Tuesday, August 28, 2012

What to look for when looking to buy a cottage?

When you are buying a cottage, there are things that you need to look for and things that you should not worry about.

When you are buying a cottage it’s not the same thing as buying a house. There are different things to look for in cottages that you usually don’t worry about when buying houses.

When you are looking to buy a cottage that is on water you need to look at your budget, your wants and needs and then determine if you are going to buy a house on the water or are you looking to buy a cottage on the water? This might sound like the same thing but it’s not, here are the differences;

Cottages are not always insulated where homes on the water always will be. This is the reason that when you look at a real estate listing it will tell you if the cottage is a season cottage or a year round cottage.

Cottages usually do not have a central heating source. Homes always will have a central heating source. Cottages typically have baseboard heaters and or wood fireplaces as heat to sustain you for your short stay or the occasion cold night in the summer or early spring/fall.

Cottages might not have a true foundation where houses always will. Some cottages are built on concrete piers, built on crawl spaces, built on top of solid rock, slab on grade and sometimes they are built sitting on the ground.

Cottages will not have city water and sometimes will not even have well water. Houses always need a source of fresh water. When looking at cottages you need to find out if there is drinkable water, is there a well or is it coming out of the lake? In a lot of places it’s easier and cheaper to bring your drinking water with you then to install a proper well or water treatment to clean the water so that it is drinkable.

Outside finishing’s. In cottages the look of the cottage on the outside is less important than how it functions. Houses on the other hand are usually the other way all together. A cottage exterior is usually put on to keep the weather and animals out while blending into the natural surroundings.

Inside finishing’s. Cottages are usually designed inside with the idea that it should be easy to maintain. Function over fashion in a cottage rules the day. In homes a lot of energy is put into the way the house flows and the look that you are trying to accomplish.

Septic system. Most cottages will not be on city sewers and some of them will not have a septic system at all. There are a lot of ways to deal with waste once it goes down the drain. Today you can still find cottages that have a holding tank and sometimes that holding tank just has a pipe that runs out into the lake. Houses will always have a septic system; it will have to be designed for a lot of use because the idea is that houses are made to be lived in all the time, not just stayed in over the weekend.

There a lot problems with setbacks, building permits, septic permits, well permits and lot definitions. In houses typically all of this is well defined, in cottages depending on the age and the location the cottage might be too close to the water, over the property line or been built with no inspections. These things you have to be careful with because in the future they could come back and land you in court when you try to change something or resell the property yourself.

Kitchens in cottages are usually an afterthought. As long they have all the amenities like a counter, sink, fridges and some cabinets to place dishes in. Houses will have all the modern fixtures including a dishwasher.

One of the best ways to tell in what shape a cottage is in is to walk into the house after the cottage has been closed up for a week or so. Use your nose and smell the stale air, do you smell anything? Does the air smell of moisture? Do you smell mold? Cottages should smell a little, they are not cleaned regularly and do not have furnaces to move around the stale air. Old carpets and furniture can also make a cottage smell.

Remember to look past the furniture, light fixtures, curtains and bad furniture. Look at the bones of the house, look at the lot and last but not least look at the water front. Finding nice waterfront is harder to find then a nice cottage.

Rob Abbott
Operations manager
Village Builders Inc.

1 comment:

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