Yes, I am happy to announce that we have just acquired some land. Back in this post I mentioned that buying land was step 5 in our 9 step plan to get to the point of starting to build. Well, scratch that one off the list now.
I’m sure you’re all wondering what we bought, where it is and what it looks like, so I won’t delay any further. Let’s get right to the pictures.
It’s a bit odd looking, admittedly. It’s roughly 15.8 hectares (39 acres). It has a nice hill on it and lots of trees. Here’s a picture of it in summer.
Yes, lot’s of green stuff there. Some trees will need to be sacrificed, but, as my Dad keeps telling me, trees are a renewable resource, when managed properly 🙂 What kinds of trees are they, you may ask? Well, here is another picture in early spring.
It looks almost naked now. That’s because most of the trees are hardwoods, so they don’t have their leaves out yet. That could mean some significant dollar value to the lumber, if I were to sell it. I’m looking more to see about renting one of those portable saw mills and milling it myself and keeping it. More work, but having your own lumber on hand could save some dollars too.
Anyway, I know you’re all anxious to see what other features it comes with. First off, it comes with a driveway already built right from the road up to the top of the hill.
It will need some work, otherwise nature will just take over. There is also an old shed which isn’t in the best shape, but might be useful for storing some building materials.
We even have our own spring fed pond. It comes conveniently with its own bench for you to sit and enjoy it. Though it was raining when these pictures were taken in early spring, so it doesn’t look too fun. It’s also really full too; we did have quite a wet spring.
On top of all of that, it also comes with a large trailer which will be really handy for having somewhere to stay while building. It will need some power and water, but having somewhere convenient to stay on your own property is quite advantageous.
There is also another, smaller shed behind the trailer. The trailer is only ten years old and was in nice shape (we did get to look inside it).
If you look on those satellite images, you can see a sizable lake to the south of the property. Our property doesn’t touch the lake, but it comes within about 10 meters (roughly 30 feet) of it. We walked down and took a look at it.
Pretty exciting stuff, but a whole lot of kafuffle to acquire. You don’t really think about things like mineral rights, right of way, year round access and all that when you buy a house in a city. But these are all things you need to pay attention to when buying land.
First off, we didn’t want anything we didn’t have easy access to. You can find land for sale that there is no way to get to except by boat, through crown land or over someone else’s property and usually they are quite cheap. But imagine all of the extra expenses you will have if you have to build a road to your property, let alone on your land.
You also don’t want to have to deal with crossing a neighbour’s land to get to yours. You may be able to swing a deal with the current neighbours, but that may change if the neighbours change and it can make a messy legal battle. Something else to avoid.
It also helps if the road you have to your property is maintained year round. No sense building a house you can’t get out of during the winter because the road isn’t ploughed. Unless, of course, you own one of these things.
That could be fun too, but we don’t have one.
What about things like mineral rights? Well, that, as it turns out, is some work. Much of that is discovered through the title search done by the lawyer. In Ontario, things can be weird with regards to mineral rights. You can, in fact, purchase a piece of land, live on it and someone else can own the mineral rights. It’s a bit retarded, if you ask me, but that’s what we have. They can’t walk onto your land and start drilling holes, as that would be trespassing, but they could tunnel under your land from an adjacent lot and there wouldn’t be anything you could do about it. So, we wanted to make sure the mineral rights were included. This turned out to be an interesting process.
The initial title search done by the lawyer didn’t turn up anything regarding mineral rights. So we had to get someone down in Belleville, ON where the land patent registration office is located to find out when the patents for the land were issued. Apparently there is a magic date of May 6, 1913 when some mineral rights act law came into effect that is important. If the land patent for the lot you are buying was issued before that date, you are okay, because anything before then is considered null and void and the rights pass to the owner. If, however, the land patents were issued after that, you need to do more searching. As it turned out, we had to do more searching.
The initial report back from Belleville was that the land patents were issued after that magic date. What this meant was we had to actually obtain copies of the land patents from the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) as they are the organization in charge of these things. My lawyer requested the land patents (there was more than one, as the land we bought occupies parts of more than one lot) and we received them in good time. As it turned out, the patents were issued in 1902 so it ended up there were no problems with gaining the mineral rights. Yay! All is good… or is it?
Interestingly, there was some additional information listed on the land patents to the tune of a Crown timber reservation on white pine. Back in the early days the government used a lot of white pine for things like the navy and so forth. This was not a good thing for us, however. There isn’t a lot of pine trees on our lot, but if we need to remove one and weren’t allowed to, this could cause major issues.
So, back to the MNR. My Dad, being a former MNR forester got me in contact with the right people and it was determined that all of the timber reservations that were listed on the land patents were null and void due to the Free Grants and Homestead Act. Whew! All was good.
Our closing day is today, July 15th, 2014. It wasn’t a very smooth process, but you do need to make the effort to ensure you aren’t going to end up with a legal mess later on. If you plan on buying some land, do your research and make sure you’re getting everything you want.