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Anyone know anything about septic systems??

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Relic, May 12, 2010.


  1. Relic

    Relic Cow are you?

    Sep 12, 2006
    Robbinsville, NJ
    Quick back story - the wife and I are house hunting and have found a great house in the mountains (yeah they exist in NJ..)that we love a lot. We made an offer, it was accepted, but our subsequent inspection raised a red flag or two regarding the house's septic system. Apparently it's fairly new, installed in 2006. But our inspectors stated some serious doubts about the size of the bed/leech field. It was too small to be up to code for a 4 bedroom house, they felt. They offered to check with the county for the plans/permits, etc to make sure that it's basically legally installed. Aaaand guess what? The county has absolutely no paperwork on it. It was possibly installed with no permits and may not be up to code. We explained this to the sellers and asked that if they get get an engineer to come out, measure everything to be sure it's up to code and certify it as such, and we're golden. They refused and offered to only do a load test instead. Woopee! So they offer to test if the thing works. We kind of already know that... :rolleyes:
    I'm getting ready to walk away and loose a good $4000 invested into this house already.
    So, understanding that the laws of every state can be potentially very different, what are the real risks for me as a home owner if the septic should go down or need to be replaced with no paperwork/certs registered with the county?
     
  2. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    Shouldnt the sellers have to have the house up to code before the house is sold??
     
  3. Relic

    Relic Cow are you?

    Sep 12, 2006
    Robbinsville, NJ
    That's what's bugging me. I guess that they can sell it without the septic being certified.. no one at all, even our lawyer seems to be saying "STOP RIGHT THERE!" I'm pretty much the only one pushing back on this.
    On the contract, it's stated that they are aware that everything is up to code and there is proper paperwork on the septic, central unit etc. But yet they cannot provide the paperwork for the septic - if it comes to the worst case scenario, that's my way out of the contract.
     
  4. In case you haven't already exhausted this option, I'd get some kind of third party consumer rights person involved. BC that is just crappy (haha) and I don't see any way how that would be legal
     
  5. What are the risks? Have to replace the septic system.

    So... say ~$10k-$12k for a "normal" septic system, anywhere from 50% to 500% more for an "engineered" field depending on whether it needs to be pumped or not.
     
  6. RWP

    RWP

    Jul 1, 2006
    Just curious, how do you have 4k invested in it? Anyway to get that back?

    If everything else is right with the house maybe you can have the field certified with the county somehow. My last house was 3 bedrooms and the field wasn't all that big. Maybe 30 x 60 feet. Is there room to add to it?

    It's always something isn't it!!! :eyebrow:
     
  7. JimB52

    JimB52 User Supporting Member

    May 24, 2007
    East Coast
    A load test should reveal if the system has problems.
    The fact that it's 4 years old and the homeowner has no paperwork on a $10,000+ job would make me a little suspicious.
    Or a lot suspicious.
     
  8. Relic

    Relic Cow are you?

    Sep 12, 2006
    Robbinsville, NJ
    Well, attorney's fees, inspection fees, mortgage appraisal fees...it adds up fast.

    See that's what we had asked for - we offered that if they agree to have an engineer come out, measure and certify, we would drop the issue, but they wont do it. They will only have an engineer of their choice come out and load test it. Hmmm...
    I was present at the time the guys were measuring the bed and it was no joke maybe about 20' x 30' for a 4 bedroom house. The only thing that I can think of, is because it literally sits on the side of a mountain the drainage may be such that they don't need a larger leach field? I dunno..
     
  9. RWP

    RWP

    Jul 1, 2006
    Damn. I wonder if there is anyone in the county office that would help you out. There must be septic field inspectors that would know what is going on and give you advice. Either way this sucks.
     
  10. becker4567

    becker4567

    Jul 26, 2008
    There is something fishy here! The county should be involved in this big time. The current owner needs to provide proof as to the validity and legality of the waste system. If it was installed without permits, the county needs to make the current owner have the system fully inspected or it cannot be sold. In real estate, there is no such thing as 'as is'. If the person at the county office will not help you, go to his (or her) supervisor. The real estate agent should be a little more on the ball as to buyer/seller liability.
     
  11. Just think about what else in the house may have been done without paperwork or certification. Anywhere from electrical systems about to burn down the house that wont be covered by insurance because they weren't signed off by an electrician, to plumbing that will give all your music gear damaged that also wasn't signed off or covered by insurance. Red flag means RED FLAG.
     
