Buying a new property can be overwhelming and intimidating especially a rural property. You never know for sure if you are asking the right questions or if you are even getting informed answers to those questions. Here is a guideline of common information that people should have when purchasing rural property. Hopefully this will help you ask the right question to the right people and do some of your own investigating to feel more at ease with your final decision.
Make sure you have a very experienced realtor. It will make your shopping experience easier. If you are buying rural property there are realtors that have taken special courses to expand their knowledge in the process. Remember that a realtor is not ticketed in all trades and by no means is qualified as a home or property inspector. A lot of the time the only information they have is the information that the home owner has given them. A good realtor will make sure they do their homework so they can answer your questions accurately.
A reputable home inspector is also another key to making a final decision to purchasing home. The definition of a home inspector and a home inspection by the Alberta government and taken directly from the Alberta website http://www.servicealberta.gov.ab.ca/1773.cfm is:
“A Home Inspector is defined as an individual who is employed by one or more home inspection businesses to conduct home inspections.”
“A Home Inspection means an opinion as to the condition of a dwelling based primarily on a non-invasive examination of readily accessible features and components of the dwelling.”
They are certified and have been educated in the field but that still doesn’t mean that they are certified in all trades. If you are ever in doubt of a specific feature about the property (eg. Roofing, electrical, septic system, water system,) contact someone that specializes in that specific trade. Make sure you are using the right “experts” for the job.
When you are inspecting the property an important feature to look at is your water source. Does it come from a water well or cistern? A water well is water that is drawn from underground called an aquifer or groundwater. It would be important to have the water tested for quality. You would also want to test the production of the well to see if it would produce enough to supply the occupancy. Testing the pumping equipment should also be done to see if is to standard. You can also do a registered well search at http://www.groundwater.alberta.ca . This testing cannot usually be done by a home inspector and you will have to call someone with experience in this field.
Another water source for the property is a cistern. A cistern is a water tank that is usually buried underground and then is filled with a water truck at a fee. When inspecting the cistern you should see if it is CSA approved, and ask if it’s ever been cleaned. You would also want to make sure the pump system is adequate. This inspection is also not usually done by a home inspector but by someone who specializes in water systems. There are pros and cons to each water system and each system might have its own added features. It is up to you to decide if it meets the requirements that you want.
The septic system on the property is another utility that if not up to code or expectations, could cost thousands of dollars to upgrade or replace. If the septic system is failing it can also affect your water source quality which can make you or animals sick as well as having other environmental effects. Your septic system is more than just a flushing toilet and no house inspector or realtor is qualified to inspect a septic system in Alberta unless ticketed by the Alberta Government with a certificate of competency for private sewage systems. Every ticketed person should have a card issued by the government with a certification number. Do not hesitate to ask to see the card of the person you are considering to inspect the septic system. Do not hesitate to ask your county office of a list of reputable septic system installers/designers that would be qualified to do this inspection. It is also a good idea to see if permits were pulled when the septic system was installed.
When buying most property it is mandatory through the lending company to get a Real Property Report (RPR). This report will give you a lot of information about the property. Some of the things a Real Property Report includes is: A diagram with the legal land location, municipal address, property dimension and boundaries. Designation of all adjacent properties, roads, and lanes etc. Right of ways and easements and location dimensions to visible encroachments onto or off the property. It should also be signed, stamped, and copyrighted. This information will give you a visual of what is all going on with the property from a birds eye view. It will show you if there is pipe lines or lease sites or other obstructions that you might not have know about from your visit to the property. It is also good to find out if there is any other restrictions or bylaws in the area or property such as: buildings, animals, parking, fences etc.
It is always a good idea to see previous utility bills and land tax bills to get an idea of what to expect if you were to live there. Also asking about cellular service and internet providers and hookup fees is another avenue to investigate. Will you be having a garbage pickup service or will you have to be taking your own garbage to the nearest land fill? Where will your children go to school and is there bus pick up? Where is the nearest hospital?
This is a guide line to making an informed decision on what property would be good for you. Remember that you are in charge of your purchasing experience and the more knowledge you collect the more comfortable you will feel making that decision.
Written by, Amanda Opdendries
Nicline Backhoe Services Ltd.