You have a dream, cultivated and refined as you worked hard over the years to reach it.   A few acres in the country, a nice house, a few cows, a garden, a lake……
You bought that rural retreat property of your dreams.  The question is…….  
What now?

Families used to sit down to dinner every evening and discuss what that day had brought them. Family values were of paramount importance back then but today’s society has such a different focus. We are electronically connected worldwide and the Smartphone or iPad is never far away. It seems we just cannot let go of our careers. Working 60 hours or more with a work week that now spans seven days, children and spouses are often displaced by the drive to succeed and advance in our chosen career field. We think nothing of allowing an xBox or cable TV the monopoly of time with our children. One on one quality time with the family has been replaced with a demanding career and electronic babysitters.

Most people realize they need to nurture their family to a greater degree. Successful people often have elaborate plans for when they retire. We see it all too often — a couple attains a certain level of affluence and finally manages to retire to that “house in the country” they have been dreaming about for decades. The problem is many times they are too old to realize the full potential of the property and their kids are grown and going their own way with families and careers of their own.  You are just too old to perform physical work like you once did.  Your skill set does not include building fences, operating a chainsaw, driving a tractor and shredder or planting a large garden.  Certainly, these rural skills can be learned but it takes time and physical effort!

Retirement for many is bittersweet.

You start with this......
Aerial view of Central Texas rural retreat project pre-construction
Aerial view of Central Texas rural retreat project pre-construction

Time is a finite resource; every day gone by is a day that you do not get back as even the richest man in the world cannot buy more time. Our most successful and satisfying projects have involved clients that we were able to think it forward. These clients emphatically believed themselves and their family would reap immeasurable benefit by having a rural lake retreat location NOW — not later. They came to realize the time to improve their recreational land tract was now and due diligence and research is important. You can hire a builder to plop a residence down wherever you wish. You can hire a local bulldozer operator to dig a hole in the ground for your ‘recreational’  lake that may /may not fill with water and stay full. The flaw in this scenario is you will get what you pay for.  Most likely (as we see all too often), the house will forever look out-of-place and the lake will be a distracting scar on your otherwise beautiful property. The cost to fix these amateur mistakes could easily run 2-3X the original construction costs. Recently I quoted a job estimate to a couple at $180K. After these folks stopped choking and gasping,  I re-quoted the job as a comparative value of 3 large SUVs. 15 years from now what will you have had more fun with and what will be worth the most money? A piece of land that is yours to do with as you please or three aging vehicles?  I always tell each prospective client one concrete truth that is indisputable…………

Quality excavation work is almost always forever.

So what are the uses and real values associated with a recreation pond, fishing lake and other infrastructure at your rural retreat? Obviously it is a place for family and friends to enjoy but what else? 50 years ago most people considered being prepared for a weather related or man-made emergency as just being a responsible citizen and family provider. We took care of ourselves and family first and foremost.  Having a safe place to go with stored supplies was the norm. How many old homeplaces here in Texas have you seen that had a “Fraidy Hole” (tornado shelter) out back of the house?   Do you ever see that with new construction now?

Today there is a grocery store, restaurant or Home Depot on every corner we tend to operate on a “just in time”  basis. If a situation arises where the “just in time”  stores cease to operate, life can become uncomfortable very quickly. In the last several years many informed people have begun to realize that having your own rural retreat just makes good sense. What could be better? Dealing with limited or non-existent services in a congested urban environment or simply enjoying some unexpected time off on your own land? Leaving Houston the day after Hurricane Ike made landfall in 2008, we did not see a single light burning or fuel stop open until we reached Huntsville, TX – a distance of  over 70 miles to the north. It is estimated 4.5 million Texans were without power on that day and many would not see power restored for weeks. Interestingly, we have done several Central Texas retreat projects for Houston area clients since then.  It is sometimes hard to recognize a new trend as it develops.  Looking back now,  we can identify a shift in our client’s dreams that seem to coincide with Hurricane Ike and the problems it presented.  More and more of our projects these days are what we call the A to Z jobs.

An A to Z job starts with a piece of unimproved rural property and a client with a very clear-cut dream in their mind’s eye of what they want but a vague idea of how to get there.  Hiring a hodgepodge of different contractors is failure from the start!  Who is going to coordinate their efforts so the finished product satisfies the dream?

  • There is land to clear, not too much — just enough to enhance the property.
  • There are roads to be built which provide all weather access without marring the landscape.
  • Thought must be given to utility easements and potable water source.
  • A lake location that is aesthetically pleasing and meets the requirements for sound lake construction must be discovered.
  • A house site which takes advantage of the envisioned new excavation and yet is practical must be located.
  • In the end,  the project needs to look naturally beautiful and inviting and must be built to endure for decades to come.

No offense,  but most land owners are woefully lacking to coordinate a large excavation and infrastructure project of this magnitude.   Luckily, most of them are smart enough to recognize the expediency of hiring an experienced professional to build their dream.


You hire SoilMovers to build your dream......
Aerial view rural lake retreat during construction
Aerial view of the same rural lake retreat during construction

Improving your recreational land tract with ponds, lakes, roads, utilities and structures is nothing more than a series of logical steps that require a high level of expertise. You cannot obtain that knowledge by reading a book or research over the internet.  More importantly, few people are able to visualize the completed project as a whole so that it matches your dream and all fits together in natural fashion.

Remember my thoughts about a house just plopped down and a hole dug in the ground?

  • Do you think those contractors thought about running underground utilities at least cost and optimal eye appeal?

  • Do you think that bulldozer operator constructed your lake dam and spillway to withstand 18″ of rain in 24 hours from a tropical storm?

  • Do you think that contractor visualized the view across the lake from your back deck with any accuracy?


End result? The Dream fulfilled..............*
aerial view Rural Central Texas country lake retreat completed project
Aerial view Rural Central Texas country lake retreat – Completed project

We know the answers to these questions full well because clients have called us in after the fact to correct expensive mistakes caused by clueless contractors.  These local excavation contractors were mostly good people and meant well but just did not have the depth of experience needed for these special jobs. Our track record of successful projects spanning many years speaks for itself.  Let me add this…..  The wettest May on record (2015) here in Texas caused death and destruction all over Central Texas due to flooding.  My phone literally rang off the hook and my email was full once the skies cleared and people had time to get out and assess damage to their property.  Roads washed away,  houses flooded,  dams breached,  spillways overpowered and lakes destroyed.  I will not say I did not get calls from previous clients.  I did.  They were all anxious to tell me my attention to detail and forward-looking sound engineering and construction practices had weathered the storm.  We did not have a single project that failed or was marginalized in any way by this once in a 100 year weather event.  Not one!

If you spend the money and do it right the first time; you never have to do it again and that is a great bargain. Start living the rest of your life today because if you can dream it………..

We can build it.


How can it get better? A gorgeous custom log home on the banks of your private fishing lake and a dock right out the front door!
How can it get better? A gorgeous custom log home on the banks of your private fishing lake and a dock right out the front door!
Contact Nick

*These country lake retreat pictures are from an actual Soilmovers project. The lake project involved starting with an unimproved property with a creek crossing that washed away with regularity and an old travel trailer at the end of a rough driveway.  We created a hard reality that satisfied the client’s dream of retiring to the country. We invite you to take a look at what we can do. A full photo gallery of the project from start to finish can be found here.