Thursday 23 June 2022

Turning on the Tap

When you live in a city or town, domestic water is generally not thought about much, unless water restrictions are enacted. However, for those who live outside the boundaries of cities and towns, domestic water is an important issue when setting up a property. Where will the water come from? How will it be used? How much will be needed? All of these questions should be answered when considering a remote or rural property. If the property already has a home in place, prospective buyers should be asking the same questions about any water system in place.

Domestic water outside of city water systems generally comes from three sources: groundwater through wells; surface water through springs, creeks or rivers; and rain water. (There are other options, such as desalination plants if one lives on the ocean or water delivery which many  road-access island communities use in the dry summers when wells and cisterns are empty.) 


The Water Act of BC defines what licencing is required and what that licence entitles one to. A licence will define where the water may be taken from, how much water will be taken and what the water will be used for. 


If the property has an existing well, it may be possible to look up information. The province does track wells installed by well drillers, however this database was voluntary before 2016. This is something we regularly look up for our remote and recreational listings.


Rain water collection is commonly done through pipes/gutters that drain into a holding tank (sometimes called a cistern) which can be either above or below ground. The holding tank then has pipes that direct the water to where it is needed, either by gravity-feed or through a pump system.


Many recreational and remote property owners use tanks to store additional water no matter what water source is used. This is especially useful on the west coast, where we tend to have plenty of water in the wet winter months and less in the summer months when the properties are seeing heavier use. Other properties will use a hybrid system, collecting rainwater for garden use for example, while using well water for inside the residence.


Knowing where the water is coming from, or what the options are to get water, makes for good peace of mind when considering an unconventional property.

It's a Coastal Lifestyle ... Live It!


Thursday 9 June 2022

Power Considerations

 When dealing with recreational and remote properties there are considerations that don't come up with regular residential properties. For instance - is there power and where does it come from?

Some recreational and remote properties are close enough to small communities that they can hook into existing BC Hydro power supplies. It can be surprising how many boat access communities, such as Quatsino on the NW coast of Vancouver Island, actually have power from BC Hydro. This is then just like obtaining power for any new property - lines need to be accessed and power brought into the property through coordination with BC Hydro, neighbouring properties and local communities.

What are the options for locations with no established power grid?

Gas fuel is one of the most commonly used power sources. This involves generators and usually a battery bank to store power so that the generators aren't running all the time. This requires gas to be brought on to the property, and general upkeep on the equipment. Some smaller communities, such as in the Discovery Islands, have regularly scheduled gas deliveries arranged with barge companies and local suppliers, while in other cases deliveries are arranged individually or gas is brought in by the owner.

Solar power is now a common choice, and it is not unusual to see a house or cottage with an array of solar panels on the roof, or as a stand-alone system. These supply a battery bank which stores the energy. Some larger properties use solar power but keep a gas generator on hand as an emergency back-up system. Often there is a hybrid approach, with lighting being solar power driven and appliances being gas, for example.

Another option for those who have access to a running water supply is personal use hydro-power. This requires a license for the water use, and on a good, strong water source can be a great power supply. There are a variety of set-ups depending on the amount of power required.

All of the options have pros and cons when it comes to upkeep, initial cost of installation and materials, efficiency, etc. It requires some good research both on the options and the property itself. At BCO we have a good deal of information on alternative energy and are always looking out for new and innovative ideas in power for remote/recreational properties.

It's a Coastal Lifestyle ... Live It!