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Would you buy a house with a creek in the backyard?


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I'm a person who would not buy a house with a pool (at least until my kids- that we're not even done having yet) are teens because I'm terrified of them getting out of the house without my knowledge and drowning. I know a child who almost drowned and a friend of a friend who's child DID drown. Mom thought child was with Dad- Dad thought child was with Mom. The child who almost drowned was 3 and out of the house w/out her parent's knowledge- it wasn't even the actual pool- it was rainwater that collected on the cover. Her 5 year old brother pulled her out and saved her life. However, the yard is huge (an acre) and it's all the way at the back. (not right out the door like a pool would be) What are the chances that my kids would ever get out and get in the creek and drown? You can't prevent all dangerous situations. Is this a reasonable/manageable risk? We would have very, very clear rules regarding the situation, but kid's don't always follow the rules. This isn't a 'babbling brook' with ankle deep water- it's a waist-deep, 10 foot across creek. It would be a great resource for science lessons and a great place to sit and read.

WWYD?

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A babbling brook - yes, waist deep? No.

 

Not only for the safety of the children, but because larger 'rivers' like that can flood and damage the house. (How far is it from the house?)

I grew up in a river town, and just about everyone who lived on the river had to have flood insurance because it was a given that once in awhile it would overflow the banks - and flood the basements.

 

Plus - water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. You might get eaten alive.

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I would.....we looked at a couple of houses like that a couple of years ago. We were going to fence in a part of the yard, so that the little kids could play outside safely....if the creek was that far back, I would think you could do something like that. That would be so cool for the kids when they got older.

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Nope. Especially if you have little ones running around. I thought my two year old understood not to go in the road or even near the road. I caught her laying in the road with her blankie! (apparently she wanted to feel the warmth of the asphalt).

 

Waist-deep brook.. no way. Maybe when they're older.

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We did :)

 

At the time our youngest was 6. The creek is at the bottom of our long and narrow 3/4 acre suburban yard. The creek does have a high bank with all kinds of stuff growing on it plus there's a sandbar between the bank and the water (because of how the creek winds around), so getting down to the water is actually very difficult. The rule was that the older kids (13 and 11 at the time) could only go to the creek together when youngest was in the house AND either dh or I were aware of their location. Youngest didn't even know that you could get to the creek for an entire year :D

 

Because of the slope of our lot, the creek is visible from all rooms at the back of our house.

 

I love our yard and creek :) The yard is actually what made me say "this is OUR house" when I first drove by it.

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We lived on a 3 acre property for 15 years with 4 children and we never had a problem. We also had neighbors with 4 children who still live there with no incidents. It was about 30 feet across and 4-5 ft. deep. I miss the canoe rides we used to take. We did have rules and the kids followed them. We ended up moving due to the busy road we lived on and after losing a dog on it we were concerned a child could be next. We now have several ponds and woods and so far, so good!!

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I'd look at the flood plain issues. Mandatory flood insurance is a pain in real estate for buyers and sellers.

 

The first house we bought was adjacent to a county park that had a creek on it. Nice small neighborhood park. fun creek too.

 

The developers were supposed to have all of the property for houses out of the flood zone and the county park was supposed to be the flood zone (100 year marks).

 

didn't happen! 3 hours prior to closing, we had to buy flood insurance as one corner of our property was technically in the flood plain elevation potential. (we were the ones who bought from the developer.) Didn't matter than the house was 3 feet elevation above the 100 year mark. That little corner of property was in the 100 year so we were mandated to have flood insurance. Not pleasant to find out 3 hours before closing. But when we sold, we were upfront about it and the buyers realized that it only raised their monthly cost a few dollars. So, we sold. it all worked out eventually.

 

We fenced our yard and played in the creek and park together.

 

-crystal

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There are two things I would worry about: flood risk and wetlands designation.

 

We live on an acre of land on a river. We are way above the river so there's no flood risk and the flat portion of our yard is fenced in so there's no risk for the kids. We are planning to rebuild our house and we are having to go through all kinds of research and possible permit applications (with appropriate fees) because the water is designated a wetlands. You might want to look into this if there's any possiblity you may want to add on or rebuild someday.

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I would.....we looked at a couple of houses like that a couple of years ago. We were going to fence in a part of the yard, so that the little kids could play outside safely....if the creek was that far back, I would think you could do something like that. That would be so cool for the kids when they got older.

