Thoughts from a lawyer – Part 1
Purchasing a cottage is not the same as purchasing a home in a city. So, what is unique about a cottage purchase and what should you know before you proceed? Good question! We have a podcast with Mark Weisleder, Senior Partner at Realestatelawyeers.ca up on our You tube Channel and we are breaking down his thoughts into 2 blogs. This is Blog 1.
Buying a cottage is different than a city home. It is so important that you understand the local area you are buying in and get familiar with the local building dept. This will assist you after the purchase and ensure that you are not surprised with bylaws and what you can and cannot do to your cottage in the area you purchased, and what is allowed on your lake. Here are the top 5 things that Mark indicates are important for you as a potential buyer to understand when purchasing a property in Cottage Country.
- Home Inspection – A home/cottage inspection is more important when you are buying a cottage than when you buy a home, and we feel it is extremely important when you buy a home. The reason being is that there are a lot more things that need to be checked with doing a cottage inspection. When you are looking for an inspector make sure that the inspector you choose has experience with cottages. It is vital that they understand cottages, the town bylaws of the area you are looking to buy in and what he/she should be looking out for in a cottage inspection. A good local inspector will be able to recommend to you other local inspectors who can look at things such as well, septic systems and wood burning stoves. This will ensure that proper due diligence is done when purchasing a cottage.
- Chattels and Fixtures: Be as specific as you can in your offer to outline everything that you want included. With cottages you many want more than you would with a residential offer. Many cottages are sold with the furniture so make sure it is all listed in the offer. Some things that are covered could include but are not limited to: window coverings, patio furniture, paddle boats, inside cottage furniture, rugs, ceiling fans, etc.. The more inclusive you are the less surprises you will have when you close and show up at the cottage.
- How do you access the cottage: Seems like a funny question because in a city it is obvious how you get to your residence? In cottage country there are different ways that you can access your cottage and you need to be aware of how the property you are looking to buy is accessed. First you can access your cottage via water. If it is on an island, it may be water access only. Secondly, you may be able to drive into your cottage directly off of a road/driveway. The third way is that you access your cottage off of a municipal road where you may pass over a road or a right of way to your cottage. If this is the case, then you need to know if the access is registered? What are your rights and who is maintaining the roads. Is it maintained year-round or is the cottage not accessible in the winter months (3 season cottage)? In the listing and survey you can look for T/W which means “together with-“. In this case it means that you can use someone else's property to be able to access yours. S/T means someone else can cross /access your property to be able to access their own cottage. You are not allowed to build on a right of way and you need to ensure you are clear on who maintains it?
- Well water: There are a few things to consider when the source of water on your potential cottage is a well. First, is the well water safe enough to drink? Does the well produce enough water for all household use? Ensure that the well and all of the pump and equipment is working with no issues. Make sure that you or your agent is taking a sample of the water to the local health authority/department for testing to make sure that the water is drinkable.
- Septic System: Similar questions to the well in that you want to make sure that it is in good working order and that there are no leaks or environmental issues with the system. Also ensure that the septic bed and system are within your property lines and that the septic bed and system was constructed as per approvals and city bylaws. Finally, make sure that the system has been maintained without issues.
Stay tuned for the second part of the Blog next week where we address the rest of the thoughts from the lawyer.
As always, we look forward to hearing from you!