Understanding Culverts and Easements

August 9, 2012 - Updated: August 9, 2012

When it comes to buying a home, people often become so consumed with the purchase process that they often overlook some of the finer details of their new home. And, this is especially true for first time homeowners that are just so excited to finally be homeowners.

They are not up to date about what to look for when purchasing a home and are often unaware of the rules and regulations that exist before they make their purchase. When you purchase a home, you need to be aware of the restrictions that exist on the land itself. This will allow you to know what you can and cannot do in terms of renovations and upgrades down the road. Not knowing this could put a serious wrench in your plans.

What to look for when purchasing a home

Here are some things that prospective homeowners need to be looking for before they take ownership of their new property:

  • The structure of the home
  • The details of the property survey
  • Information that is provided from the realtor

However, one thing that tends to get overlooked when people check out a potential home is the surrounding land. Interested parties should ask questions about culverts.

  • Does the land have any culverts?
  • Does it have rights-of-way?
  • What about easements?
  • If they are present, how does this impact your land?

Understanding culverts and easements

Many urban and rural properties have culverts, easements, but the most common are utility and drainage easements.

What are culverts?

These are devices that are used to channel water under roads, embankments, and other landscapes. They are commonly made out of steel, PVC, and concrete and come in many sizes and shapes.

What are easements?

This is a section of land that exists on your property that your city or utility company has access to in order to maintain systems. While it is still your property, home owners are restricted about what they can do and how they can use this land. And, not all easements are the same, so every homeowner needs to look into the restrictions that exist for their specific property.

What are drainage easements?

Drainage easements are the most common form of easements that exist on homeowners’ land. For them to work efficiently, they need to be kept clear of any obstacles and be maintained at a certain slope. And, just to be crystal clear, homeowners are the ones responsible to keep them clear at all times.

Examples of easements

Here are some common examples of easements that could exist on your property:

  • Gas lines on your property
  • Power lines that run under your property
  • Sewer or water lines
  • Utilities
  • Pathways and walkways

If access is needed, anything that is in the way will be removed. This includes anything that a homeowner has built on their property such as fences and shed, which in most cases will be put back in its original state once the work is complete.

However, if a homeowner makes adjustments to any easement and it causes any damage to the surrounding property, they are subject to being sued and will be required to put things into their original state.

How to find out easement information for your property

If you are not sure of your easement specifications, you can find out the information in a number of ways:

  • By referring to your property’s survey drawing
  • Checking the certificate title to the property at your city’s land title and registry office
  • Check the property’s Real Property Report. In Ontario this report is called a Surveyor’s Real Property Report.

When purchasing a home, it is important to be as thorough as possible. Do your homework, know what you are getting into, and understand all aspects of your property. The last thing that you want to do is make changes to your property that will cause damage, have to be reversed, and cost you money.

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