Considering a more rural house......

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bobnewboy

Settler
Jul 2, 2014
830
221
North West Somerset
Hi All,

The other half and I will be looking for a more rural house in the new year. We are currently located on the SW edge of the M25, and will be looking to move much further west or south west. We have naturally been looking online at houses, and note that the more rural places seem to often rely on oil or gas tank fired heating, often with woodburners for additional heating /cooking. We like the idea of woodburners, but would not see them as a main heating choice for a retired/retiring couple. So it would seem that the main heating choices, where mains gas is not available, are stored oil or gas fired heating systems.

The thing is that both of us have only ever lived in mains-served houses, and have no experience of tank-served oil or gas heating. We would appreciate it anyone could offer information about how expensive oil or gas tanked heating is, ideally but not essentially compared to mains gas heating? Apart from the obvious risk of oil or gas theft, are there any major issues to bear in mind?

Another possible query is the use of septic tanks in houses which are not on mains sewerage as well. A few places we have looked at have used septic tanks. Are there any things to watch out for with these? How often do they generally need emptying, and how much does it cost annually?

We would be very grateful if any of you fine people could share your experiences of these areas in rural housing :)

Cheers, Bob
 

bowji john

Silver Trader
Mar 24, 2015
138
3
Cornwall
www.facebook.com
I live on a farm with septic tank - no real issues if properly installed (which is most)

Emptied approx once every 2 years at a cost in the region of £120

Oil fired heating is, I believe, significantly higher than mains gas but i'm not up on the prices of either as we have a ground source heat pump

I would not wish go back to living in a built up area

They will carry me out horizontally or, if I had to sell, I'd go live in a hut in Canada sooner than return to suburbia :).

J
 

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,157
1,308
McBride, BC
I have lived in a village of 600 for 10+ years with an oil-fired central heating furnace, fans, duct work and so on.
You need a really long "dip-stick" to measure the furnace oil level in the tank ( similar to diesel fuel).
I call for a a fill/$600.00 when I see under 12". I get the furnace guts cleaned every 5 years as a matter of course.

House is very well built and I'm comfortable to -30C. Two floors, 1,200 sqft each. Mostly just me and the cat.
The house shrinks so much in the cold that I have to lock the dang doors to keep them shut!

However, a Harman PP38+ wood pellet stove and a stupid little 5W computer fan does the same job for 2/3 the cost.
It paid for itself long ago with cost savings. The pellets arrive as 50 x 40 lb bags.
You set the feed rate for the fire size (and heating) that you want.
There's a hopper on the back of the stove that holds 2.5 bags = 100lbs of pellets.
You just get used to checking it and that it says things like " I guess another bag before bed and I can ignore it until lunch time tomorrow."

1. Pellet stove brands and designs are all over the world. Scandanavia buys freighter loads of pellets, all the way from here in BC.
So there sure has to be some economy in this.
2. The Harman website can show you which stove model is adequate for different house sizes. Useful info whether you buy or not.
3. Next, see if you can buy pellets at all! I have a ton delivered at a time, average is 4.5 tons per winter over the past 10 years.
4. About every 12-15 bags (500lbs) I have to shut the stove off and clean out the combustion ash. That's a bag the size of a big loaf of bread.
It's like nothing you have ever seen, coming from an active, fan-fed fire. Brown powder. Hour to cool, 30 minutes to clean and relight. No big deal.

It's quiet, soft even heat, the floors are warm. And it's a howling freakin' -25C mountain blizzard outdoors.
 

Robbi

Full Member
Mar 1, 2009
8,882
151
northern ireland
Here in Northern Ireland, mains gas is a reasonably new thing and oil fired heating systems were and still are the norm, we have just converted to mains gas as part of a renovation of a condemned property.

Cost wise there really isn't that much in it to be honest and it's just convenience to have gas, you don't have to remember to have an oil delivery when you get low, and payment for gas is on a monthly standing order where as oil is paid for on delivery / invoice.

