plan to sign a statement to the effect of "I understand I'm building a house in an agricultural production area. Its TOTALLY my fault if I get run over by a timber truck while getting groceries, and I promise not to complain about the noise/smoke/smell generated by agricultural activities".
Also, there's a wine-boom going on in the McMinnville area. If you might possibly some-day be able to grow grapes, its at least $15k an acre. In the greater Portland area, extending down the Interstate 5 column through the Willamette valley all the way to Eugene, expect at least $5k an acre and far more if someone thinks its a spot for the next McMansion to be built. But there's some amazing (and far less expensive) country in the far East near Idaho....
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