Some things you can’t undo on the lake….

Ultimately if you haven’t been able to find that perfect lake house you might consider building it.  And I will have some tips and some recommendations for those who make this choice.  But for now a few things to think about when purchasing a lake front property on which to build this home.

First of all I would tell you that lake front property is prime real estate and owners are typically very serious about surveys and property lines particularly lakeside. So a survey is warranted and especially important here.

Second, over the years local zoning requirements have become more stringent on set backs (the distance from the property line to the home or out building)  and lot coverage (the percentage of the lot that is allowed to be covered by structure).   If there is an existing structure on the property that currently exceeds the new setbacks or lot coverage and you can preserve that footprint with the new build, you may be able to do this.  You should definitely check into this when planning a new build with the local zoning board.  Often once you tear down a structure the new zoning applies for the new build.  This could mean the difference between a 29 foot wide deck facing the lake and a 50 or 70 foot wide deck and can change your floor plans dramatically.  There is another remedy – you could request a variance but approval by the zoning board or even the board of appeals is not a given.

One more thing that is waterfront specific –  at least on Seneca Lake you can no longer build a boathouse on the water.  If you have a structure by the waters edge and want to keep it there – don’t tear it down – repair it.  Because once you take it down it cannot be replaced.

One last quick note on property.  Many if not most of the lake front properties will not have public water or public sewer.  Many many have lake water systems but this is a topic for another time.  I did want to suggest that you fully understand prior to making a purchase offer the local requirements for septic as well (your buyers agent can help you get all of this information).  Some jurisdictions require at least 100 feet from the lake for the septic system and farther for the leach fields.  In some cases you may have to purchase a anaerobic septic if there is not enough land for a field.

Just a couple of high level notes I thought important enough to share for those looking at lots on the lake or really any new build.  Before you get yourselves a bull dozer or hire someone to take down a structure consider the implications first.  That way you have more options!





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