Buying in a rural area?
Growing up in a small remote town in Labrador, I never thought much of where the water came from, or anything else for that matter. Water flowed out of the tap and the toilet flushed when needed. We were on municipal services…..so, I have learned a lot living on a rural property in Beckwith, being a Realtor®, helping many families find their dream home and living the simplicity of rural living.
It can be confusing to understand all the complexities of a rural home. But no worries – I have your back. You can buy a small lot in a subdivision within minutes from one of the small towns outside of Ottawa and it is considered a rural lot. That means a septic system, well water, limited servicess, etc. You can also buy a larger parcel of land with acreage, with the same services, but not be part of a subdivision.
I help buyers all the time navigate the different aspects of buying a rural country lot, and I have listed some of the differences from city/town lots:
Your water is going to come from the ground. It’s usually a drilled well, but can be other types of wells that I won’t go into detail in this blog. It’s the homeowner’s responsibility to maintain the well and make sure well water is safe to drink. A condition of sale in any agreement will be to have a potable water test for the bank. If you are getting a mortgage, a lender will not release funds until have a clear test.
Water testing kits are provided by the Public Health Unit and it’s recommended that you test your water twice per year. E-coli and coliform are tested by the Public Health Units Laboratory. (Click here to read more about testing). For more information on getting water bottles and having your well water tested, go to this link Public Health
Bonus: Go to this website to find your well record. You can go here and check it out.
💡: This is a great document to have when selling.
Water Treatment Systems
Water can get complicated. There are many things that affect taste, smell, and yes – even your plumbing. This is not unique to private wells. Some town water can have issues as well. However, well water is the home owners responsibility. Hard water, red iron, clear iron, mangonese, sulphur are the top of the list in things that can leave your water with unpleasant smells, taste, or stains on your fixtures. There are many different aspects to well water, and in Ottawa West and Lanark County, most rural properties install a water treatment system to help with hard water and iron.
UV Light Sterilizers are on a small percentage of rural homes. These UV lights will sterilize e.coli and bacteria throughout the year and are considered a permanent, safe solution to have potable water year-round.
I do recommend you do a well water inspection when purchasing a home with a well. A lot of buyers still do not inspect the well and water treatment because of the cost. However, you can learn from my experience. We didn’t get a well inspector (approx $600.00) when we purchased. We took possession on June 30th and by July 13th we had no water. I called the plumber and the pump was not functioning properly. We came to find out that the seller was having problems with water pressure and had previously had it looked at by a plumber (we found a report on the hot water tank). They were told the well pump needed to be replaced. The seller neglected to do it, and we were stuck with buying a new well pump within the first two weeks of moving in ($3000).
A proper well inspection will test the well for various things, including the potable water testing, water flow, well depth, water treatment systems and pressure tank, etc. Need more information on a well/water inspection? Go to Moe’s website – Water Inspection to learn more.
I hope I haven’t scared you away. There may be a lot to consider when buying rural, but it is so worth it! Stay with me while we go through the rest of the list.
Yup, your stuff has to go somewhere. The lifespan of a septic system is going to depend on the particular system, how it was maintained and other factors. Septic systems are big-ticket items, so I always recommend that you have a septic inspector. An inspection ranges from $300 – $600. The report will detail whether the system is functioning properly, the estimated life span remaining based on how many people will be living in the house, and whether the size of the system will be sufficient. Check out this booklet on everything you need to know about septic systems and their maintenance.
💡: When a builder typically builds a house, it is designed for the bathrooms and bedrooms in the house plans. It doesn’t take into consideration bathrooms and bedrooms that may be added later on. This can become a problem for re-sale if you add bathrooms and bedrooms and your septic system was not sized for the added fixtures.
In some areas, there are limited services for garbage and recycling, and you may need to take your garbage to the dump. This will be listed on the zoning for the property.
💡: Rural property has lots of animals. Plan on buying a good sturdy can with a tight fitting lid. We learn this pretty quick. 🙂
Looking for high speed? Recently there have been great strides in getting high speed in the rural areas. There have been a few providers (like www. storm.com) who have done a fabulous job. Now keep in mind – my high speed and a Gamer’s high speed are not the same.
Cell phone service
Again, like the internet, depending on where your home is located it can be spotty. But like internet speeds, cell service is getting better.
There is limited commuting bus service, and in some places it is non-existent. You will want a reliable vehicle.
💡: If coming to Carleton Place, there are some bus options to Ottawa.
Have any little ones, or big ones? You need to find out if your child will qualify for the bus depending on what school they will be attending. For more information, visit Student Transportation of Eastern Ontario.
If you are coming from the city or a different part of the country, you will want to familiarize yourself with the different types of heating. In rural lots, there are only a few areas that have natural gas. Some homes will have one or a combination of oil, propane, geothermal, electricity (baseboard or forced air), wood stove, pellet stove or an alternative heat source. Heating with these methods will be more expensive than natural gas, however, your taxes are usually lower, so its a trade-off.
This blog is about buying a country subdivision lot, or something with a few acres. This won’t be an issue when it comes to financing and getting a mortgage. However, once you get into larger acreage, the mortgage rules change. Most banks will lend for a property that has a house and one outbuilding up to 10 acres, but after that you may have to pay the difference for the extra land, on top of your downpayment.
There you have it! This is the basic stuff that applies to most rural property. It is quite a list of things to be aware of when deciding to purchase a rural home. There are other things to consider that are specific to the property. I’ts a lot, I know, but I personally wouldn’t trade this lifestyle choice for anything. The peace and quiet, the trees, fresh air, and privacy and more are well worth it.