Residents of the country usually experience more problems when the elements and "Mother Nature" turn unfriendly. Here are some thoughts for you to consider.
The physical characteristics of your property can be positive and negative. Trees are a wonderful environmental amenity, but can also involve your home in a fire. Building at the top of a wooded draw or a tall grass prairie should be considered as dangerous as building in a flood plain area. Cedar trees close to a structure and shake roofs can be especially risky. "Defensible perimeters" are very helpful in protecting buildings from fire and inversely can protect wooded areas or prairie from igniting if your house catches on fire. For further information, contact the Riley County Fire District.
Steep slopes can slide in unusually wet weather. In wet weather large rocks can also roll down steep slopes and present a great danger to people and property.
Soils that swell and shrink may damage concrete foundations. Building in areas with expansive soils requires an engineered foundation.
The topography of the land can tell you where the storm water runoff will go during heavy precipitation. When property owners fill in ravines, they have found that the water, which used to drain through that ravine during heavy rains, can now drain through their house. A flash flood can occur and turn a dry gully into a river. It is wise to take this possibility into consideration when building. The Flint Hills feature numerous springs on hillsides. Check your property immediately after heavy rain to see if any springs are activated and plan accordingly. A line of shrubs on a hillside is a good indicator of seepage.
Sitting Your Home
Your acreage may allow several alternative building sites. Carefully examine seasonal wind exposure and sun orientation to position your home for optimal energy efficiency. Consideration of existing and future views both from the property and towards the building site provides more site satisfaction. Other areas needing careful study include: stormwater drainage patterns, soil composition and depth and driveway access. It is important to visualize how your home may be viewed from adjoining roads and neighbors. Make your home as environmentally friendly and sustainable as possible.
Nature can provide you with some wonderful neighbors. Most wildlife is a positive addition to the environment. However, even "harmless" animals, like deer, can cross the road unexpectedly and cause traffic accidents, or eat your garden in one night. Rural development encroaches on the traditional habitat of coyotes, bobcats, deer, snakes and other animals that can be dangerous and you need to know how to deal with them. In general, it is best to enjoy wildlife from a distance and know that if you do not handle your pets and trash properly, it could cause problems for you and the wildlife. The Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks, Riley County, and K-State Research and Extension offices are good resources for information about living with wildlife.