Spring is in the air in southern Ontario; April has arrived with its showers, and it’s only a matter of time before we all break out our sandals and start dreaming about swimming outdoors. For many people, it is almost time to open up the cottage for the season. For others, now is the time to start thinking about finally buying that bit of paradise. Here are some tips when buying a cottage:
- Get a home inspection. This is important when you buy any home; it is vital when you buy a vacation property. Because they aren’t usually lived in year-round, there could be maintenance issues; they are also often the place where the city-dweller experiments on being a handy person. It could end up being a very pretty, very damaged property. Get a professional to look at it.
- Test the water. Most people living in cities have municipal water that is treated for them; most cottages are run on wells or lake water. This water is fine for washing, but not always safe to drink. Get it tested before your offer is firm.
- Check out the septic system. Did the seller get a permit when it was installed? Is it working well? When was it last pumped? Do you know where it is? Is it allowed to be where it is? These are all questions you should ask.
- How do you get there? Is the road seasonal or year-round? Do you have to pay fees to a road association? Is it a municipal road or a right-of-way? You may want to get a survey done if you have any concerns about access to be sure that you will not get cut off.
- Are you on the water? It may look like your property goes right up to the water’s edge, but this is not always the case. Again, this is a reason to have a brand-new survey done.
- Is that boathouse or dock allowed? Again, many people build things at the cottage without being too particular about permits. It may be a sound structure that never got approved by the conservation authority. Better to find out before you are the owner and facing an order to tear it down.
- What services are available? You’re out of the city now; you may not have cell service, television, or even radio. Ask about what might or might not be available so that you are aware of what to expect.
- What exactly comes with the house? If you are buying contents, list each one so that it’s all there when you move in.
Buying a vacation property can be a wonderful experience. Be cautious and careful, and you’ll get the cottage of your dreams.