We were incredibly fortunate to grow up with access to an adorable camp on Kennebunk Pond in Lyman, Maine. My mom's family had it for generations and rebuilt it after the fires of 1947 that devastated 250,000 acres across Maine. We learned to swim, waterski, fish and generally love the water. As a young family, we even spent a full Maine winter up there, complete with chilly trips to the outhouse as the indoor bathroom was not added until many years later. It became the symbol for summertime fun and family. Nothing will ever replace those memories.
If you are considering grabbing a lakeside home for yourself, there's a few things to keep in mind. The most important being you should invite your favorite Daily Sun author up for drinks at sunset and maybe a "Geritol Cruise" as we affectionately referred to slowly putt-putting around the lake in the evening. Let's dig into some of the real considerations before you take the plunge (literally!).
We are fortunate to have loads of lakes and ponds around Maine and New Hampshire. Before throwing money down on a new cabin, consider the body of water itself. Kennebunk Pond allowed pretty much anything. Motors, sails, jet skis, etc. were all allowed. If you are interested in a more peaceful lakeside experience (not a bad idea!) be sure and check the rules and regulations for that specific pond. There's little worse than having your peaceful, silent but for the loons, fishing adventure destroyed by a gas-fueled motor ripping through the morning air. There's also nothing that compares to water skiing on that peaceful, morning, smooth as glass, water surface. Simply choose your own adventure.
And while the water regulations are important, don't neglect the shoreline. Our camp property had old (what appeared to be) telephone poles set into the shore to prevent erosion. As far as I know, they worked great and never needed to be replaced. You will find that lakeside properties do have a lot more rules when it comes to your actual property. The setbacks are going to be more restrictive and what you put on (and in) the ground will come into play as well. You have to keep in mind that we're preserving your land as well as the body of water that you come to enjoy.
We had a "party line" phone at the camp for as long as I can remember. Our ring was "one long — two short," and that's how we knew the call was for us. If working from the lake is going to be important for you, it is worth the time to research connectivity options. While satellite is getting cheaper, it would still be very costly to be online all day using that service. Most of us would prefer to be "off-line" while at the camp, but if this becomes a "home" for you, you will likely need to be connected. Consider the available options first.
Aside from that one winter, nobody in the family ever used the camp during the snowy season. Heck, the driveway wasn't even plowed so you couldn't get TO the house if you wanted to. It's worth considering the amount of upkeep that may be needed to winterize the home in the off-season. We did the normal things like emptying the water lines, but that was about it. "Winterizing more modern homes requires a bit more work than a traditional cabin," notes Badger Realty agent, Edward O'Halloran. "If you have nicer floors, trim and drywall you may consider keeping it mildly heated to prevent damage and shrinkage to those materials," he continued.
Where we live now, we can rent a room in our home (or the whole thing) as long as the rental is at least 30 days. If you are considering this home and plan to rent it while you're not there, do your homework. Many towns and communities are implementing more strick renting rules simply to keep traffic down and ensure the homes are better taken care of (in theory). Seasonal rentals are quite common and almost always allowed. It's those short-term rentals that are the point of contention these days.
Lastly, what can you do with regards to additions and renovations. We had always wanted to increase the size of the camp, but the local setbacks and other regulations simply prevented anything worthwhile from moving forward. The restrictions were so, well, strict that the remodel would not be worth the effort. Again, I totally respect and appreciate the rules because nobody wants to live next to some soul-less McMansion on the lake. Keeping the camps and cabins a reasonable size and ensuring there's plenty of space between property lines is critical to the enjoyment of your time at this home.
Having a home on the lake was simply amazing. I can't imagine our lives without it as we grew up. Looking back, we were incredibly lucky and spoiled. If you can provide that experience for you and your family, do it. The memories are forever and your kids, whether they know it or not, will always appreciate the experiences you provided for them. Happy swimming!