RSS FeedCurrent Article

Lighthouses For Sale - The Hidden Cost

Living In a Lighthouse - The Dream

Indian Island Lighthouse - Private home owned by New York FamilyPeace and privacy on an island in the middle of nowhere. Waves crashing outside your windows. The cry of seagulls. A tall tower symbolizing hope, strength and safety. What could be more perfect? A lot of people have the dream of living in a lighthouse. Almost as many search for a job as a lighthouse keeper. Can you buy a lighthouse home of your dreams? Well, yes. Is it truly the home of your dreams? Well, maybe not.

It’s very rare you can buy a lighthouse that’s ready to live in. If they go up for sale, it’s already from a private owner, and the cost is more than most of us can hope to afford. Pictured at top left is the former lighthouse on Indian Island, Maine, which is now owned by a family from New York. Looks idyllic, doesn’t it? But it’s not for sale. There are some available in the United Kingdom, but again, we’re talking big money.

So, if you want to live in a lighthouse, what can you do? Check out the ones the United States auctions off through the General Services Administration, right? All you have to do is be the high bidder and you have the home of your dreams.

Buying At Auction Not So Cheap

With the recent high prices paid for the two New York lighthouses from the General Services Administration auction, did the two high bidders get a deal of a lifetime? Or have they bought a hole in the water where money will continually sink as it’s thrown into the building? And the same thing appears to be happening with the Sharp’s Island and Borden Flats Lighthouses, both of which are in bidding wars right now.

If you’re the high bidder on one of these lighthouses, you hand over the cash, sign some papers and you have a home with a 360 degree waterview. So, it needs a little work, right? Well, we can gut it and rebuild the interior to have three bedrooms, two baths and a panoramic living room and kitchen. And if it’s too hard we can just move it inland to a proper building site. Rumors have been floating around the internet, probably started by some misinformed reporter, that Borden Flats can be moved. Not true. In most if not all cases, they are still working lighthouses and the Coast Guard retains ownership of the optic and foghorn. They remain in place, and the Coast Guard can visit any time day or night to maintain their equipment.

The Historical Designation

All the lighthouses being sold are historically protected under the National Register of Historic Places and you are severely limited in what you can do. In fact, you are forbidden to change the historical character of the lighthouse and you also must abide by the respective state’s limitations as well. And even if you know what you’re getting into with the renovation requirements, you might have months, if not years in some cases, acquiring the necessary permits.

Because these lighthouses are old, there are environmental considerations as well. Slap a coat of paint on after scraping the exterior? Well, you had better be prepared to spend megabucks in environmental remediation, since you’re dealing with lead paint, possibly asbestos, and other hazardous materials.

From Mr. Gabriel:

As for the mandates issues. I actually feel that is a hindrance. I like the idea of the lighthouses to be historically correct up to the point of being safe and useable. The Historic Standards by the Department of interior do not bar use of the lighthouses and do not really drive up the costs of the restoration because the owner knows what he can and cannot do before starting. The worst feature of the mandates is the long time it takes to get all approvals which delay the start times between 8 months to a year.

Nonetheless the restoration standards do limit use of the property. In lighthouses which never had keeper’s quarters it is unlikely that permission would be granted to add them if the lighthouse is on the National Register. For that reason, the Great Lakes lighthouses may not sell for much. Only one, the Ashtabula lighthouse might have the potential of adding living quarters and therefore have interest as a second home for a buyer. Without a home feature attached to a light it is not a lighthouse.

The Submerged Bottomlands

One problem, and it’s a major one, is the quit claim deed to the lighthouse does not contain the rights to the submerged lands beneath your lighthouse. Non-profit groups have come up against this problem time and time again. And with an individual buying it, you have to deal with individual state regulations as well. What this means is you might be paying rent, you’ll be paying taxes, if you can even get permission to live in the light, or even visit it.

Fourteen Foot Bank Lighthouse, Delaware

The problem, according to Nevada attorney Michael L. Gabriel, who’s purchased two lighthouses through government auctions, is who actually owns the bottomlands. One would think it’s the state, since it sits in state waters, but that’s not necessarily the case.

