How To Buy Your Country Dream
...Without Having A Nightmare!
Water Issuesby Phil Hoover
Phil is a licensed real estate broker affiliated with RE/MAX West in Boise, Idaho.
Few country properties offer the convenience of being hooked up to a municipal (piped, treated) water supply. Therefore, you probably will be considering properties that depend upon a well to supply drinking water.
We take drinking water for granted in most parts of the country, but you can't automatically assume that all properties will have an adequate supply of good water. When you have a well, you have to be concerned with both the quantity and quality of water the well supplies. Both can be tested before you buy the property.
To test the output, or quantity of water the well produces, you can perform a well discharge test. This is simply a test where a technician pumps water from the well for a specified amount of time, usually three to four hours. This test can be done with the existing pump in the well, or with a portable pump provided by the technician. Most experts recommend using a high capacity pump that can pump greater volumes of water than the well produces to get a true reading of the gallons per minute of well discharge. For example, if you have a fifteen gallon per minute well and use a ten gallon per minute pump for the test, you'll never know the true capacity of your well.
The quality of the water the well produces is just as important as the quantity. You can have two separate tests done to determine the quality of water that the well produces.
The first is a potability test to verify that the water is safe for human consumption. The main purpose of this test is to verify that the well contains no contamination, and that the water is safe for human consumption. Many lenders require such a test before they will lend on country property.
The second test is a mineral analysis, which provides information on iron, sulphur, acid, hardness, and other characteristics of the water. It's not uncommon to find well water that is high in acid, for example. This condition can result in damage to copper plumbing, but can be treated by installing a neutralizing filter in the water system. Hard water is also a common problem, and can be corrected with the installation of a water softener.
Digging Your Own Well
If you're considering the purchase of a property without a proven water supply, you'll have some difficult choices to make. You can go ahead and take a chance, hoping that you'll find good water when you drill a well after completing your purchase.
Or, you can drill a well before completing your purchase of the property. Many country property buyers make their purchase offers contingent upon drilling a satisfactory well, with the acceptable gallons per minute and quality of water clearly specified in the contract. If you choose this strategy, plan to spend $20 or more per foot for drilling costs in most parts of the country, with no guarantee that water will be found.
Those costs are negotiable between the buyer and seller, so plan to do some hard bargaining.
After drilling a new well, you should get a copy of the well driller's report. This document will show the types of soils encountered while drilling, the depth of the well, the depth at which water was first observed, the gallons per minute of water produced by the well, and other details.
You should realize that the gallons per minute noted on the report may not be an accurate indication of the actual quantity of water your well can produce. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that most well drillers test the well discharge by blowing compressed air into the well to determine the amount of water available. This common practice can result in a distorted reading. That's why a well discharge test performed over a period of several hours will usually provide a better indication of your well's output.
You also should realize that the cost of drilling the well is not the end of it. You'll still need to install a pump and pressure system to deliver the water from the well to the house. This can easily cost several thousand dollars, depending upon the complexity of the system you choose.
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