:iagree:This was my thought. That would give you the safe area for them to play as well as access to the incredible creek area as well for supervised time.

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Our house in Maine had a 3/4 acre pond @ 80 feet from our front door. When we moved in my youngest at the time was a baby and then I had one more baby. We lived there until he was 2 and she was 4. I didn't realize just how nerve wracking it was until we moved out. We do want land with a pond on it again some day but not one so close to the house.

 

So unless it was just a small babbling creek and not close to the house I am not sure I'd do it.

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There are two things I would worry about: flood risk and wetlands designation.

 

:iagree:That would be my concern more than the kids drowning. As from the other post about kids swimming, I'm a big proponent of kids learning to swim early and well. For me the creek would be a way to ensure the kids here now learn to swim well, and that any that came along learn how to swim by the age of 3.

 

Water in the basement/house is a pain, and to have a creek and not be able to use the resource (swimming, fishing, bug catching) is worthless.

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We have a creek in our backyard down at the bottom of the hill. It is a babbling brook except that it has a six foot waterfall right in the middle! The waterfall spills into a section of the creek that is almost 10 feet deep.

 

We have more problems from neighborhood children that from our DS. Since the creek is on our property, we are responsible for any accidents that happen to anyone in the creek even though we have no trespassing signs posted. We have a $2 million rider (the highest available) on our homeowner's policy to cover accidents (not that it would really help if a child drowned).

 

The law is very weird in the fact that even though someone could get hurt while trespassing on our property, we would be liable. :confused:

 

Just some food for thought. BTW, we have lived in our house for 15 years and haven't had any major problems.

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We lived on a 3 acre property for 15 years with 4 children and we never had a problem. We also had neighbors with 4 children who still live there with no incidents. It was about 30 feet across and 4-5 ft. deep. I miss the canoe rides we used to take. We did have rules and the kids followed them. We ended up moving due to the busy road we lived on and after losing a dog on it we were concerned a child could be next. We now have several ponds and woods and so far, so good!!

 

We grew up with big irrigation ditches around which sometimes would be slow moving and shallow and sometimes would be high and dangerous. We had a ball.

 

OTOH, I had an older cousin who was supposed to watch a 3-year-old sibling and got distracted. When we found him he was floating facedown in the pond way back on their 8 acres. His life was saved, but cognitively he was never the same. One mistake changed him forever.

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No, I would not buy a property with a creek that deep with young children; I wouldn't want the constant anxiety of the drowning. A creek is worse than a pool, too, in that the water is running--not still and the banks are slippery. I LOVE creeks, but I would not do this.

 

Additionally, a creek that large is likely to flood.

 

I'd find another place with more peace of mind.

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If flooding and water rights weren't an issue - I'd do it in a heartbeat.

 

We have a very deep koi pond right off the patio that goes up to my waist. (ppl who lived here before us put it in)

 

We also have a wooded creek about 3 blocks away that seperate our housing addition from another that has a nice playground on it's side. My 10 and up crowd go there by themselves several times a week.

 

I'm slowly becoming more and more free range style tho. :)

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Our 10 acres is bordered by a river, which is miles long and between 10 and 20 feet across depending on the season. The river is 2 pastures south of our house and then a bit farther on the western side. We've lived there since my 2 youngest were 1 and 3. We had VERY strict rules, and still do, about going to the river, for our kids and visitors. The river floods every spring and it's fun to wade into.We had a visitor who went past the point my dh told him and my dh told him in no uncertain terms to get out of the water. The kids was p*ssed at my dh, but we're not having kids drown on our watch.

This is a zero tolerance level for disobedience about the water.

We've had NO trouble and have LOVED where we've lived. The wildlife is incredible and as our kids have gotten older (past 14) they have spent hours wandered the small hills along the river.

No regrets here.

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The concern expressed about flooding is a reminder to check what kind of flood plain the property is in, and how up-to-date the plat is.

 

A practical concern -- and I say this from our experience while living in a house with a creek behind it -- is vermin. All the homes in the our area had to keep a wary eye.

