A Guideline to Buying a Home in a Rural Area

The MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors provide a guideline to buying a home in a rural area, including suggestions on issues to consider when buying a rural home.

| February/March 2003

The MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors' provide a guideline to buying a home in a rural area.

A Guideline to Buying a Home in a Rural Area

If you've decided that you want to plant your roots in a rural area, you'll need to consider these additional issues.

Water. How is the property supplied with water? If there's a well, make your offer contingent on inspections to confirm the well is in good condition. You may want to specify that the well provide a certain number of gallons per minute. Have the water tested for nitrates, bacteria and any other possible contaminants that may endanger your health. (Ask the health department what problems may be present in the local water supply.)

If there is not a water source on the property, be sure to take that into account when you decide how much you're willing to offer. If you plan to drill a well, realize there is always a chance the driller will not be able to locate water on the property. You may be able to get some idea in advance of the odds you'll find good water by checking with hydrologists at the agency that regulates water use in your state.

Sewage. Most country properties use a septic system to process graywater and sewage from sinks, showers and toilets. The homeowner's disclosure may indicate the septic system has worked well in the past, but you should still request an inspection as part of the purchase offer agreement. If you're buying land, the seller should have conducted a preliminary "perc" test to determine if the soil and site are suitable for a conventional septic system. Check local rules; be sure you know what will be required before you make a purchase offer.

Electricity. Today, the utility grid supplies most rural homes with power. If there's currently no electric service to the property and you want to tap into grid power, you'll need the electric company to give you a bid on bringing in lines. If a pole is already on the property, only a line has to be dropped to the buildings and a meter installed, a relatively inexpensive procedure. If there's no pole adjacent to the property, the cost easily may run into thousands of dollars, depending on how far the line must be run from the nearest pole. Investigate installing underground lines, which may be more attractive and dependable — and sometimes not much more costly.

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