Quality Build Markers for Buyers | Gambier Island

Abstract: Gambier Island Home Inspection notes on how to identify a quality build. We discuss how savvy buyers can spot a superior development by more than just asking price.

We recently completed a home inspection of a waterfront property in the West Bay Landing development. The house was not large, only 600 sq ft on each level. But built so well by our local builders, that it was a real gem to inspect. Although it was a seasonal use property, it was built to a full-time living residential standard.

When one considers how much it now costs to build a house from scratch on an island, both for labour and material, purchasing a well developed existing property makes a lot of sense. Here are some signs of a superior development in a waterfront property:

Dock and access ramp well secured, with concrete footings, heavy duty aluminum structural steel, non-skid surfaces, evenly floating (not water logged), secondary ramp off dock for easy pull-out of tenders, kayaks or inflatables, wooden decks without warp or rot.

Walkway from dock to house is ‘normal’, meaning it does not require Cirque du Soleil qualifications to navigate. For some reason, many low bank and mid-bank stairways are considered an afterthought and are inconsistent in terms of step rise and run. Some just disappear and the owners must assume their visitors become mountain goats at some point in the ascent or descent. Let me tell you it is pure joy to be able to climb up a properly built staircase.

Most waterfront properties on Gambier Island are steep. This means that when it rains, water rushes down the slopes and finds the most convenient path to the bottom. The foundations of a house built on the sloped lot will be in the direct path of the surface water drainage, where the flow hits the front face and then has to go under or around the foundations to continue its downward descent. So foundations will be continually be exposed to wet conditions, unless something is done to divert the rainwater. That diversion is usually a diagonal ditch above the house. Better known as a ‘cut-off ditch’, this shallow trench will pickup the surface water flow off the hillside and direct it to the sides of the property, away from the foundations. Good construction practice!

Then there is the landscaping. There are lots of trees on Gambier. Those trees would have needed selective clearing and prunning to keep them from being a fall hazard. A well designed property would have a good clearing within which the house was built.

Finally the utilities should be adequate for the lot. The overhead power line should have an open right-of-way, free of interference from tree branches. The water well should have documentation on the flow, water quality and condition of the casing and submersible pump. The water storage tank should be in good condition and situated on the lot to provide adequate water pressure by gravity feed. The septic system should be pumped out and inspected prior to sale of the property, or before occupancy upon purchase.

With the above lot conditions being satisfied in part or whole, a buyer should expect that the home itself will reflect a similar standard of care.