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Yes, totally, I would love that. Sounds like an awesome property to grow up on and so fun for educational purposes and entertainment purposes. Of course, I'd either fence off an area for the kids to stay contained in while they were young, and/or watch them very closely- chain locks or sliding bolt locks up high on your doors can help ensure that little ones don't sneak out of the house without your knowing, and when they are out there with your knowledge, you can keep a good eye on them or keep them in a fenced in area. If I had the chance to buy a great property like that, which might otherwise be hard to find again in the future, I wouldn't want to pass it up, I'd just take extra safety precautions and be extra watchful.

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I'd look at the flood plain issues. Mandatory flood insurance is a pain in real estate for buyers and sellers.

 

The first house we bought was adjacent to a county park that had a creek on it. Nice small neighborhood park. fun creek too.

 

The developers were supposed to have all of the property for houses out of the flood zone and the county park was supposed to be the flood zone (100 year marks).

 

didn't happen! 3 hours prior to closing, we had to buy flood insurance as one corner of our property was technically in the flood plain elevation potential. (we were the ones who bought from the developer.) Didn't matter than the house was 3 feet elevation above the 100 year mark. That little corner of property was in the 100 year so we were mandated to have flood insurance. Not pleasant to find out 3 hours before closing. But when we sold, we were upfront about it and the buyers realized that it only raised their monthly cost a few dollars. So, we sold. it all worked out eventually.

 

We fenced our yard and played in the creek and park together.

 

-crystal

 

Also keep in mind that floodplain elevations can change through the years and you might end up with flood prone land in the future even though you might not right now.

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You ought to look into what flood insurance would cost, but when we lived in a flood zone it wasn't a big deal. Insurance was 800 dollars a year, but they lowered property taxes to offset it. We paid about 200 dollars a year in property tax.

 

We had a creek at our second home. It was fenced off. At one point I lost my 2 year, and I was in full panic for the few minutes it took to find him. If the creek hadn't been fenced....

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I think it really comes down to what you are used to and comfortable with. Our kids have almost always lived on the water - ocean/river, over your head water. We are very comfortable raising our children here.

 

However, last year we rented a house for about 8 months. It was the first time we had ever lived on a road where there were cars regularly driving (and they drove fast - 55ish mph.) Our house was on the corner so we were also on a side road with very little traffic - but a hill. I had more panic attacks during those months than all my other years combined. My kids truly had very little road sense. They had had no experience living on a regular road and would ride their bikes onto the side road without carefully looking, would cruise down the hill toward the major road going too fast, would chase balls toward the major road, etc. Nothing ever happened, but neither they (nor I w/children) had had enough experience living by a road. I am so happy and so much more relaxed being back on the water and at the end of a secluded, private road.

 

If your kids aren't used to it and you aren't comfortable with it, it will probably be a stressful move for you! That said, I love living on the water and our family would prefer to never live anywhere else. :)

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I grew up on a lake - learned to swim very early and had very strict rules about near or in the lake, basically zero tolerance from my parents until I was older.

 

DH and I bought our house when DS was just 2, it sits lakefront on a 21-acre lake and first summer we were here, swimming lessons and establishing the ground rules about boundaries he could and could not cross on the property without an adult. We've continued him, year-round, in swimming lessons or swimming with us and he's an exceptionally strong swimmer at 5 (he can swim a mile in the pool and can dive to 12-feet), but the rules remain for him regarding our lake....and so far, he's not challenged the rules about the lake - which we don't swim in, but we do have a canoe and jon-boat, so he does fish with DH and knows he can only go to the dock or lakeside with an adult, never, never, never on his own!

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I currently live on a very deep/large lake.

I previously lived on Mobile Bay Bayou

I previously lived with a stream in my back yard.

 

I had both boys take YMCA swim classes. They were not allowed out without supervision until my oldest turned around 13. He then supervised his younger brother. They were never to go to water without each other. They had to wear life jackets if they went near water without adult supervision.

 

This year they are 13 and almost 17. They do go swimming without life vest but they don't go alone. They both have basic first aid.

 

I don't know the ages of your children but do understand the concern. I had very strict rules and tested the children of these rules for awh

ile before they earned their freedom.

 

Last summer my new 12 year old, rolled his raft to the island and back by himself. I sat on the pier so worried but I understood that boys need adventure and the need to feel like men.

 

He had his adventure and thank goodness he doesn't want to do it again.

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It would depend. If it is a little babbling creek, yes, in fact that would be a great advantage as you would have a water source if your main system failed. But something that roars, no. We did not buy land on a lake because of the kids. I would love to have a creek though.

