Things to consider when buying an acreage
Acreage living is plentiful with benefits, offering room for shops, hobbies and animals, privacy, as well as the freedom to build your home to suit your needs.
Additionally, with the rise in cost of city lots, and the flexibility that acreages afford, they are looking more appealing than ever. However, building on an acreage adds a level of complexity to contemplate when examining your options. Some of the aspects to take into consideration are the zoning, bylaws, access to water, power and utilities which you typically need not worry about in a city or town. Below, you will find a short list containing some of the pieces to evaluate when deciding if acreage living is the best option for you.
The obvious additional cost to acreage living is that the utility connection cost is not normally included. The availability of services is another thing that needs to be taken into consideration.
If the subdivision is serviced with power, there are still costs involved to get the power connected to your new home. You are responsible for the cost to have BC Hydro trench the cable to your home and install a transformer. This cost varies depending on how far your house is from the mainline. Another thing to take into consideration is the placement of your transformer in the yard.
Some areas of the province don’t have easy access to natural gas. If there isn’t gas nearby it can cost tens of thousands of dollars to be connected. Most rural subdivisions will have easy access to natural gas as the subdivision will be serviced. Similar to power, it is your responsibility to cover the cost to connect from the mainline to your home. This cost varies on distance from your house to the mainline.
One of the most important things for your home is access to a good source of water.
Some residential subdivisions have the option to hook into the city water supply. This is the most reliable source of good quality water, however, it is usually one of the most expensive.
Another option would be a well and or cistern. The cons of this being no guarantee of constant water supply or water quality. Furthermore, if a filtration/purification system or water softener is required, this is an additional cost to consider. If you are on well water you will need your own pressure system.
Septic or sewer
Options for septic and sewer depend on the size of your acreage, government regulations, the proximity of neighbours, creeks or waterways. Septic holding, pump-out system and septic field or mound all have varying costs and are accompanied by their pros and cons.
Internet and phone
While some rural subdivisions may have access to the same high-speed providers as the city, many rural areas don’t have that option. A common solution to high speed in rural areas is wireless internet. This usually requires some equipment on the outside of your house with the possibility of rental and installation fees. If high speed is a must on your acreage, then you will want to make sure to look into what options and speeds are available for what cost.
Zoning and bylaws
Many rural municipalities have different rules or bylaws on what you can and can’t do on an acreage. Research these bylaws to make sure they don’t limit your plans, but also make sure there are bylaws in place that limit things that you may not want to be allowed near your acreage.
Are you required to build specific distance setbacks from property lines?
Are shops or outbuildings permitted? At what size and how many?
Can you operate a small business from your acreage?
Are animals allowed? How many and what kind?
Are there any architectural requirements for your house? (size, height, colour, and exterior finish)
Can you install a solar farm or windmill?
Vehicle or equipment parking limitations?
Unsightly premises bylaws?
Along with municipal bylaws, the property may be in the Agricultural Land Reserve, which overrides the municipal rules. The ALR/ALC has strict limitations on building size and land use in an effort to preserve our farmlands.
Is your property easily accessible by good, quality maintained roads or highways?
If you are in a subdivision, are the internal subdivision roads looked after by the subdivision or by the municipality?
Where will your kids go to school and what are the school bus routes?
Approach and laneway
Does your property have an existing approach or will you need to build one?
Does the approach have a proper culvert?
If you need to build an approach will you be able to get approval from the municipality, ministry of highways or fisheries?
How long of a laneway will you need and what will it cost?
Some properties contain easements for things like underground power, water, and gas mains These easements usually have minimum distance setbacks stating how close you can build to them. Make sure these requirements work with the plans you have for your acreage and any future plans you may have.
What is required for a building permit and what are the fees?
Do you need engineered blueprints?
Are inspections required throughout the build and what are the costs associated with this?
Depending on your personality, skills, experiences, and resources, some of these challenges may be deal-breakers. However, you can overcome many of them by consulting and hiring professionals who specialize in acreage.
I personally love viewing acreages with clients, they are all unique, interesting and offer various opportunities. Make your acreage land purchase with eyes wide open, do your due diligence, and if you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact me. A little research is the key to finding the perfect property!