Buying a Cottage


Buying a cottage is different from buying a home.   There are similarities in its process of searching, finding, and determining its fit for your needs, but because a cottage has the added benefit of being located on land adjacent to a lake or river giving it the potential to be a wonderful get-away, it also gives opportunity for more problems.  Along with the benefits, come added responsibility as a smart buyer to diligently seek out potential problem areas associated with cottage country property and to make a wise purchase that will guarantee a wonderful, headache-free, future family get-away.

A cottage can be small or large, winterized or not.  Its property can be water accessible or waterfront.  When conducting your search, decide beforehand what your needs are, and select your choice after a thorough investigation of the property.

Often a cottage is an older building with structural defects and deficiencies and not built according to code requirements.  Usually without a foundation and set upon footings or pillars, a cottage may settle over time, resulting in movement in walls and floors.  As well, roof framing may not be adequate to prevent sagging, carry snow load, or allow proper drainage, resulting in deterioration.  Additions such as porches or decks may have been built without proper permitting and may be insufficient in structural capacity.  Along with structural issues, are those concerning building materials used at time of construction, such as windows, doors, insulation, vapour barrier, etc.  When ready to purchase, sit down with your realtor and employ his skills in drafting up an offer to purchase that will guarantee that nothing is overlooked or unaccounted for.


A good realtor will add conditional clauses in your offer, one stating that you request opportunity to have inspections done by those who are adept with cottage properties.  Such specialists will test and qualify the structure of buildings as well as the quality of water and waste disposal associated with the property and verify any contractual agreements in their regards.  If there are shared agreements, they will be identified along with your rights and responsibilities of maintenance.  To protect yourself as a buyer, include a conditional clause in your paperwork for proper inspection of the sewage and water systems guaranteeing their installation has been made according to environmental protection certificates and approvals, and that they are in good working order.

If the property sports a dock or boathouse built on the lakefront, and therefore on public shore lands, a clause conditional upon determination that the building of these has been approved and properly permitted by government authorities is also in order.

Another aspect unique to cottage country to be considered when deciding on a purchase, is access.   Is the property accessible by a public or private road?  If access is via a private road, is right of way registered and guaranteed?  Is the road open year round?  Who maintains it and at what cost to the cottage owner?


Finally, when drafting up an offer, be sure to make it conditional upon obtaining an up-to-date survey to be assured that all building zoning bylaws have been adhered to as well as mapping out any easements, encroachments, and rights of way applicable to the property.

Making yourself an informed buyer of a cottage property’s benefits as well as drawbacks, and covering all potential problematic aspects in your offer to purchase, will give you a better opportunity to purchase a home away from home, that wonderful getaway just right for you and your family, headache free!




~ by shirleyliseblogspot on March 21, 2013.

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