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Old 01-28-2009, 07:22 PM
 
54 posts, read 236,667 times
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Default Buying a home with shared well--is this a bad thing?

I'm looking to buy a home in the country that has a shared well. The well would be on my property, but there is a shared well agreement with 4 other properties (1 property has a house, the rest are vacant land plots).
The agreement stipulates that each part-owner pays 1/5th of all costs-elec.pump bill, repairs, maintenance. Here's the problem. The current owner doesn't charge the vacant land owners anything! He and the other house owner just split the bill. I guess because the (vacant) land-owners use little to no water--however there is the cost of the electric pump use every month. Would I look like a jerk if I stood by the agreement and had everyone pay their 1/5th fair share?
It would be nice to have the well to myself of course (**selfish bastard that I am**), but someone brought up a good point: if the well malfunctions, breaks, needs repair, there are 5 parties that have to pay to fix or re-drill, not just me.
I know NOTHING about wells, having come from the city. There is also a giant water storage tank on the property I'm buying that holds the water. Is that the usual way with wells? That you have a big storage tank? Does the agreement usually extend to the tank too?
Would love to hear from anyone who shares a well, or knows something about this. Thanks.
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Old 01-28-2009, 07:26 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX
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Sounds like a pain in the arse. Getting 5 owners to agree to pay can be difficult too.

Driller, what's your take?
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Old 01-28-2009, 10:31 PM
 
Location: Great State of Texas
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I would not do it. You haven't even bought the property and already you are not happy with current arrangements. You also cannot predict what will come of the other 4 owners 10-15 years down the road or yourself even.

Your own well is your own well. No one else to answer to and up to you to maintain as you see fit.
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Old 01-28-2009, 11:22 PM
 
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As a long-time operator in the Public Water field in California, I BELIEVE what you're describing is illegal here. I see it as you 'providing' water...(in essence, 'selling' groundwater) which, in California, must be done by a public agency (Water District, etc).

I recall nearly getting into a 'shooting war' (several threats were made) in our Water District when a rather 'flamboyant' property owner (quite a character...he had an 'illegal immigrant' and 'welfare recipient' camp with about 100 residents with one water tap, for which he charged rent) decided to 'go into the water business' and ran a pipeline up onto a neighboring mesa and into the holding pond of a commercial nursery.

We 'threatened' him to stop selling groundwater, and he 'threatened' us with bodily harm if we entered his land. We finally convinced the nursery owner to stop buying, and the case went away.

What you're doing SOUNDS a little like this. Legal or not in Texas, sounds like a real headache to me. "Other people" are never predictable, and ALL of them have heirs and family members. I'd hate to be at the whim of 4 separate neighbors, myself.
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Old 01-28-2009, 11:29 PM
NCN
 
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We used to be on a community well. It worked just fine until a person who doesn't understand country living moved in and tried to fill up a swimming pool in one weekend. The well went dry. We paid something like $5 per month for our share of the electricity to run the well. There was no water tank, we just all drew directly from the well. I think there were about 7 houses on it. Our county rescued us and we now have city water. The well is still across the street and I think it still serves several houses after it recovered from the pool happening.

I understand how you feel. I wondered about a community well also. My next door neighbor who had their own well told me when they drilled theirs the men had told them it had enough water for the entire town. I think we just had too much water coming out too fast in a hot dry time. The first thing we did when we moved in was to have the water tested for content. It was pure mineral water.
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Old 01-29-2009, 03:27 AM
 
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It's not illegal and happens a lot, especially on the coast here in Maine where it can be tricky to get a well with enough water (too shallow) without getting salt water (too deep).

We owned a house that had a shared well, but when the property was split up and we went to sell the house, the well was such a sticking issue with potential owners and lenders that we just coughed up some money and had a new well drilled.

I'd be very leery in your case. You have some extra equipment that will need extra care and replacement down the road, and as someone else said...5 people agreeing to fiscal responsibility may be tough. The biggest issue I would have is if you ever decided to sell...the shared well could be a major reason why it goes unsold.
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Old 01-29-2009, 06:17 AM
 
Location: Nebraska
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I wouldn't do it.

Who's to say who sells out and who moves in, or if anyone will pay but you?

My friend dug a well and offered the water for a price to 5 other people. They all agreed, of course - until it came time to replace/repair the pump, or when someone damaged their water lines, or when someone vandalized the pump. Then there was such a hassle that she had to go to civil court. The county came down the road with water lines, and they all signed on to the county 'to spite her' - and ended up paying more. They asked her to restart the well for them again. She declined. Duh.

If you have your own water, you can run into all sorts of legal problems if someone decides it isn't pure or it is infiltrated or it is tapping/causing the salt intrusion... wells are funny things, depending on where you live and who lives around you. If it isn't publicly-supplied water, then having your OWN resource is less hassle.
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Old 01-29-2009, 08:44 AM
 
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buying a house with a shared well is about as illadvised as entering into a marriage with a shared wife.
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Old 01-29-2009, 01:34 PM
 
Location: Kennebec County, Maine
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I have neighbors here in Kennebec County, Maine who are on a large lake. The homes there were once seasonal cottages. Most of the families have been there for six generations. They share a dock and waterfront space. Some share bathrooms, and telephones, and a woodlot, and driveways, and a well. The only thing anyone has ever had a disagreement about is the well.
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Old 01-29-2009, 01:56 PM
 
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This is a very rural, but 'upscale' community. Virtually ALL of the homes there are shared wells, some have 20-25 properties on one well. Yes, they end up considering each well as a water company, as in "ABC Water Company", which is really the well that provides water to however many properties. There is a legal document, a 'private shared-well agreement', that states that all costs are divided equally between the property owners.
I suppose if someone refused to pay their fair share, you could take them to small claims court. The owners of the house have lived there 12 years, and have had no problems whatsoever. I realize that does not guarantee against problems down the road, but as I said, in this community, it is the NORM to share wells.
I believe that if one property sold, the next owner would have to agree to the 'shared-well agreement'. Because any changes to the agreement would have to be agreed upon by all 5 parties! (or at least the majority).
Make sense??
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