The True Costs Of Home Ownership Series - Special Features

Special Features are the focus of this week's installment about the costs involved in owning a home.  You can read all about Utilities (heat, hydro, water) HERE, Property Taxes HERE & Insurance HERE

This is going to be a catch-all for anything & everything that I can think of that could be in some properties will have them & some won't...& they all require some sort of special care & additional expense that should be considered. 
The intent here is not to go too in-depth into each of them but rather identify certain features which should cause you to do further investigation or at least be aware that there will be costs associated with having them. When it comes to home ownership, it should come as no surprise that making informed decisions is better than flying by the seat of your pants, lol!

To start off with, all of the special features I have listed will require special clauses & conditions in an offer to purchase. These will range from representation & warranties that the installation was done correctly to conditions of inspection & insurance to ensure that the feature is in good working order & that the property can be insured in its current condition.

Pools & Hot Tubs

When it comes to pools, some people love'em & some people hate'em! Personally I love a pool! Sometimes it's enough for me to just to look at the pool & not actually go in it...which drives my husband bonkers since he has to maintain it, lol ;)

Costs to consider: Electricity to run the pump & filter, if there's a heater then you're also looking at electricity or gas (natural or propane) to run it, chemicals to keep the water clean (unless it's saltwater), misc equipment like vacuums, brushes, leaf skimmers, leaf nets, solar blanket, winter cover, opening/closing it professionally, pool toys etc. Having a pool is not cheap & the costs are going to depend on what type of pool it is as well as the size of it. Having a hot tub is somewhat less involved but some of the expenses listed here still do apply.


If a property is not hooked up to the municipal water supply then you're going to be dealing with a well. Preventative maintenance is the key with wells & you really should watch your consumption. Having a well means always being aware & mindful of things that can affect your water supply. Did you know that you will not be able to get a mortgage without proof of a potable water supply? You can read more HERE, HERE & HERE 

Costs to consider: While you may be saving money on your water bill each month by having your own private source, ongoing maintenance by a professional, add-ons like filtration systems etc...are all expenses that should not be overlooked.

Septic Systems

If a property is not hooked up to the municipal sewer system then you're going to be dealing with a septic system. Just like with a well, maintenance is the key here as well as knowing what NOT to do in order to keep your septic system running smoothly. You can read more HERE, HERE & HERE 

Costs to consider: Again, there are savings to be had when you're not paying the municipality monthly sewage fees but you will need to factor in some maintenance costs & be very vigilant in keeping your system in good working order otherwise dealing with septic problems can cost you thousands of dollars.

Solar Panels

One of the biggest concerns when it comes to solar panels is what happens when something goes wrong! Repairs can be costly! If you're considering purchasing a home with panels already in place you're going to want to do your due diligence ahead of time & know exactly what you're getting yourself in to! You could also check out my blog post called Are Solar Panels Hurting Home Values? for some additional information & things to consider.
Costs to consider: This one could save you money but if that savings gets eaten up by repairs then it's best to know that that's a risk ahead of time.

Oil Tanks

Some people swear by oil heat & oil furnaces are actually less expensive to purchase than natural gas ones but unfortunately they are less efficient & cost more to run. If you have an oil system then you've got an oil tank. There are rules when it comes to those tanks. You can read more HERE, HERE & HERE Your insurance company will have questions for you & their policies may differ from government's all about risk management for them!
Costs to consider: Filling the tank & the higher cost of home heating oil, depending on the age of the tank, you may need to replace the tank & if you're considering converting to natural gas, if it's available, then know that that's a big undertaking & it's a significant cost as well.

Wood Burning Appliances

I love my wood burning fireplace even though there are times when I wish I could just flip a switch to enjoy the cozy ambiance of a roaring fire & not have all the work! As with everything, preventative maintenance is going to keep your overall costs down. Read my post on Insurance for some issues to watch out for when it comes to wood burning appliances.
Costs to consider: annual cleaning & the cost of firewood is about it if your fireplace is in good working order. If it's not, then you're going to run into additional costs depending on what the issues are.

Other "Stuff"

There are also a number of optional items that you may find in a house...monitored alarm systems, rented water softener units & most common are rented water heaters. Rent-to-own furnace & air conditioning units are also something to watch out for as they seem to be popping up more & more often these days & some Buyers have been caught unawares by them... These babies come with conditional sales contracts & they definitely deserve their very own blog post (soon!) Until that blog post is written, just make it one of the questions you ask...and your REALTOR® should gathering all that information for you anyways!

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