Well the picture says it all. I finally found a lot that I could buy. It is not my favorite lot, but it is not bad. There was a house on it once, so there is a well. The water tower for the small town is only about a kilometer away but the main line does not run out as far as the property. But who knows what next year will bring? The lot is just over 1/2 an acre and is a triangle. Triangles must be my thing this year, because the other lot I put an offer in on was also a triangle.
There is a rule in Real Estate investing that if your first offer is accepted you offered too much. Well my first offer was accepted. There were some extenuating circumstances on the sellers side that played into my favor. When I told another agent, familiar with the area, how much I paid, his comment was that I scored a very good deal.
Most people would think that buying a lot is easier than buying a house. But there are just as many things to have to check out. They are different things as well. Like can you build on the lot? What size of house is allowed? What about water and sewage? Can you bring a drive way into the property? None of these apply to an existing house. There was a house on the property at one time, so some of these were easy to check.
On the water and sewage side, there is a well and there is a septic tank. Septic tanks seem to scare city people. I don’t understand why. They are even more environmentally safe than a water treatment plant. When it rains heavy, your tank does not overflow and contaminate the yard. They are basically problem free, require almost no maintenance, and they keep the grass green. Just follow the rules about what you can flush. (dead gold fish are OK, but diapers are not.) If you need to get a tank pumped (the pump out guys recommend every 3 years) that is the only cost. I have owned properties for over ten years where there was never a problem and we did not pump the tank.
Many people today have made testing the tank a condition of purchase. This normally involves having the tank lids dug up, and watching the fluid level while they run every tap in the house for about an hour. (That also tests the well.) If the level does not change substantially the system is working. This can cost the seller $1000.00 to $3000.00. Expect some negotiation on that condition. I have had more expense with broken and blocked sewer lines than with septic problems.
Since there is an existing well, we had to check the well condition. There are two types of wells, Dug wells, and Drilled wells. Dug wells are often not that deep. 30 to 40 ft is a very deep dug well. They are used where the water is close to the surface or where there is an underground spring. I had one property where the well was only 18 ft deep,but had hit 2 springs. Absolutely excellent water, and lots of it. Dug wells can either use a pump in the house, called a jet pump, or a submersible pump usually in the actual well. If the pump is in the house you might hear it when it runs. Submersible pumps make noise but since it is in the well, you don’t hear it. Jet pumps generally can only move water about 100 ft. Submersible pumps can move water much farther.
Drilled wells can be well over 100 ft. When you see the big truck with the tower on the back, that is normally doing a drilled well. I have a friend in Nevada that has 990 ft drilled well. You can see the well pipe sticking up above the ground somewhere in the yard. Most, not all, drilled wells use a submersible pump. It does not matter which kind of well you have. The water that you get from either kind of well is the same. To get a mortgage in Ontario you must be able to deliver a flow of 3 gallons a minute.
If you are buying a house in the country, make sure one of the conditions is a passing water sample. This means the local Health Unit has tested the water. When buying an empty lot, remember that you will have to put in a well. Check what that will cost and offer accordingly. Even in the city, it is worth finding out what it costs to hook up to the water system. I looked at one property that had a well but also had city water across the street. The quote I got for hooking into the city supply was over $35,000.00. We kept the well.
Regardless of which well you have, you will have a pressure system somewhere in the house. This has a tank to hold the water and the air pressure. These tanks come in different sizes. If there are just two people in the house a small tank will do. If you have a family, you want a bigger tank. Tanks can either mount on the jet pump, (on the left) or be free standing. (on the right).
My daughter is in love with “Tiny Homes”. She can not understand why there are not more of them around. She keeps asking me to buy property and put up a tiny home community. One of the things that most municipalities have is a minimum building size. I have found that 900 sq ft is pretty common. That is much larger than the standard Tiny Home. You need to check what your municipality rules are, if you want to build a very small home. You also need need to check if the house you want to build will fit onto the property. There are rules as to what the minimum distance a house has to be from the road, from each side boundary, and the rear. In the country these distances are much larger than in a city.
Also you need a permit for just about everything you do. We all expect a building permit, but you might also need an entrance (driveway) permit, and a septic permit. A trip to the local municipal office can usually clear up how many permits you need, and how much they are.
All of this affects the value of a vacant lot. A lot that has a well, is worth more than one without. If there is an existing drive way that is worth something. Comparing lot values is often far more difficult that comparing houses. There are fewer of them on the market, and they vary quite a bit.
The agent I used, Sandi Chabassol of Exit Realty, knew most of the answers, but you should always check for your self. So the next step is getting a building permit, and digging a basement. That might not happen till spring 2019. The excavating guys are very busy. Digging basements, and putting in foundations, is something I contract out. It would take me a week to dig the basement with my equipment. When ever I start I will post the progress.