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Buying A House With a Septic Tank? Six Questions to Ask

04.01.2017  |  

Are You Thinking About Buying a House with a Septic Tank?

6 Questions to Ask the Vendor

You have found your ideal property and the estate agents leaflet mentions, probably in the last paragraph, that the property benefits from off-mains drainage. Here’s a few questions to ask the vendor to help avoid problems in the future.

1.Does the vendor own the land that contains the septic tank and soakaway? If the answer is yes, go to question 2. If the answer is no, then ask to see the operating agreement with the landowner. This should make clear that the vendor is responsible for the operation, maintenance and safety of the septic tank and soakaway. It should also contain rights of access to the land for routine inspection and maintenance. If there is no operating agreement, then you could well have problems in the future

2.Is the system shared with other households? If so ask if there is an agreement to share maintenance costs.

3.Does the septic tank drain into a watercourse? If it does, then the tank will need to be replaced with a small treatment plant on the point of sale or not later than Jan 2020. It will be an expensive item.

4.Is it possible to see the maintenance records? For example, routine de-sludging or, if it’s a treatment plant regular service visits. If the answer is yes, then all is good. If the answer is “we never bother, it’s self-cleaning” then it’s likely that you will face bills for the repair or replacement of the tank and the soakaway because solids will have migrated from the tank into the soakaway.

5.Does the tank only take waste from the bathrooms, toilets and kitchen? Any surface water or rain from the roof gutters should be directed away from the septic tank. It costs money to separate these systems.

6.How many people live in the property? If you are buying a larger property that currently has one or two residents and you plan to have more (and younger) folks in the house, then it would be worthwhile checking the volume of the tank. Septic tanks are really only settling chambers and need as long a residence time as possible to work effectively. If the tank is small and you increase the number of people using the tank, then it’s possible to flush solids out of the tank and into the soakaway.

If you get positive answers to these questions then it’s likely that the tank has been well managed and maintained and will probably continue to give years of trouble free, low cost service. If, however, some of the answers have raised doubts in your mind then you might want to consider having the system inspected for peace of mind. We can help with this. You can call us on 01900 870140 for advice at any time.