Marc S. Tremblay
Building lot: check.
Updated: Aug 22, 2022
We've been looking at lots and cabins on the Gulf Islands for a long time - probably more than 15 years. We started well before we moved to Victoria in 2016. We tried and experienced several Islands before focusing on one of them. We overnighted on Pender, Salt Spring, Saturna, Galiano, Gabriola, Hornby and Cortez Islands. We looked at dozens of properties and made offers on four of them in total.
One was a timeshare on Pender Island. Thankfully, someone made an offer with no conditions and we lost out on it (phew!).
We made offer on a home in Bennett Bay. It was a cute little white house on Arbutus Road, close to the Resort, with the ocean across the street. It was an older house so we had the septic inspected and it passed muster. The inspector said it was "an oldie, but goodie."
The house felt smaller than it was supposed to be according to the Realtor's measurements, so I measured it when the home inspector came to check it out. Something wasn't right. The Realtor then got it officially measured and it was 20% smaller than advertised. That's a significant difference. On top of that, the inspector found minor electrical issues and an ant colony living in the walls. We could fix those problems relatively easily, but we couldn't add 20% of space, and the sellers wouldn't budge on price, so we walked away.
We also made an offer on a cabin on the North side of Mayne Island. This one was in response to a letter-writing campaign we did, when we sent 18 letters to owners that had cute cottages, asking them if they'd be interested in selling their property. We got three responses: two polite negative ones, and one that said "yes, let's talk."
The home was on Porter, across from David's Cove.
We started talking and everything was going relatively well, but to make a long story short, that too went sideways when we started negotiating the price, after paying for a septic inspection.
It's often said everything happens for a reason... we believe that and we're glad we struck out on these previous deals because we found a much better property.
One day, I took the day off to go visit a lot that had just come on the market, on Mayne Island. It was a 0.3 acre lot in the Dinner bay area. It had an old trailer and septic field on it, with close neighbours on all three sides. It was an ok lot, but nothing special.
But while I was on the ferry, our good friend Ian sent me a photo of a For Sale by Owner sign, so I called the number to see if I could "walk" the lot that same day, which I did. The owner was Gary Chase.
It was a much larger lot, just over an acre, on the South side of the island, gently sloping towards the ocean, Navy Channel to be precise, with its shimmering lights visible through the trees.
The property had two old bunkies, a camping trailer from the late 70s, and a tool shed. No septic tank, but it did have a water well.
The bunkies were older, placed on cinder blocks and old tree stumps cut to size. Clearly, they've been holding the structures for many many years, but they still looked like they are just temporary. Gary explained that he and his family built the lower bunkie with hand-tools years ago, and that the other one was moved there from his Aunt's lot, just down the hill.
So I took some photos and shared them with Dana. We still didn't know which island we wanted to be on, so we went to Pender that weekend to view other properties and get the feel of the Island. We saw several properties, including a large 1-acre parcel on the North-East side of the Island. It was dark, shaded from the late afternoon sun. We could see Mayne Island in the distance, and Dana pointed and said "I want to be there, in the sun..." I said "well, that's where the 1-acre lot is on Mayne", so we made plans to see it the following weekend.
Dana and I walked the lot, inspected the bunkies, drove around the area, including visiting Piggott and Gallagher bays. Dana loved it! She said this was the first property that she really liked. I liked it too, but was a bit concerned about the older bunkies, but they could be used as is, right now, with a bit of cleaning, organizing and fixing...
We decided we would make an offer, and feeling a bit overconfident and worried someone else would buy it at the same time, we wrote "Sale Pending" on the sign as we headed back to Victoria.
After some due diligence and negations, we became proud owners of this 1-acre parcel in February 2021.
The Grove, on Gallagher Bay road.