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Buying a cottage private sale, what to watch out for?

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  • Aug 7th, 2012 8:12 pm
[OP]
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Buying a cottage private sale, what to watch out for?

I found a 'deal' on a cottage but it is a private sale. How effective are house inspection surveys checking wells (it's shallow sand) and septic? Do you need special inspectors for this? What else should someone do, check ? What might they not be disclosing?
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Deal Addict
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Nov 9, 2003
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Grimsby
If it is on sand are you sure it is a well and not a sand point?

Nothing wrong with sand points, they are used extensively in the Delhi, Tillsonburg, Lake Erie area where the soil is predominately sand.
Sr. Member
Jul 26, 2010
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Burlington
Check building permit records at Local Municipal Office. Ensure last Site survey has been filed and if a waterfront lot, whether Shoreline Alllowance has been purchased.
[OP]
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Yes a sand point, what about in the winter, do they freeze?
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Nov 9, 2003
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Grimsby
silicontraveler wrote: Yes a sand point, what about in the winter, do they freeze?
Hard to answer not knowing your intentions. If you intend to winterise as it is a cottage then once you drain the water system the water in the pipe will drop back to the level of the water table and be no problem.

You might consider enquiring about the sandpoint location and the slot size of the filter for future reference if you buy. My filter was a #6 slot 4 feet long attached to a 12 feet pipe with an elbow 3 feet below the surface but still below the 30 inch water table in the area near Delhi as the sand was very fine. It was used year round.

Talking to more than one neighbour would be a good idea and ask if the water is plentiful all year as this is very important. Our water was very hard, in fact you could take a glassfull and place it to one side for 20 minutes and a ring of rust would show around the inside bottom of the glass. Very healthy but terribly hard on water heaters 'cos all the rust drops to the bottom needing a heater replacement more frequent than most.
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Nov 2, 2005
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WFH
As with any property purchase it's your responsibility to do your due diligence. Depending on the age, value and state of repair cottages are often sold "as is"

Normal building and septic inspections should suffice to uncover any major defects but the vendor may have already taken this into account. Water coming from a shallow sandpoint should not be regarded as potable since even if it tests OK at the moment this can quickly change without notice. They're also more prone to failure than drilled wells but OTOH easier to make a new one.

If it's "good deal" and priced below market then there's probably a reason. Have you tried asking the vendor what he's taken into consideration when determining his price?

Make sure any written offer you make is conditional on your lawyer reviewing it or ideally have him prepare it for you.
[OP]
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Jan 1, 2012
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"Make sure any written offer you make is conditional on your lawyer reviewing it or ideally have him prepare it for you. "

This is an offer to purchase for a price of $99999.00 for the property 35 Highborn Ave.
The sale would be contingent on a building inspection, which buyer would have to be satisfied with or the deal could be cancelled without obligation or reason.
The offer is valid for 2 days, until Friday 7th of July/2010.
The sale process should be completed within 13 workings days after accepting the offer.
Upon acceptance buyer will provide a refundable deposit of $zero because i don't really trust you.
Offer does not include any furnishings other than blowup dolls and sushi knifes.
Seller is responsible for all fees to sales agent if applicable.

Is that about right?
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Jan 6, 2008
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If a private road, check your legal rights and responsibilities. is the septic system legal? i.e.: city inspected and approved? how's the dock look? these would be expensive fixes if required shortly after purchase. is it winterized including water supply? what do you heat with? circuit breakers or fuses? how many amps service?
[OP]
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I met the owner today, the well and septic look very old and built by the old dad now passed on. Owner is trying to tell me it's fine, he even tried to tell me got an email offer yesterday!
I called a well company they say there is lots of water in that area --175 ft down. 16k they quote me for 5star well with 3k for a pump and installed. The owner says $3333 to drill. The well company says guarantee for 40 years. Do you think it's worth it? Nothing but trees around this place. I imagine the $3333 job would be good for some time too.
Septic, again he says is fine but i see a lot of moss around. Says it needs pumps outs. This place was build in the 70's so septic and well just don't last so long. I guess that is not so expensive.
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Oct 19, 2008
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Cab you rent for a week-that will give you a good feeling for the area and time to inspect the cottage thoroughly.

How does the well look old-you mean the pump itself? Asking as my dad had a well drilled in the 70's, still produces great water with its 3rd pump.

The septic field can be expensive-not a deal breaker if you budget that cost into your offer. A properly operating septic system should not reqiuire pump outs....it is a septic system and not just a holding tank?
Deal Expert
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Aug 9, 2004
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silicontraveler wrote: I met the owner today, the well and septic look very old and built by the old dad now passed on. Owner is trying to tell me it's fine, he even tried to tell me got an email offer yesterday!
I called a well company they say there is lots of water in that area --175 ft down. 16k they quote me for 5star well with 3k for a pump and installed. The owner says $3333 to drill. The well company says guarantee for 40 years. Do you think it's worth it? Nothing but trees around this place. I imagine the $3333 job would be good for some time too.
Septic, again he says is fine but i see a lot of moss around. Says it needs pumps outs. This place was build in the 70's so septic and well just don't last so long. I guess that is not so expensive.
that seems like a lot for a well.
Goulds is one of the best pumps you can buy and thats like $700.
submersibles are more expensive, but still, not sure how they come up with that price.

