Septic System 101 For Home Buyers

Septic System 101 For Home Buyers

Septic Systems 101 for​ Home Buyers
If you’re a​ city dweller who is​ looking for​ a​ home in​ the​ suburbs, it’s likely that you’re looking at​ homes with septic for​ the​ first time .​
This situation tends to​ make buyers nervous .​
It needn’t .​
Let’s take an​ overview of​ what a​ simple septic system is, how it’s maintained, and​ what you can do if​ you’re buying a​ home that uses one .​
a​ septic system is​ a​ self-contained system for​ disposing of​ sewerage .​
They’re frequently found in​ rural and​ suburban areas that do not have public sewerage systems .​
the​ system one sees most often is​ a​ holding tank in​ which enzyme and​ bacterial action decomposes the​ waste material and​ buried lines in​ a​ drainage field use soil to​ strain out what remains .​
Septic permits are usually issued specifying the​ number of​ bedrooms a​ house may have that is​ to​ be built on the​ lot for​ which the​ permit is​ being issued .​
How well the​ soil percolates (how well water drains through the​ soil) on the​ lot is​ taken into account when issuing the​ permit .​
It typically costs between $6,000 and​ $10,000 to​ install a​ conventional system in​ the​ part of​ the​ country I​ live in .​
Systems are usually adequate for​ the​ size of​ the​ house because of​ the​ permit system .​

When a​ system and​ the​ demands of​ a​ household are in​ balance, it​ can be literally years between times any maintenance is​ needed .​
Some jurisdictions require that they be pumped periodically .​
There are companies which make a​ specialty of​ this .​
In my area it​ costs about $200 to​ have a​ septic tank pumped .​
Home Buyer Precautions
There are a​ number of​ things a​ homebuyer can do when buying a​ home with a​ septic system to​ minimize the​ possibility of​ having a​ problem .​
You can make your contract offer subject to​ a​ septic inspection and​ pumping .​
You can ask the​ seller to​ sign an​ affidavit stating that to​ the​ best of​ his knowledge the​ permit was issued for​ the​ number of​ bedrooms the​ home has, or, alternatively, you can check at​ the​ courthouse yourself .​
Just call and​ ask what department handles the​ permits, then call that department and​ ask about archived information.
Water should not stand for​ hours after a​ heavy rain on property with a​ septic system .​
There should never be any unpleasant odor associated with a​ septic system.
Alternative Systems
What we’ve been talking about is​ a​ simple conventional septic tank and​ drain field .​
It used to​ be virtually impossible to​ install a​ septic system where the​ soil does not drain well, or​ where the​ water table is​ high .​
Clay soils don’t drain well .​
High water tables are often encountered near the​ ocean, near marshy areas, and​ in​ areas near large bodies of​ water .​
Some pretty amazing systems which can handle problem areas have been designed in​ recent years.
I was recently talking to​ a​ builder friend of​ mine who is​ building a​ new home for​ his own family .​
the​ soil on their property drains very poorly .​
He has done some research and​ has contracted out having an​ alternative system installed .​
He got three bids which ranged from $18,000 to​ $60,000 .​
After talking to​ the​ manufacturer, he accepted the​ low bid .​
It looks like the​ finished job will come in​ right at​ $20,000 and​ the​ contractor is​ following the​ procedure recommended by the​ manufacturer.
I’ve seen very few re-sales of​ properties using these super-duper systems-on-steroids, but I​ predict they’ll start turning up fairly soon .​
My builder friend says he could build a​ house on a​ rock using the​ best new systems .​
It sounds like we have some interesting developments to​ look forward to, doesn’t it?

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