Waterfront Wow Factor
The Garden Bay area is special for its very much feeling of privacy and feeling of remoteness. Yet in reality you are half hour from Sechelt, and only an hour plus from the ferry to Vancouver. EKAN recently completed a waterfront inspection on a pleasing acreage with a detached cabin. It was an end of February morning. The temperature hovered around zero. The property had an aggressive slope all the way to the water’s edge.
As a property inspector, we are always careful with every step taken. We’ve been on construction sites for decades. We know that slips, trips and falls are one of the most common injuries encountered. So when we drove down the steep driveway to a parking area, our tingly senses were on high alert for where to place every footstep.
As we walked the property, we made note of the range of creativity in stairs development. Poured concrete, steel runners with wood plank steps, cut logs held in in place with rebar stakes, natural ground and bedrock. It was a super example of phased development. After all, that’s the whole purpose of owning an acreage. You can do your own thing.
Your stairway to heaven or a mobility limitation?
Now that the property was on the market, the stairs were being subjected to an unbiased review of an inspector. Here are some issues that went through our thought process.
- Does the buyer have the physical dexterity to walk the stairs and paths without upset or injury.
- Groceries and supplies have a relatively long distance to travel between the parked car and house.
- Will the buyer’s children be exposed to fall hazards?
- How about the buyer’s senior relatives and friends. Will they find the walks challenging?
- Persons with mobility issues will require escorted support to navigate the property.
- Nightfall. The walkways will be challenging at night without some level of illumination. Alternatively, you can always have a flashlight or smartphone app to carry and light your way.
- Wintertime is different. If the property is going to be used during snow covered periods, expect to park the car up at the top of the property. It will be a long walk down. Is the buyer prepared to accept that limitation?
- Does the buyer want to have the option to earn extra income by short or long term rentals? If so, then this situation requires further discussion with the insurance provider. What liability, if any, will the owner have if a short term renter or long term tenant sustain an injury while using the pathways on the acreage.
We are not against sloped properties, by any means. It’s just we have to bring up issues that a buyer, in an emotionally charge purchasing environment, may choose to overlook. In fact, we once purchased a much overlooked home in West Vancouver that had such a steep driveway, that buyers were immediately turned-off. Once we purchased the house and moved in, all our visitors preferred to park at the roadside and walk down. For us it wasn’t too bad, once we got used to it. But we always made sure that our brakes and parking break were in tip-top condition. We loved that house because to us the slope was a unique feature, with a house that was built to take advantage of the topography.
How to deal with pathways on slopes…
The buyer can be as laissez faire or proactive as they choose. Here are some available options.
Do absolutely nothing. It’s your property and you can do as you want.
Provide solar powered or low voltage footpath lighting.
Mount floodlights with proximity sensors.
Use a pole mounted yard light that comes on in the evening, with an adjustable on-off timer.
Install a simple but sturdy handrail along the sloped pathways, even where there are no steps. At least you will have a handhold in case of a slip.
Finally you can choose to build more steps if the pathway as is presents a safety risk in your opinion, or limits your use and enjoyment of the property.