For the current auctions, without a Title Search, it is unclear as to whether the Federal Government or states own the submerged land. As the GSA is saying that occupancy easements must be obtained from New York and Massachusetts it would appear that those states are asserting ownership of the submerged lands. The question is how that happened.

When the lighthouses were first constructed as a condition for doing so, Congress required under a federal law that the states had to cede all jurisdiction for the submerged lands as long as the lighthouse was operational and upon deactivation the submerged lands go back to the states. Under the Lighthouse act, the lighthouse can be sold but not the submerged lands. As long as the lighthouses are operational under Federal law the submerged lands should be owned by the Federal government and could not be transferred without a separate Act of Congress which as far as I know was not done. Federal land cannot be taken by a state for eminent domain.

In at least some of these cases, a Quiet Title Action may have to be brought in Federal Court to establish the ownership of the dream home you’ve purchased. From the Legal dictionary:

quiet title action (n.); a lawsuit to establish a party’s title to real property against anyone and everyone, and thus “quiet” any challenges or claims to the title. Such a suit usually arises when there is some question about clear title, there exists some recorded problem (such as an old lease or failure to clear title after payment of a mortgage), an error in description which casts doubt on the amount of property owned, or an easement used for years without a recorded description. An action for quiet title requires description of the property to be “quieted,” naming as defendants anyone who might have an interest (including descendants—known or unknown—of prior owners), and the factual and legal basis for the claim of title. Notice must be given to all potentially interested parties, including known and unknown, by publication. If the court is convinced title is in the plaintiff (the plaintiff owns the title), a quiet title judgment will be granted which can be recorded and thus provide legal “good title.” Quiet title actions are a common example of “friendly” lawsuits in which often there is no opposition.

The High Cost of Consultation

Sharps Island Lighthouse, MarylandWith the mandate by the purchaser to restore the light to historical standards, one of the first things the new owner has to do is engage the services of an engineer to determine the best way to accomplish this. Particularly in the case of Sharp’s Island Lighthouse, which leans fifteen degrees and is actually sinking, the study and plans will cost in the tens of thousands. And that isn’t taking into consideration the actual shoring up of the light.

Permits and approvals will be needed once this is done, and at the very least, can take some time to acquire. Bureaucracy doesn’t move very fast. And hiring someone to actually do the work, which may have to involve governmental entities such as the Army Corps of Engineers, and you’re talking time and money. Sometimes as long as a year or more, as Mr. Gabriel pointed out.

And let’s not forget weather conditions. As anyone who has built a house (or renovated it) knows, weather can be one of the biggest hindrances to getting work done on time. And with offshore lighthouses, built in the worst possible places, that risk is doubled.

Partly because of all these problems and permits, Mr. Gabriel, who owns Bloody Point Lighthouse and Fourteen Foot Bank Lighthouse, plans to restore have been moving slowly. After all the engineering work was done for Bloody Point, Fourteen Foot Bank became available, and as it was in better shape, Mr. Gabriel decided to concentrate his efforts on that light instead. Plans were for the work to start in September, but with the latest auctions, that may be delayed.

Coming up next: Getting the materials to the site

Photo Credits:

Keep up with Lighthouse News. Get articles by Email or in a Reader.

More About High Cost of Lighthouses

  1. Lighthouses For Sale - The Hidden Cost
  2. High Cost Of Auctioned Lighthouses - Part II

Trackback URL

  1. 30 Comment(s)

  2. By M. Jefferies on Sep 26, 2008 | Reply

    I would like to shed a more positive light on the restoration of a privately-owned offshore lightouse. The new new keepers of Baltimore Light, have encountered no issues of restricted access, or a desire by the federal government to collect rent. Our county government wanted to collect porperty taxes, but with a little work we were able to get through to someone who could think outside of the box, and the issue was resolved to our satisfaction.

    Our dealings with the Maryland Historic Trust, the organization that reviews our restoration plans, have been pleasant. We have have experienced no unreasonable delays during the review process. The only delays of the work have been on our end, because when you forget something it’s an hour or more to run to local hardware store!

