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Let's face it... buying a cottage is not like buying a condominium. There's lots to think about and, if you get it wrong, you could be on your own... or up the creek without a paddle!

This guide has some good suggestions for your consideration http://money.ca.msn.com/banking/homebuyersguide/article.aspx?cp-documentid=25932405.

My only caveat is about mistake #5 noted in the guide. A home inspector recommended by the realtor is more than acceptable. A recommendation is just that. The ultimate decision is YOURS. Get more than one recommendation. Search online for inspectors in the area where you are purchasing. Talk to other people you know or heard about who recently purchased a home. Get qualifications from all the inspectors you are considering. Who you hire is YOUR decision! You have no one to blame but YOURSELF if YOU hire someone who ultimately does a poor job. 


It may seem unfair, but if you buy a country home or cottage, you generally are buying it on an Ďas is' basis. If you want any promise or warranty, you have to ask for it. If you want it to mean anything, you have to get it in writing. Every used car gets certified, but not so for a used house!

Why not?
Because every offer, hidden away in the fine print, will say something like this:


"It is agreed that there is no representation, warranty, collateral agreement or condition affecting this Agreement or the Property... other than as expressed herein in writing."

So, if the roof leaks or the well runs dry, the problem may be yours alone unless you have protected yourself and done so in the offer, in writing.

If you want protection, you have to get it before you sign an offer. If you plan to hire one, most lawyers are only too happy to give you free advice before you sign, rather than try to get you out of trouble after you sign!
Here's an example of what your lawyer will help you with, as it applies to the purchase and one mortgage of residential properties (including recreational property for personal use):
To complete the transaction in accordance with the Practice Guidelines issued by the Law Society of Upper Canada, including, reviewing executed agreement of purchase and sale (but not including negotiating or drafting agreement) and advising in connection therewith, investigating title and checking the description, making requisitions on title and on other matters recited in the agreement; searching the arrears of realty and all other taxes and rates constituting statutory liens; advising on the applicability of GST legislation; searching for executions (judgements) against the vendors; searching for work orders and other municipal documents if required, discussing with the purchaser all matters relating to title, zoning and statement of adjustments; reviewing and executing mortgage instructions; advising the client concerning insurance requirements; advising the client with respect to property title and options for assuring title quality, including solicitorís opinion letter and title insurance; where appropriate in rural properties, advising client with respect to road access, shore allowance, septic issues, water potability and well issues; attending on execution of documents, attending to the closing, giving opinion on title or securing title insurance policy, reporting and all other services necessarily incidental thereto.
See, there's more to it than meets the eye!!

So before you buy, let's look at some of the issues that seem to come up over and over again...

      What about water?


Out here in the Country, most properties are serviced by private water wells. If you run out of water, it's between you and your plumber, and if the well is dry, so are you! When you buy, you have to know two things:


Wells are usually drilled, but some older ones are dug and some cottages have shore wells down by the lake. Whoever puts the well in should issue a "Well Drillerís Report" and file it with the Ministry of the Environment. I remember one old local well driller who always used to say he "drilled holes, and God decided whether or not they were wells!"

You should see the Well Report as soon as possible in the purchasing process. It will tell you when the well was installed, how deep it is, and will recommend a pumping rate. For a normal family use, you would want to see three or more gallons a minute.

Remember, the report is only a snapshot of how much water was being produced on the day it was written up. But youíre buying now. You may want it up dated by a plumber who can give you a "Flow Rate Report" that shows whatís down there now.

A lot of Ontario wells dry up between June and August. No one can guarantee how good a well will be, but you might try to get the vendor to warrant to you how good it has been. If you want such a warranty, you must put it in writing in the offer. (See Clauses for Offer )


It really does not matter how much water you have if it's too dirty, sulphury or salty to use. I've sniffed well water that you wouldn't bathe your dog in! And the real sticker with problem water is that there may be no where else on your lot that will give you good water.

Usually the vendor, or his agent, will provide a "Water Analysis" to show that there are no bacteria in the water - Readings should be "0-0". Anything else should be retested at least three times.

But even where there is no bacteria in water, it may be too sulphery or salty to drink. If you are buying, run the taps for a while. Taste the water before you jump in! Some problems can be treated, but at a cost and some cannot be treated successfully.
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