With gas, you don't need a hot water storage cylinder as it is instant hot water when you turn on the tap the boiler fires and heats the water, with oil, you heat and store the water in the cylinder so you still have instant hot water but you may need to top up on the heat if you want big long baths in the evening......it's just something you get used to and it's no issue really.

As for the central heating, it's the condition of your radiators that matters, if they are half full of accumulated sludge, neither gas nor oil will heat the house efficiently, and of course the condition of the boiler plays a big part....a poorly maintained boiler for either gas or oil will be inefficient.

hope that helps

( as for needing a really long dip stick.....what a load of rubbish, on our tanks ( double skinned self bunded and alarmed as per current regs ) we use either a sight tube or a " watchman Alarm " ) https://www.amazon.co.uk/Watchman-Sonic-Oil-Level-Monitor/dp/B0032Q8Q64/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1496093425&sr=8-2&keywords=watchman+alarm

Oh, and boilers, either oil or gas should be fully serviced every year ( it's a minimal cost )
 
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Macaroon

A bemused & bewildered
Jan 5, 2013
7,115
266
69
SE Wales
I have no idea of the price of mains gas as we don't have it available anywhere near where I live, but I went over to oil heating last year and it's the best thing I ever did. I have a two bedroom bungalow built in the early 60's so not up to standard in terms of the latest insulation, and we're situated on a very cold and windy hill where the weather can be very raw. For heating and hot water in the ten months since installation it's cost me £550
in total. That's to keep the house at 18 to 20 deg. through the winter and what turned out to be a fairly cold early spring.

Fitted to my tank is a measuring device which can live in any wall socket in the house and tells you precisely how much oil you have in the tank; but built in to this device is a function that sets off a very loud alarm if anybody attempts to tamper with the tank, and will also cut off the flow of oil if the demand becomes any greater than required by the boiler, which is very little, so that seems to me to be a very good solution to the theft problem.

Had I needed to buy oil in the winter I would have had to have paid up to 47 pence/litre, but I was advised well that the way to do it is to plan so that you buy between May and September and I've been getting mine for
34 pence/litre. A very good thing for me is that I love the fact that once I've filled the tank there are no bills to come, it's bought and paid for........but that's just a personal thing.

With septic tanks, if you have one that's built properly and suitable for the dwelling and if you manage it well, it should never need to be emptied. Eight years now and mine is still tickety-boo. I avoid bleach and hard chemicals, don't get rid of fats and solid foods etc. down the loo or sink, just be really aware of how to use the system and it should be waste in one end and water out the other into your soakaway. Works for me.

I hope this is of some use to you.

PS: the newer oil boilers are on demand condensing units, no storage tank required; getting the tank out of the house was one of the factors that swayed me towards oil.
 
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Robbi

Full Member
Mar 1, 2009
8,882
151
northern ireland
PS: the newer oil boilers are on demand condensing units, no storage tank required; getting the tank out of the house was one of the factors that swayed me towards oil.
very true Mac, but as the OP already has an oil fired system, the cost of a boiler replacement and a replumb may be prohibitive.
 

santaman2000

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Jan 15, 2011
16,220
804
63
Florida
Mains gas here is natural gas while tanked gas is either propane or butane usually in a 500 gallon tank. Natural gas has been cheaper for about 40 years here. No idea about oil; we don't use it down South.

I have a full gas package in my house (natural gas mains) that includes the heat, the water heater, the stove, and the clothes dryer. My only problem (and it's minor) being that a gas dryer will yellow your clothing over time.

As has been said, a properly used septic tank should never need emptying. I was 19 when I enlisted and left home; that septic tank was nearly 40 years old and had never been emptied in my 19 years there.
 
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Nice65

Full Member
Apr 16, 2009
4,426
1,128
55
W.Sussex
Move South. I've lived in West Sussex all my life. I lived in Felpham for many years, just away from Bognor, then Midhurst. I miss the coastline a bit, but we now live in a fine part of the world in Singleton.

