Buyers may make the sign of the cross and cross their legs as toilet-less Bullarto church goes to auction
On first inspection it looks like a quaint property perfect for a country retreat at Bullarto after some renovations. It’s a decommissioned Uniting Church on a half-acre (2,023-square-metre) block 10 kilometres outside of Daylesford, Victoria, but it comes with some complications.
Any buyers who don’t undertake due diligence could be lured in by the $100,000 price tag only to find the church is potentially useless – as council regulations all but rule out installing a toilet on the site.
A quick glance at the contract of sale shows while it’s hooked up to electricity, it’s not connected to gas, water, telephone, or most importantly sewerage. In normal circumstances, buyers would be entitled to install their own septic tank on the property.
Except that they’re not. Council regulations, if buyers can navigate them, reveal it’s next to impossible to install any sort of septic tank system on the property.
A council planner told Property Observer that as a rule of thumb, the guidelines from the EPA require a minimum of one acre (4047 square metres) to install a septic tank system. This holding is about half that size.
There are ways to install systems on smaller lots, but it requires extensive base water management program, which are expensive to implement and rare.
The planner Property Observer spoke to had seen just one or two lots of this size approved for a septic tank system in the last 10 years.
And even if a buyer did manage to meet council regulations with the help of a good town planner and solicitor, the system could take up much of the property, precluding anything that could disturb the system, such as a driveway.
All told, it’s not likely to happen in a hurry.
Agent Bart O'Sullivan from Pat Rice & Hawkins says it is up to buyers to make their own inquiries.
“The church can’t give any guarantees for what it can or can’t be used for,” O’Sullivan says.
“What we’re selling is half an acre plus the building, and they’re very realistic in their price expectations and it’s a matter of people making their own inquiries of what they can and can’t do in the future.
“People have to make their own investigations.”
O’Sullivan did float the idea that regulations might change in the future.
“Who knows what could transpire in the future?” O’Sullivan advised.
“I can’t give any warranties or guarantees as to what authorities will do.
“You look at the situation here - there’s a church, with half an acre, next to a school, there’s other house nearby, they must have some services close to them.”
The church goes to Saturday October 13 auction – a testament to the importance of due diligence.
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