THE LAKE, THE CABIN, UP NORTH
According to Wikipedea, there are 11,842 lakes in Minnesota. It would seem there are plenty of them to go around. However, the fever will soon be upon us and the crazed masses will load in to all forms of conveyance to make their escape to that very magical Minnesota place of respite and restoration. It is a sort of “right of summer” here in northern latitudes. We plan our entire schedules around trips to THE LAKE.
While there is something wonderful about getting away, if you are contemplating making an investment in a personal retreat there are some basic things that you may want to sort out before you run hither and yon looking at every lakeside gem that’s for sale.
- What purpose will you use the water for? Skiing, jet ski, swimming, summer fishing, ice fishing, hunting??? Whatever your pleasure, consider the body of water and what limitations may be present that could crimp your style. All lakes are not created equally nor are all bodies of water managed the same by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). A great resource for lake information is the DNR LakeFinder. You can great statistical information about the water characteristics, fish populations and invasive species.
- Shoreline and weeds. I would speculate that for most lake home owners and buyers, having level sandy beach with hard sand lake bottom is ideal. (For you muck and weed lovers I apologize) While you may (STRESS MAY) be able to make some modest modifications to the lake shore and lake bottom, a good rule to follow is “it is what it is” You may look at a lake property right after ice out and see wonderfully clear water with no weeds, WOW!! The same shoreline might be unrecognizable in the “dog days” of August.
- Do you love sunsets, sunrises, wind-swept shore or ???? I have heard more than one cabin owner lament that they wish they could see the sunset from their dock. If that’s important to you, a place on the easterly side of the lake should be on your short list. Since the prevailing winds in the summer are south-southwest, certain shorelines are going to have more wind and wave action. Each location will give you something different to “love” about your peace of heaven. Make sure its something you really love.
- Will the property allow you to grow into it? Most municipalities and counties have an ordinance restricting the percentage of impervious surface on a lake lot. This percentage includes every roof, sidewalk, patio, driveway, etc. That really charming 1/4 acre lot on Fish Lake has perfect sand and little elevation. Its on the east shore so the sunsets will be spectacular. The county allows 25% of the lot to be impervious surface. One acre is 43,560 sq. ft. A 1/4 acre lot is 10,890 sq. ft. At the 25% limit you can have a total impervious surfaces of 2,722.5 sq. ft. Your 28′ x 42′ hide away takes up 1,176 sq ft. That leaves you 1,546 sq. ft. for the garage (maybe no pole barn) patio, sidewalks, etc. Think a few years down the road, SIZE MATTERS!!
- Check all the regulations concerning private sewer system requirements and wells. Don’t assume because you have one now that it will meet code requirements for replacement. Most counties require that the current system be certified prior to transfer. This a great program. What happens if the system needs to be replaced in a few years. Can you construct a compliant system on the property that meets the current standard? Some properties are part of a private sewage treatment system. A number of lakes have these types of arrangement. The property owners contribute money for the maintenance of a common “off site” system. The cost of replacement is shared by the users.
- You have an STD at your cabin? YIKES!!! Special Tax Districts (STDs) are becoming more common as lake associations work to control or reverse the impact of invasive species and other environmental issues. Property owners are accessed a tax on their property by the taxing authority and the funds are used to address specifc issues on the lake or chain of lakes.
These are just a few things to consider when making the “Cabin” experience part of your families forever memories. With a little foresight and planning you can enjoy all the states many lakes have to offer. The most important preventative step you can take is to connect with a qualified, knowledgable real estate professional that has experience with lake property.
Oh yeah, I’m heading to lake.