  12. MakiSupaStar

    MakiSupaStar The Lowdown Diggler

    Apr 12, 2006
    Huntington Beach, CA
    +1. Unless laws are different where you live regarding this.
     

  13. Things don't HAVE to be up to code. Things that aren't generally have to be reported to the purchaser - but as a purchaser you can buy a house with scads of code violations.

    Believe me - I've bought two houses and both have had numerous (although minor) code violations. Most areas will make you have a water test and septic test - but even if they fail, you can still buy it.

    If you buy a house - it has code violations. If it's brand new, they're probably minimal. If it's older - good luck... never mind the way code has changed.

    ...and inspectors miss a lot even in new construction. I've built enough stuff and run it through code inspections to know how minimal they really are.
     
  14. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal

    In Ca, I believe that a house does have to be up to code before it can be put on the market. I won't say I know for sure, I surely havent tried to sell or anything, but I remember when my parents were thinking about moving they had someone come to give them an estimate. They have a den built onto the house that my dad built with my uncles way back when. Before they could get an estimate they had to have an inspector come and check that everything was up to code, and luckily the self built den passed inspection, even though they never ended up selling.

    Side note: My parents house is the house that the original owners of In-N-Out lived in before making their fat stacks.
     
  15. Buy a house with a really bad septic system and you won't have to say "Get off my lawn."
     
  16. Relic

    Relic Cow are you?

    Sep 12, 2006
    Robbinsville, NJ
    haha very good point!
     
  17. MakiSupaStar

    MakiSupaStar The Lowdown Diggler

    Apr 12, 2006
    Huntington Beach, CA
    So let's take stock of your search so far.

    You've got a house with crappy college kids for neighbors, you found a house that was exposed to a toxic dump, then another house with a radon problem, and now a house with a crappy (give it a moment, you'll see what I did there) septic system. I gotta say with a track record like this, I would cut your losses, run for the hills and pitch a tent in the woods. Maybe you can find a doublewide in a trailer park before it gets hit by a tornado.
     
  18. Relic

    Relic Cow are you?

    Sep 12, 2006
    Robbinsville, NJ
    LOL, I know it sounds like I have the worst luck of the century.. (BTW - the radon and the crappy septic are the same house, it's been only two houses)

    But it's not really bad luck at all, what it really is is a function of price range. For what we're qualified for we can get a decent house with smaller property, or we can reach a little and get a larger, better house that may need some work. Work being a new roof, a new driveway, fencing in the yard, a new kitchen, a new bathroom, etc etc But what I'm finding interestingly enough is that people who have the major issues like radon and illegal septic and toxic waste dumps..., are totally predictable to me now after some experience. They'll be the ones selling the nice big house with the new roof, new kitchen, new bathrooms, and the neatly groomed lawn for a price that you cant refuse...
    So, I may bitch and moan and start Fassa threads, but I'm kind of bringing it on myself. To be honest, I just LOVE to bitch and moan :) Stay tuned there's PLENTY more where this came from!
     
  19. That is because it was an addition for which permits/inspection data didn't exist.

    ...and even if it didn't pass, I bet you the purchaser can sign off. I mean - you can buy condemned houses.

    "When a seller signs a standard purchase agreement, he or she is required to disclose certain known problems and hazards to the buyer. In most cases, the seller must provide the buyer with a Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement, which supplements the information provided in the purchase agreement. This statement must disclose all known structural defects, as well as problems with or information about the heating, plumbing, mechanical, and electrical systems. The seller also must include potential problems of which he or she is aware such as easements, environmental hazards, landfills, flooding, zoning violations, or noise problems. It is also the duty of the seller's agent to conduct a visual inspection of the home and report all facts that materially affect the value or desirability of the property. These disclosures, while required, are not part of the contract between the buyer and the seller and are not warranties by the seller. Just because problems are listed on this statement does not mean that the seller must repair the problems, but the buyer may request repairs or a price break because of the problems. "
     
  20. Radon isn't a major issue - Radon mitigation is relatively cheap and easy.

    Believe me - I live in an area notorious for elevated Radon levels.

    http://www.epa.gov/radon/states/images/michigan.gif

    My house tested at about 4x the acceptable level (4 pico Curies/Liter), and that is about normal around here. Lots of houses test much higher. In my county 40% of the houses test above acceptable levels.
     

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