Septic will be your biggest worry. Your existing septic system may not even be on file with the town.

in fairness, as someone who has owned 3 cottages before, what I look for is land value....most cottages themselves are pretty crap, and can *usually* easily be torn down and rebuilt. so make sure you love the property and location and that it is priced fairly based on that, plus a few grand for the building (s).
[OP]
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I'm taking about 130k here, he wants 140k but has been trying to sell it for 2 years, like many people in this area. So that is bit unnerving. Maybe not for stealth who eats cottages for breakfast.
It is a declining market in cottages, no young buyers. I guess i can't be too picky at this price range within close distance to Toronto. The area is beautiful up there, the lot is great too absolutely private with vacant heavily tree lots all around. Road is served, there is gas, garbage pickup. Really aluminum siding, the cottage seems in good shape, even a little basement and crawl space. Just the septic and water will be 20k, so 150k is pretty good for a 'house.' tax is only $1100 a year. There is an addition with high ceiling and sky lights, nice sliding doors. Probably still be worth 150k in 5 years. Who's going to buy all these cottages?
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Jan 6, 2008
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You keep using the word "cottage". this sounds as if it's not waterfront, which to me as a home-owner in toronto, means it's not a cottage. it's just a low-priced place outside of town. if you're planning to live there, as it sounds, and it's close enough for you to get to work easy, then it's cheap housing. you mention it's surrounded by vacant lots. that usually means no real estate appreciation.
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Grimsby
Wait a minute now. At the start you agreed it was a sand point, now you are saying a well and the water is down 175 feet. Get around and ask a few neighbours before taking the well man's word for that. The difference between the well guy (16K plus 3k for a pump) and the owner at $3333 ( how on earth did he arrive at 3333 so precisely?) boggles the mind.

Aluminum siding can hide a load of sins too, what is underneath?

Why are so many in the area up for sale but not moving? Wind farm arriving any time soon?
[OP]
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Jan 1, 2012
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The owner is talking about off market service, not by code. By the code guys quote 13k for, 175 ft, $40 a foot. People are paying $800 a year for municipal water in the area, so having your own well is the cheapest option. Maybe the sand point is not so bad, it seems to have worked this long, what if i get a fibre glass sistine and just keep a reserve?
There are no enough young buyers for the amount of cottages coming on the market with the baby boomers getting too old.
Looking at the picture now, i wonder if there is too much windows in this place, do you think it will be hard to heat? Notice the sky lights, also the window come right down to the floor, annoying. I'm think i might have to fill in the two side windows, or replace the windows with smaller one. Is this idea of converting a 3 season cottage to 4 season house just not practical? A proper brick house in the area is 180k-220 but higher taxes and water.
[IMG]http://i181.photobucket.com/albums/x276 ... C_0307.jpg[/IMG]
Worst part of this deal is the owner, the son. He says,' it's a cottage you just buy you don't need a house inspections.' He says when he's dad died the house was accessed at 140k in 2003, which he had to pay the 50% capital gains on. So he's rather tight on his price of 140k. He seems to be sort of emotional about the cottage too and not a very good communicator.
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Jan 6, 2008
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If you're pretty sure the insulation in the walls/roof/floor is sufficient, the only concern i would have is the water. two things...getting it from the well to the house and from the inside to the septic tank. I don't know enough about the septic bed, but i believe they're very close to the surface. Can it freeze? and a final point, some cottages can only be occupied in the summer. there are laws. are you sure that doesn't apply to you?
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Nov 2, 2005
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WFH
silicontraveler wrote: I called a well company they say there is lots of water in that area --175 ft down. 16k they quote me for 5star well with 3k for a pump and installed. The owner says $3333 to drill. The well company says guarantee for 40 years. Do you think it's worth it? Nothing but trees around this place. I imagine the $3333 job would be good for some time too.
Septic, again he says is fine but i see a lot of moss around. Says it needs pumps outs. This place was build in the 70's so septic and well just don't last so long. I guess that is not so expensive.
I'd expect to pay a drilling fee of about $20-$25 per foot. Add to that maybe another $1000 for other stuff i.e. casing, cap, grouting, pitless adapter, poly pipe & wiring to house etc. A good submersible pump will cost you about $700 if you buy it from the US and expect to round this up to about $1000 with the other stuff you need to install. In summary the well company is overcharging about 3X on the well and about 2X on the pump. I don't know where the owner has pulled his price from but maybe you should bump your offer up a it and make it conditional on him installing a new well if he can get it done that cheaply.


stealth wrote: Septic will be your biggest worry. Your existing septic system may not even be on file with the town.

in fairness, as someone who has owned 3 cottages before, what I look for is land value....most cottages themselves are pretty crap, and can *usually* easily be torn down and rebuilt. so make sure you love the property and location and that it is priced fairly based on that, plus a few grand for the building (s).
The problem with this approach is that the well and septic won't be "grandfathered" for a new build so replacement will set him back $25K before he even starts. Just been there and decided to go the renovation route instead.


If you decide to go ahead with this make sure that your title insurance cover the replacement of illegal septic systems. It's probable that your septic bed was a DIY "overnight" install that was done without a permit. In the unlikely event that the municipality or MOE insists that it be removed the insurance will cover it.
[OP]
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Jan 1, 2012
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Just talked to the guy again, he says the roof is just discolouring from the leaves.

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