A safe, plentiful supply of water is something that every home buyer expects to be included with any house they decide to purchase. If the home is located in a rural area, that water source is often a private water well located on the premises of the home and included as part the purchase transaction.
Sometimes, however, prospective homebuyers find themselves considering the purchase of a home where the water is sourced from a well shared by two to four nearby homes.
Because of the potential for issues arising among the sharing parties, prospective homebuyers should research the following questions before moving ahead with a purchase offer.
1. Where Is the Physical Location of the Well?
If you are considering a home with a shared well, you should first determine the physical location of the well and how each home connects to it.
To avoid water pressure problems, each home serviced by the common water well should be equipped with a separate pressure tank. Each home should have a main water shut off valve at the point where the well water pipe enters the home. This valve can be used to completely shut off the flow of water from the home during an emergency situation or when plumbing repairs are needed.
2. Is There a Formal Well Agreement in Place?
A formal well agreement is the best way to reduce the potential problems of sharing a well with one to three other homes. Ideally, a well agreement should always be prepared by an attorney, signed by all parties, and legally recorded in the county where the well is located.
This agreement should detail each homeowner’s responsibilities for maintaining the well, using the water, and covering the cost to power it. If any restrictions on the usage of the water are necessary, these should also be part of the well agreement.
3. Is There a Sound Plan for Handling Repairs and Maintenance?
Water wells that serve a single home can often function for years with little or no maintenance. Because shared wells serve two to four households, the rate of wear they experience will be much greater, resulting in the need for more frequent repairs and maintenance.
Homeowners who share the benefits of the well should also share in the cost to fix it, maintain it, or replace it. A dedicated fund, established solely for covering the costs of well maintenance and repairs and paid into equally by each homeowner involved is a convenient way to manage these expenses.
4. Who Pays for the Electricity to Operate the Well?
Costs for the electrical power used to operate the well must also be shared equally among all participating households. Shared well agreements should stipulate which homeowner will be responsible for collecting money from the others and then paying the monthly electrical bill.
Installing a separate meter for the well will make managing this task easier and more transparent for everyone involved.
5. Is the Water Tested Regularly?
Periodic water testing is the best way to ensure that shared well water is safe for each household to consume. In addition to having an initial water test as part of the home buying process, prospective buyers should also determine if a shared well is being tested regularly for purity and request to see at least three years of past testing results.
If past water tests have been problematic or costs for electrical power, repairs, or maintenance have been excessive, have the well and its components inspected by a licensed professional before making a final decision on purchasing the home.
At Camps Well & Pump, we know that purchasing a home with a shared well can be challenging. Call us today if you have questions about shared wells.