Canada is a vast land, but most of its population is clustered in urban centres.
In fact, as a whole, we have one of the lowest population densities in the world, with only four people per square kilometre. When newcomers arrive, though, they usually choose large cities like Toronto or Vancouver, or look at homes for sale in London, Ontario or Ottawa homes for saleif they want more affordable medium-sized cities.
Nevertheless, there’s still about 20 per cent of the population living in rural areas, and many more who have second homes or cottages. The Globe and Mail, in fact, recently reported on a study from Toronto-Dominion Bank which said millennials are twice as interested in owning a recreational property than the rest of the population, and Bloomberg Newsreports that Ontario cottage country is in such high demand that cottages on Lake Joseph, for example, have doubled in value in the last decade.
But when seeking out such a property, it’s essential to get a proper home inspection.
“Rural properties are unique and the buildings are rarely as straightforward as they tend to be in urban areas,” says William J. Handley, registered home inspector and founder of Handley Home Inspections.
Those used to buying property in the city are likely unaware of the special needs of rural properties, so Zoocasa, with the help of Handley, compiled a list of five things you need to know:
- Always hire a home inspector
“One way to mitigate some of the unique challenges to developing a full understanding of a home’s complexities is to hire an OAHI inspector that is knowledgeable in cottage and rural properties,” Handley says. So tap into the services of an experienced RHI inspector help you in your home-buying journey. On top of a regular inspection, you may also need specialized inspectors for your septic system and wood-burning appliances.
- Plumbing will be different
How residents access water in rural areas is very different than the city-run tap-water system. You may have a dug well, drilled well, waterfront intakes, water pumps, foot valves or pressure tanks. A qualified home inspector will help you identify your water source and make sure it is safe.
- Beware before flushing
Unlike city-run sewage systems, rural areas often have septic systems, which is a private sanitary system, which remains on the property. Septic tanks which are constructed properly and which accommodate only household wastewater, generally will operate without much maintenance required. However, solids and scum accumulate in the tanks over time and must be pumped out regularly in order to ensure the system continues to function without letting solids enter the leaching bed that can cause the system to fail.
If there are major issues, installing a new one can be a major expense, often in the $10,000 to $25,000 range, and even more in difficult terrain or type of septic system required. That’s why it’s absolutely essential to have an additional inspection performed with a licensed septic inspector, on top of your regular home inspection.
- Additional structures
Often, cottages will have a main house and then additional small structures, such as a loft, boathouse, garage, shed or dock system all constructed with various materials. All of these areas must be inspected as well to make sure they are sound and are not rotting or infested.
WETT stands for Wood Energy Technology Transfer, and its inspectors make sure that wood-burning appliances are meeting modern safety standards. Insurance companies may also require that all fireplaces, stoves, pellet stoves and wood furnaces are certified to be up to code. Like septic tanks, this is an additional inspection.
Overall, although prospective buyers may find that the inspection needs of rural properties are more involved than those in urban areas, the rewards of living among Canada’s stunning landscape are rich.
Zoocasa.com is a leading real estate company that combines online search tools and a full-service brokerage to empower Canadians to buy orsell their homes faster, easier and more successfully. Homebuyers can browse real estate listings on the website or the free iOS app.
About the OAHI
Through education and advocacy the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors cultivates a thriving home inspection industry based on the highest standards of professional development and ethical standards. In doing so, OAHI cultivates the ‘gold standard’ for home inspectors among consumers and the government. OAHI is the only provincially recognized body of home inspectors by The Ontario Association of Home Inspectors Act, 1994. OAHI is a not-for-profit association.
OAHI member inspectors see homes differently.