A quick exploration of how a cave on your property can effect your property’s use and/or value and what we discovered when we purchased a property with one in San Marcos, TX.

If you’re looking to purchase a property west of 35 spanning either from San Antonio up north past Liberty Hill, even into Bertram, there’s a good chance that you’ll be required to conduct an ESA (Environmental Site Analysis. Now, we’ve spoke about this in a previous video, but there is a good chance also that you might discover a cave on the property. So, what do you do with that?

Well, if you’re leaving the property in its current state, then you don’t have to do anything with the cave. You don’t have to put a buffer around it, for example. If you’re renting the property out as a short-term rental, it actually could be an attraction because there are folks called spelunkers that actually seek out caves throughout the world to explore caves.

But, what if you want to develop the property? Well, then you have a couple different options. One, you can either just put a buffer around it. So, most municipalities or counties have a standard buffer anywhere from 200 to 300 feet around that cave. You cannot touch that area around the cave. It cannot be developed. The reason being is because caves usually have karst features.

What are karst features? Karst features are porous rock formations that allow surface water or rainwater to trickle down and replenish the aquifers. So, obviously, this is vital to a healthy ecosystem and we want to preserve those karst features.

But, sometimes these buffers are actually quite large and they will limit the density of development that you can do. So, your second option is you can actually hire a professional environmental engineer to map the cave and then once they do that, you submit the report to the municipality or the county. And, since they now have the exact dimensions of the cave, they may be willing to reduce that buffer. So, therefore, you can get higher density while also preserving the cave and the karst features.

Now, these will typically run you anywhere from $1,500 up to about $5,000. We recently had a cave mapped in San Marcos and it costs us about $1,500 and took about three weeks to complete. But, it was, we were able to reduce that buffer around that cave. So, it could be a good benefit to you if you decide to develop the property.

Feel free to reach out to us with questions or other topics you’d like to see covered.

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