First winter, we did a whole tank of gas, not realising our usage and cost. £750 for a fill!. Now we run a multi fuel burner, get cheap wood, and use the gas for water only. Gas tank lasts for ages now.

I recommend a look around here, it's fairly idyllic. It has poop pipes too :)

Just back from camping (glamping) at New House Farm up the road. Google it, then come over. :)
 

bobnewboy

Settler
Jul 2, 2014
830
221
North West Somerset
Move South. I've lived in West Sussex all my life. I lived in Felpham for many years, just away from Bognor, then Midhurst. I miss the coastline a bit, but we now live in a fine part of the world in Singleton.
It is a truly lovely part of the world, but unless we come up with a serious Premium Bond win, we would never be able to afford what we want (3 bed detached, workshop/outbuilding, couple of acres - space!) anywhere within commutable distance of The Smoke. Going west seriously improves our chances of finding the kind of place that we want. This will be our last move - our 'forever' house - so it has to tick all the boxes at a price we can reach.
 

bobnewboy

Settler
Jul 2, 2014
830
221
North West Somerset
very true Mac, but as the OP already has an oil fired system, the cost of a boiler replacement and a replumb may be prohibitive.
Hi Robbi, we are currently in Surrey and have everything on mains supply and sewerage. But we have no space, no workshop and are fed up with immediate neighbours and ever increasing aeroplane noise (Heathrow). We will be looking for a more rural style of house, hence the questions.
 

bobnewboy

Settler
Jul 2, 2014
830
221
North West Somerset
Hi All,

Thanks for all the info. I am feeling a lot easier about oil fired heating and septic tanks from what you have said. In my case its just a matter of not having been involved with them ever before, so its good to hear that these fitments in rural houses are generally not too much bother.

Cheers, Bob :)
 

Ogri the trog

Mod
Mod
Apr 29, 2005
7,127
30
56
Mid Wales UK
We made a similar move about 16 years ago, from Hampshire to rural Mid Wales.
When we moved in, the house had a solid fuel Rayburn which provides hot water, electric cooking, oil-fired central heating, its own water supply and a septic tank.

In the time we've been here,
The Rayburn remains as it warms the kitchen and entire downstairs as well as all the hot water we need - it does get to go out during hot weather when we change to an immersion heater for hot water - more of that later. When I have the money, it will take about 2 bags of anthracite a week at about £8 a bag - when skint I can burn wood which I can scavenge or cut pretty much free of charge.
I have put in a gas powered hob which runs on 47kg propane bottles - they last about 15 months and have generally increased in price up to about £65 currently (though I might be out of date on that as I haven't bought one for a while.
Heating oil has fluctuated from about 20p to 60p per liter; 1000 liters at a time which will last about 9 months.
Water supply is still from the well, though I have had to replace a pump (at about £400) and maintain the filtration system which includes a particle filter every 4 months and a UV lamp & chamber every year. In 2005 we ran out of water as there had not been enough rain - which meant a sudden and drastically different manner of living - washing and eating being only a part of the changes we had to make - it took about 7 weeks to get usable water back into the house!
The septic tank has only been emptied once in 16 years and that was when I wanted to re-dig the soak-away - it was not pleasant but needed to be done.

In the first few years, we had several long term power-cuts - which had to be thought through - the fire could stay alight, but without power to lift water from the well, we had to be careful about using water - as without it, I would have had to put the fire out or risk overheating the hot water system.

We have put SolarPV panels on the roof to make the best of our southerly aspect - which further enabled us to get an electric oven (remember the Rayburn), and electric grass cutting/strimming tools (who cuts their grass in the dark or when it is raining?). It has also made the immersion heater easier to justify.

The costs for the house are only a part of the expense that you'll need to address;-
You'll need to keep a vehicle in roadworthy condition and be able to get on to main roads during snowfall or other emergency and because bus and rail services in some rural communities is laughable, barely any service at all.
Some rural communities are not used to the breadth of choice that the prosperous South enjoys - we cannot get some foods that we used to like without a trip to Cardiff, or the Midlands.
We do not have a hospital with an A&E department in the entire county so that would necessitate a journey of more than an hour either over the mountains to Aberystwyth or towards the Midlands to Telford!
Telephone & broadband can be intermittent and slow and mobile phone coverage is scant at best.