    Certainly, lighthouse restoration is an expensive undertaking, but that is no suprise, and the enjoyment of restoring one of the treasures makes it all worthwhile.

    For more information on the restoration of Baltimore Light, visit www.BaltimoreLight.org

  3. By Cindy King on Sep 28, 2008 | Reply

    A very interesting post. I stumbled it and included it in my Get International Clients Sunday Blog Carnival (posted at getinternationalclients.com/get-international-clients-sunday-blog-carnival-21/).
    Come over and vote for the best post of this weeks entries.

  4. By Debra Van De Rostyne on Jul 14, 2011 | Reply

    Awesome!!

  5. By property for sale australia on Feb 26, 2013 | Reply

    I just could not go away your website prior to
    suggesting that I extremely enjoyed the standard information a person provide
    in your visitors? Is going to be again ceaselessly
    to check up on new posts

  6. By http://www.nationalelandschappen.nl/includes/forum/index.php?a=me ... on May 24, 2013 | Reply

    A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment. There’s no doubt that that you should publish more on this subject, it may not be a taboo subject but generally folks don’t speak about such issues.
    To the next! Cheers!!

  7. By disclaim on Oct 24, 2013 | Reply

    Today it is more regularly made with finely ground cement
    rather than limestone. spray and it’s important to do diligent research before choosing
    a brand OR a provider. Be careful not to over apply the primer, which
    can cause drips.

  8. By www.healthcarecollectionagency.net on Nov 2, 2013 | Reply

    It should be noted that whilst ordering papers for sale at paper writing service, you can get unkind attitude. In case you feel that the bureau is trying to cheat you, don’t buy term paper from it. www.healthcarecollectionagency.net

  9. By consumer-profile.co.uk on Nov 4, 2013 | Reply

    This is really quite attractive information and informative as per considering the utilize of it in this particular field. I like better to read this kind of stuff.

  10. By www.dogsplayingpokerapp.com on Nov 27, 2013 | Reply

    hello!! Very interesting discussion glad that I came across such informative post. Keep up the good work friend. Glad to be part of your net community.

  11. By SEO Manchester on Nov 30, 2013 | Reply

    Omg i like this light house i wish i could buy this but the price would be high.

  12. By www.thepokerrum.com on Dec 9, 2013 | Reply

    My goodness these look amazing for such a simple thing. I think I could add these to my holiday cookie tray and no one would be wise to their gluten-free nature… perfect!
    www.thepokerrum.com

  13. By Computer Questions and Answers on Dec 23, 2013 | Reply

    Lighthouses are very secluded and are likely most ideal for me, since my work doesn’t require me to interact with people in the flesh, just over the internet. So maybe the idea could interest me, personally, though, I’d rather live on a boat.

  14. By dr oz garcinia cambogia extract on Dec 30, 2013 | Reply

    This post is so informative especially the images posted here do make this blog more outstanding in comparison to others maybe this post needs to be briefed here

  15. By reviews on garcinia cambogia on Dec 30, 2013 | Reply

    Really these contents needs to be shared on social networking sites as they are really the brief and great masterpieces here

  16. By atlantic-offshore.com on Jan 17, 2014 | Reply

    Pretty great post. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I have really loved browsing your blog posts

  17. By www.legoindy2game.eu on Jan 18, 2014 | Reply

    This is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for sharing this great article! That is very interesting Smile I love reading and I am always searching for informative information like this! www.legoindy2game.eu

  18. By www.fandtlawfirm.com on Jan 20, 2014 | Reply

    I really enjoyed your article. I struggle everyday with the many tensions for attention. I will try your suggestions and hope it helps.

  19. By Deangelo on Jan 27, 2014 | Reply

    This is awesome lighthouse one would love to live here with his family.

  20. By willplaygamesforchange.com on Jan 29, 2014 | Reply

    I am find information on this topic as I am working on a business project. Thank you posting relative information and its now becoming easier to complete this project.

  21. By carsforsell.org on Feb 17, 2014 | Reply

    One can find different tips on how to find price reduction lift lottery tickets online together with locally. Buying tickets within the ski resort’s price tag window has to be a last option for anybody who is trying to conserve money regarding lift price tag deals. Most of the methods happen to be well-known whilst others are possibly not, or any locations may not be as distinct.

