If you’re considering buying rural land for your dream home or weekend getaways, make sure you take a second look at the land and research the property as much as possible.
It’s a good idea to walk around the property beforehand and take note of anything that may not look quite right. Neighbors also are a good source of information.
According to Colonial Farm Credit, the following are safety risks to consider when shopping for rural property.
Keep an eye out for old dumps and burn piles, which can contain old pesticide containers, barrels of waste oil or worse. In addition to leaking containers, watch out for dangerous objects. A few items on the surface of the ground may hint at more refuse below.
If you have children, keep them away from these areas. Also, don’t forget to look around all the corners, because draws, or small, dead-end canyons, are natural dumping spots. If you find scrap metal on your property it can be sold for money, but you have to properly decontaminate any leaking containers and clean up the ground in that area, which is costly.
Look to see if chemicals, fuel or oil has been spilled onto the soil around storage tanks and, if possible, confirm what used to be stored in the tanks. Try to find a licensed and insured contractor to dispose of unwanted tanks. If you cannot afford to or decide you want to use the tanks in the future, properly secure them and keep children and animals out. Check for underground storage tanks. Barrels of toxic oil and the potential for spills pose a risk to your drinking water.
Wells and septic tanks
Make sure all old wells and septic tanks are adequately sealed. If they are no longer in use, follow proper procedures to take them out of service, and check with the health department or your local soil and water conservation district for more information on how to properly seal a well or septic tank. Block access to the wells and tanks until you can properly secure them, so that children and pets will not fall in.
Know the signs of a non-functioning septic field. Sewage gurgling to the surface can migrate over to the wellhead. Note where all septic tanks are, and until you can properly seal them or fill them in, mark them and keep heavy equipment and vehicles away. The septic tank could collapse under the weight of the vehicles.
Ponds and streams
Mark your property with posted signs to keep unwanted swimmers out of your pond or stream. “It may even be advisable to fence the pond. If you do allow swimming in your pond or lake, make sure no one swims alone.
It’s also important to teach children how to stay away from snakes and other animals they might see near the water—and not to drink from streams, he said.
While you may think your creek water is clean enough to drink, never assume it is.