Living out in the sticks will not suit everyone, but like someone mentioned before, they'll be carrying me out in a box.

Any more questions, just ask.

ATB

Ogri the trog
 

santaman2000

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Jan 15, 2011
16,220
804
63
Florida
It is a truly lovely part of the world, but unless we come up with a serious Premium Bond win, we would never be able to afford what we want (3 bed detached, workshop/outbuilding, couple of acres - space!) anywhere within commutable distance of The Smoke. Going west seriously improves our chances of finding the kind of place that we want. This will be our last move - our 'forever' house - so it has to tick all the boxes at a price we can reach.
With the view that it will be your "last move" your "forever house" bear in mind there are a few other boxes to tick as well:
1) Is it easily accessible using a walker or wheelchair? (wider doors, no carpet to snag on, flat entryways or ramps rather than steps, etc.)
2) Electric outlets placed slightly higher than normal so you can reach them from said wheelchair or without bending too far with the walker?
3) Countertops lowered for easy reach?
4) Easy entry showers with seating and hand rails?
5) is it a single story house? (no upstairs or basement)

In short the personal mobility problems with aging are closely related to disabilitiy related mobility problems so the question is: Is the house disability compliant? Some of this is easy to refit later but most is much, much more cheaply done during the construction stage.
 

bobnewboy

Settler
Jul 2, 2014
830
221
North West Somerset
With the view that it will be your "last move" your "forever house" bear in mind there are a few other boxes to tick as well:
1) Is it easily accessible using a walker or wheelchair? (wider doors, no carpet to snag on, flat entryways or ramps rather than steps, etc.)
2) Electric outlets placed slightly higher than normal so you can reach them from said wheelchair or without bending too far with the walker?
3) Countertops lowered for easy reach?
4) Easy entry showers with seating and hand rails?
5) is it a single story house? (no upstairs or basement)

In short the personal mobility problems with aging are closely related to disabilitiy related mobility problems so the question is: Is the house disability compliant? Some of this is easy to refit later but most is much, much more cheaply done during the construction stage.
Hi Santaman, I hear what you're saying. We havent identified any house yet, just a rough area and set of requirements (grouped by essential, important and then 'nice to have'), and an idea of our budget. We will be considering our later years, for example a bungalow (i.e no upstairs nor basement), but not in a way that would block too many house choices for the moment. In the UK buying a new house is fairly unusual, so having mobility features built in is something that is usually considered and done only in so-called 'retirement homes'. I expect that we will be buying an older house, and then improving/adapting it as necessary over the years that we live there. I agree that this might not seem the best approach for a forever house, but currently we are currently in our fifties, and reasonably well mobile, so we will cross that bridge when we get there :)
 

santaman2000

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Jan 15, 2011
16,220
804
63
Florida
.... In the UK buying a new house is fairly unusual, so having mobility features built in is something that is usually considered and done only in so-called 'retirement homes'. I expect that we will be buying an older house, and then improving/adapting it as necessary over the years that we live there. I agree that this might not seem the best approach for a forever house, but currently we are currently in our fifties, and reasonably well mobile, so we will cross that bridge when we get there :)
I had my current house built and that's not "un"common here. I was in my early 30s at the time and I just passed my 60th birthday a few months ago and I'm still mobile as well Sadly here, like there, it IS uncommon for most people to deliberately build in the features I mentioned until they actually need them. I didn't even think about them when I had this one built.

There are valid reasons to buy/built either way:
-Not having the features makes a house more appealing to the general market if you decide to sell later whereas having those features limits your market
-Building them from the onset makes them much cheaper in the long run (it costs nothing extra to place the outlets, counter tops, etc. where you want them during construction but can be expensive to relocate them in existing structure.

In any case I wish you good luck in your search and many happy years in your new home.
 
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