  22. By social currency on Mar 1, 2014 | Reply

    The article is very good and it mostly useful to all the social shoppers and social marketing people. The blog is bookmark in my browser to know about your new updates and other useful content. Thanks a lot to give this useful content.

  23. By Herbert on Mar 16, 2014 | Reply

    I like your posting it is amazing.

  24. By where can i buy garcinia cambogia in stores on Mar 25, 2014 | Reply

    I have read so many posts about the blogger lovers but this
    article is in fact a good article, keep it up.

  25. By visit here on Apr 1, 2014 | Reply

    It is an wonderful place to go. I will definitely go there.

  26. By oachmotorco on Apr 18, 2014 | Reply

    You can sleep 3 to 7 people comfortably depending on which model you choose. The Thor Daybreak was built for luxurious comfort so that everyone has room to stretch their legs. You’ll get to relax as you watch your Toshiba HD TV which comes standard on every model, with a Sensar antenna and signal booster

  27. By write my essays on Apr 18, 2014 | Reply

    A tall turret symbolizing reverie, intensity moreover protection. What could be again blameless? A numerous of persons receive the dream of alive in a lighthouse. Nearly as many pursuit for a vacancy as a lighthouse sentinel. Can you bargain a lighthouse house of your reveries? Well, yes. Is it very the house of your wishs? Well, perhaps nay.

  28. By Jual Mobil Hotwheels on Apr 28, 2014 | Reply

    I think this is one of the most important information for me. And i am glad reading your article.

  29. By argan Oil acne benefits on Jun 7, 2014 | Reply

    It appears like you’ve got extensively studied the
    details pertaining to the issue. I’m in total appreciation for all which you wrote.
    It’s made my day!

  30. By Abq pictures of houses for sale on Jul 18, 2014 (2 weeks ago) | Reply

    It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d
    certainly donate to this outstanding blog! I guess for
    now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS
    feed to my Google account. I look forward to fresh
    updates and will share this blog with my Facebook group.
    Talk soon!

  31. By http://an-american-family.blogspot.de/2010/06/socko-this-post-is-for-all-icarly.html on Jul 21, 2014 (2 weeks ago) | Reply

    What’s up mates, its wonderful post about cultureand completely defined, keep it up all the
    time.

  1. 2 Trackback(s)

  2. Sep 28, 2008: Get International Clients Sunday Blog Carnival #21 : Get International Clients
  3. Oct 8, 2013: Guiding Lights: 5 Beautiful Lighthouse Homes | Pure Inspiration

Post a Comment

icon_mrgreen.gif icon_neutral.gif icon_twisted.gif icon_arrow.gif icon_eek.gif icon_smile.gif icon_confused.gif icon_cool.gif icon_evil.gif icon_biggrin.gif icon_idea.gif icon_redface.gif icon_razz.gif icon_rolleyes.gif icon_wink.gif icon_cry.gif icon_surprised.gif icon_lol.gif icon_mad.gif icon_sad.gif icon_exclaim.gif icon_question.gif 

*
To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the security word shown in the picture. Click on the picture to hear an audio file of the word.
Click to hear an audio file of the anti-spam word

  • Latest Posts

  • Categories

  • Translate This Page

  • Twitter Updates

  • Connect on Facebook

    Lighthouse News on Facebook
  • Updates and Corrections

    • Fairport Harbor Lighthouse Sale Update - Get your bids in for Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Lighthouse. The General Services Administration has set October 26 as the soft close. A soft close ... - Continued...#
    • Lightkeepers Voices Heard - Some good news out of Canada...the planned de-staffing of several lighthouses has been put off indefinitely. The voices of the lighthouse keepers, the public outcry, ... - Continued...#
    • Email Newsletter - For those that have wondered, the newsletter is not dead. Ongoing health problems this summer and fall have made it difficult to be at a ... - Continued...#
  • Help Support Us

    Currency:

    Amount:

    Website(Optional):


    Powered By Lighthouse News

Flickr Lighthouse Photos