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7 things to know before buying property on the water

Date Wednesday, 9 September 2015 5:23 PM

Building a new home on a waterfront property gives you endless days of swimming and relaxing by the lapping waves. Here's what to keep in mind as you look.

Starting the day with a gorgeous view of the ocean, relaxing in the evening to the gentle crash of the steady waves ... sounds like the perfect recipe for your own dream home. As the saying goes, they just aren't making coastal properties like they used to, and the limited nature of this attraction makes for a wise investment if you have the chance to nab one. 

Australia is fortunate to have over 47,000 kilometres of coastline, according to the government's figures, with our stunning beaches forming a core part of our culture and national identity. However, building a home on the water does come with some considerations. Here's what you should keep in mind before buying waterfront property: 

1. What access rights will you have?  

Learn whether the beach is private or public and what rights come with owning the property - including which activities are permitted in the water. You often gain access to beaches even if you're a few streets back from the coast, which may be a more affordable option.

2. Is the water clean? Do the coastal characteristics fit your goals?  

Are you looking for calm waters or a surfers' paradise?Are you looking for calm waters or a surfer's paradise?

You should evaluate the quality of the water and beach or landscape, ensuring that the depth, purity, tides and so on meet your requirements. Ask about rip tides, channels and usage permissions to ensure you have the boaters' paradise, family swim spot or surfers' zone you seek.

3. Will you have additional costs for footing, foundation, septic and so on?  

Depending on the soil quality, building close to the water can require special measures for your house's foundational structure and utilities. 

4. How should you prepare your property against the elements?  

The local builders at G.J. Gardner Homes can help you choose the right materials for a beach property.The local builders at G.J. Gardner Homes can help you choose the right materials for a beach property.

Waterfront properties must withstand salty wind and other elements. Designing your house with the right materials will significantly cut down on your maintenance and upkeep costs. Evaluate whether there's good drainage and how high the tides rise.

5. What's your risk for natural disasters?  

Know whether your property is in the line of fire for cyclones, flooding and storm surges. Not only will these impact how close you should build your home to the water, it can also affect your insurance rates. 

6. What safety precautions should you take?  

Take precautions to keep your youngsters safe at your new waterfront home.Take precautions to keep your youngsters safe in your new waterfront home.

Particularly if you have small children or pets, you'll want to have water safety at the forefront of your mind. From installing alarms on doors to creating gated areas for youngsters to play in, understand the risks at your beach and guard against them. Additionally, find out when structures like docks were last inspected.

7. Is the property protected against erosion? 

The ebb and flow of the waves, along with wind and rain, are responsible for some of the remarkable coastal formations along Australia's boarder. However, erosion can also wear away at your land, possibly decreasing the size of your property, putting your house in danger and lowering the value of your asset. 

Check whether erosion is a concern for the land you're thinking of buying and ask whether any preventive measures - such as seawalls and sand dunes - have been put in place (or could be) to protect your space. 

This is far from an extensive list when deciding on a waterfront property. Speak with a local house builder for more advice while choosing land and planning your new home.

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