Snow Consideration

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If you are considering buying a property in Niseko you have probably been drawn here one way or another by the areas incredible snowfall. The quality and quantity of the areas snow has made it the world famous ski destination we now know. Once it starts to snow here it just never seems to stop and it can start as early as the end of October, stays on the ground from November and keep snowing into April.

An A frame house laden with snow

The sheer quantity of snowfall here in Niseko has to be seen to be believed. Properties left unattended through the winter can sustain serious damage. This property (not managed by Holiday Niseko) certainly looks a little neglected.

Niseko’s phenomenal snowfall is fuelled by ice cold air flows moving across north eastern Russia and then across the Sea of Japan. The Sea of Japan provides moisture from its comparative warmth creating  moisture laden clouds which are then pushed toward Hokkaido’s shores. Once it makes land this frigid mass is forced higher by Niseko’s mountain ranges which begin at the coast and extend 20 kms inland to where the resort area is located. The cloud mass then gets held by the surrounding mountains and drops its pay load of picture perfect dry powder, usually 10 to 15 meters every season.

Two men stand on a 2 story building with its roof encased in snow.

Through out the winter snow is one of the most important property management considerations and should always be factored into purchase decisions.

While this amazing snowfall makes for great skiing it doesn’t come with out challenges for any one owning a property here. Below are 5 powder laden points that you should take into consideration when buying property here.

1.Access – Mostly applicable to blocks of land but also sometimes to pre existing building too. It is important to ascertain if the property  is on a public or private road and how often will the road be cleared and will it be cleared at all. If it will be your responsibility you’ll need to find a contractor do this or do it yourself. If the land you buy has room to dump snow all the better, if not keep in mind that you will need to have any snow trucked away which can lead to a big spike in costs.

2. Set Back Regulations – These vary between prefectures and towns such as Kutchan or Niseko and often differ between specific area within these zones. The setbacks are often in place to mitigate issues with snow clearing and dumping. Set backs will of course influence where on land the you can build and in some case the kind of structure you can build.

3. Roofs- If you are building a new property or considering buying an existing building the roof type is always an important consideration especially in a tighter urban settings. A flat roofs can need to be cleared as often as 2 times a month which is either a cost or expenditure of time you should be aware of. Also when the roof is cleared or being cleared where will the snow go, is there enough room on the land to hold a seasons snowfall or will it need to be trucked away, is there access to do so? Flat roofs do of course have their advantages as they can be cheaper to construct and you can control where the snow goes when they are cleared. Pitched roofs also have their advantages, the biggest being you usually don’t need to clear them. In the case that pitched roofs do need to be cleared keep in mind the cost will be greater to do so than flat roofs as clearing them can be challenging and may require workers with abseiling gear or equipment such as cherry pickers to do so.

A cherry picker clears the snow from the roof of a tall building.

Roof clearing is essential and sometimes costly but more so if it is neglected.

4. Neighbours – That’s right even your neighbours snow can affect you and where your snow goes can affect them too. Before buying or building make sure there won’t be any issues with your roof shedding onto neighbouring land or vice versa. Keep in mind also that although there might be an empty block beside you now if someone builds a house beside you and your snow affects them it will be your responsibility going forward. In the same paradigm if your neighbour (or anyone else for that matter) parks a vehicle near your property and for example snow falls from the roof and damages their car the owner of the roof is responsible for the damage. In some cases to mitigate issues with new or existing building snow stoppers are often needed to stop roofs sliding and even protective walls erected.

5. Gardens – If you’ve seen or bought your dream home in the summer and the garden was a draw card be warned that gardens here won’t stay standing without considerable pre winter preparation which depending on how many tress and shrubs you have can be surprisingly expensive and or time consuming. It is of course well worth it to have a beautiful sakura blossom tree blooming in the spring!

Even with the above points taken into consideration the rewards of owning a property here usually out way the challenges the snow brings especially when weighed against excellent rental returns and of course some of the most amazing skiing in the world.

If you’ve got any questions on any of the points above or would like to now more about real estate in Niseko please feel free to get in touch any time (

Tied up trees coveed in snow

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