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Yes. In fact when I look at houses, I look for some sort of natural water availability. But, my kids are almost all in double digits (4 more months). It does have a lot to do with age.

 

Right now we have what can best be described as a ditch just past the back yard. It's not on my land, but it's "greenway" so it doesn't belong to anyone but the city. The kids play back there all the time. It's maybe knee deep when it's full after a big rain. So moving on to waist deep, 10 ft across wouldn't bother me. With rules of course.

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Our house is on a lot that backs up to a large stream (one of the cleanest and best in the midwest, or so I'm told). We bought the house when our youngest was two and our oldest was five. There's a fence that prevents easy access to the creek. We're also on the 'high' side - when the water is high, the opposite shore floods leaving a good 15 feet of safety elevation on our side.

 

The house is 120+ years old, and hasn't been flooded out yet. If the water gets high enough to endanger our property, the entire state would be under water.

 

The kids absolutely love playing in the creek, catching crayfish, watching the turtles and fish, the wood ducks and herons; there's a beaver dam right behind our house since last winter. The creek is part of what sold us on the house. We watch the kids like hawks, and they have never gone down there without us.

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I would want a fence between the rest of the yard and the creek. But otherwise, I would go for it. I lived in a house with a very similar set-up when I was a child (teen, really, though my siblings were younger) and it was fantastic for exploring, etc. But I would want a fence, and I would put the Fear of God into my kids about going there without an adult. (Even teens should never, ever go there alone, and we would have lots of talks about exploring safely and the dangers of slipping, etc.)

 

But it wouldn't stop me from buying the house.

 

(ETA: I certainly agree about checking on flood issues. Our lot was huge and sloped all the way, so flooding up to the level of the house was truly impossible, and thus never a concern. Other configurations would give me pause.)

Edited by abbeyej
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I'd have some of the same safety and flooding concerns others have mentioned.

 

Another issue, depending upon where you live, is what lives (and dies) in the creek. A friend of mine has a beautiful creek in her back yard. When I commented on how lovely it is, she smiled ruefully and said, "It is nice. Except in December and January, when the spawning salmon all die. The smell is unbelievable."

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I would feel the same way about the creek in back as I would about the road in front. I'd fence, supervise strictly, make sure doors stay locked and use those alarms that go off if a kid walks past them -- all precautions I'd take for living in a house that cars ever drive past, too. I would buy that house. The creek sounds wonderful. I'd also fence and count on never letting little ones outside alone.

Edited by dragons in the flower bed
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I would, but then I grew up on a farm in OK with a few large creeks and several ponds. None of us - silblings, cousins, etc. ever had trouble around the water. We all used to roam all over the place (close to a 1,000 acres including part of a mountain) from a young age unsupervised. I don't remember earlier than 5, but I assume we were all taught to respect the water, and we all knew how to swim very well. We also knew about snakes and to look out for them. Looking back, we were given much responsibility and we lived up to it. Some of my fondest memories of childhood surround those creeks - climbing the rocks, swimming, looking for muscle shells, walking along the dry creek bed when we didn't get enough rain, etc. The one thing that would concern me about your 10 foot deep creek, though, would be a possible undercurrent that could sweep a little one away. A fenced in area of the yard does seem like a reasonable precaution.

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Also keep in mind that floodplain elevations can change through the years and you might end up with flood prone land in the future even though you might not right now.

 

Yes. BTDT. We had to spend money on a surveyor to prove to some company half-a-continent-away that we, in mathematical fact, were 2-1/2 feet above the demarcation elevation which would have mandated very expensive flood insurance. Our elevation had not changed. Rather, the flooding five hours to the south of our city convinced the distant company that the entire state had sunk. :blink:

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I wouldn't take the risk. A friend and a prof passed away drowning in his own pool and he was about 50 years. You never know what circumstances or factors can cause something like that. Why take the additional risk if it can be avoided?

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Well, with everyone giving the same advice, it's as clear as mud! LOL! We're considering it, I've asked about the flood issue, but the entire property slopes downward toward the creek, so I don't really think it will be an issue.

Anyway, thanks for the advice, it really is appreciated. It's kindof eerie- the differing viewpoints are like echos of what was going on in my head before I asked the question!

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My father in law(in Canada) bought a property with a creek on it, over 50 years ago. It was an old farm field.Over the years he dug out the creek , and made a pond for ice skating in the winter, he also planted trees along the creek etc. Now he is in his late 80's he thought he would sell the property buy a house close to his daughter.

He has just found out he cannot sell his property; because it has a creek, and he planted trees and he improved the creek so it looks beautiful, they have declared it green belt, and when he dies or shifts away, the land becomes the governments! This is like 9 acres on the outskirts of Toronto! He is pretty upset about it, especially that he has to keep paying rates on it.

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We have a creek and a 1/2 acre pond.

 

When we bought our property we did some research. 90% of kids that drown are boys (we have a girl). The largest percentage were kids under 3. Kids drown in bathtubs, toilets, buckets, (I kid you not), the only thing you can do is be alert.

 

We were more worried about our pond than the creek. But we have lots of plants around the pond and it is not easy to get down to the edge. The creek is only about a foot deep normally, but can get high with rains.

 

Regarding mosquitoes - you need still water for mosquitoes to bred. Unless you have standing water, it is not a problem.

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We have a tiny creek on our property, and I love it. The kids can play out there, and I just have to look out the window to check on them. big creek would worry me a lot. Our little creek leads to a big creek a 10 minute hike through the woods--best of both worlds, as they can go there when we go with them, but can't get to it easily on their own. We don't worry about flooding, as the creek is down a steep hill. We had major floods in our area last fall and no problems at all at our house.

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I would be more scared of a creek or river than a pool. We do have an inground pool that is well fenced. I do still worry, the bigger kids could climb it but they never have and they are very much risk takers. They know better.

 

I agree that if you could fence in an area for the kids to play that would be a great solution.

 

Kari

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Yes, I would and in fact did. 4 years ago dh and I purchased our house which sits on 3 acres and included a very large spring fed creek/lake. From it's most shallow point it is approx. knee deep and it's deepest point is approx. 20 ft. deep at the dam. It is fully stocked with fish and large enough to take paddle boats on. We have a large dock that we swim and fish off of.

 

My kids were 4 and 7 when we bought this place. They are now 8 and 11.

 

We did however not take the creek for granted and we have always been extrememly careful in regards to the kids. First thing we did was install a 6 foot fence around the entire perimeter and yard so that the kids couldn't get to it. This gave them a safe place to play without worrying about them falling in the creek. The second thing we did was enroll them in swim lessons pronto. We wanted them to know how to swim as an extra safety precaution.

 

Now 4 years later we have no regrets. We absolutely love our creek. We love being able to go fishing anytime we want. We love paddle boating and just vegging at the dock. We also absolutely love the wildlife it brings around such as the ducks and geese and it is just beautiful looking out on the water everyday.

 

It really is a personal decision but if precautions are set in place it can be a very positive thing.

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It would depend...if it was my dream home and there was a way of fencing in the house very securely...likely yes (if I had toddlers or would in the future). I do love creeks myself and they are wonderful places for older children to explore, so they would factor in. However...if I was still in the baby stage, it would definitely be one factor against.

We didn't rent houses with swimming pools until our kids could swim. We were never complacent about our kids near water. But...we rented so could only do so much to prevent accidents. If we bought...it would be different because we would make very secure fencing (and i know nothing is fullproof). I do remember one house we looked at once that had a pool in the atrium- 3 walls of the house looked over the pool, with glass sliding doors. The couple had young children, and they dealt with it by teaching their kids to swim as babies. There are classes- and I took my first child to them- that teach baby survival skills, and the ones I went to were excellent. I am not saying they make a baby drownproof but they really help.

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When we were looking at houses a creek or pond was one of our top priorities!

We both loved water and our kids loved water (we were moving from the west coast where we were 5 min from the beach).

 

Our kids were 3,6,9 when we moved so they were young. But we wanted it as a learning tool as well as a beautiful place to live. We've been here 2 yrs and love it.

 

We taught the kids rules and are very watchful when they were out. We do not have a fence but there are natural boundaries that the kids know they cannot go beyond without us. The creek is a good 200 yards behind the house so not right out the back door.

Flooding is not a danger to the house though the yard did flood in the back each spring.

 

Each person has to decide what they want in their living environment-for us it was water and woods. We love it here, our kids love it, and our friends love so come visit to they can play in our creek and woods ;)

Edited by Ann in IA
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