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Old 07-19-2012, 01:20 AM
 
19 posts, read 105,556 times
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We are planning to make an offer on a 15 year old house with a septic system. The standard NVAR contract gives the option of having the seller pay for the inspection at "sole risk of damage to the Property" or the buyer can pay for the inspection. The form also lists three levels of inspection: 1) walk-over visual inspection with probing; 2) pumping and inspection of all tanks; and/or 3) excavation and visual inspection of all distribution boxes or systems.

What is the usual practice in this area - do the sellers usually order and pay for the inspection, or the buyers? Who usually performs the inspection? Since we are nervous about buying a house with septic (more out of ignorance than anything else), we would be happy to pay for the inspection and to have all three levels of inspection done if that would be acceptable to the seller.

Our agent has not really given us any guidance on this issue. Any advice would be appreciated!
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Old 07-19-2012, 06:40 AM
 
Location: Virginia-Shenandoah Valley
6,560 posts, read 10,854,691 times
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What is the age of the property? Mine is 41 years old and we just had some major work done to the tune of $6000 plus. Never mind, just saw 15 years. I would think that an inspection would be required by the locality before it could be sold. You might call the health district for that area and ask their advice. 15 years old is not old at all for septic systems. The visual with probing inspection should be fine with that system but I would call the health district anyway.
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Old 07-19-2012, 07:57 AM
 
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Septic is not that big of a deal if it has been maintained properly. As far as inspection, our old house had a septic and I know when we bought it was pumped/drained and inspected while empty. I'm not 100% sure, but I think pumping is required prior to transfer of ownership. Either way, option two would definitely be my choice. Walk over and visual inspection won't tell you if the tank is cracked and excavation and visual inspection seems extreme for a system that's only 15 years old and has no history of issues (assuming this is the case).

I don't remember who paid for the pump/inspection when we bought our old place, but I think it was the seller. Like the pp suggested, contact the health dept. for your county and find out what is required. If required, I would definitely request the seller to pay.
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Old 07-19-2012, 01:58 PM
 
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I don't think 15 years for a septic tank is too old. Have it pumped and inspected.
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Old 07-19-2012, 02:02 PM
 
Location: Sneads Ferry, NC
11,237 posts, read 19,703,291 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by curiouserest View Post
3) excavation and visual inspection of all distribution boxes or systems.
There's no need for this third step unless you see discolored or wet areas of soil where the distribution boxes are.
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Old 07-19-2012, 02:06 PM
 
Location: North Beach, MD on the Chesapeake
33,843 posts, read 41,948,655 times
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As a note, literally 10's of thousands of houses in VA and MD are on septic. Can there be issues? Yes. Have the inspection done, which is required in MD. I would assume the same for VA. If you also have a well there should be a Health Department inspection for that, also.
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Old 07-19-2012, 05:03 PM
 
Location: Aldie, VA
199 posts, read 602,238 times
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Regardless of who pays for the inspector, make sure you pick the inspector. If the seller is going to pay for it, make sure they let you pick them. You don't want to leave it up to the seller's cheapest bidder.
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Old 07-19-2012, 06:13 PM
 
Location: My beloved Bluegrass
14,686 posts, read 10,574,793 times
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In my area it seems that more people have spectic than not. I know at least three states do not require inspection because we have never had one. If a buyer wanted it for our current house they would pay for it.

We've always had septic and it is no big deal. You can do things to help keep it from running into trouble. For instance some toilet papers degrade better than others (Charmin is not recommended but northern and cottonelle are fine). You shouldn't use bleach if you can possibly avoid it; if you do use bleach you need to regularly treat with something like rid-x. It is recommended that you not use your garbage disposal. We've never had to have one pumped and our current one is over 20 years old.

If you do opt to have it inspected I would go with option 2. I know $6,000 to repair sounds bad but keep in mind you don't have to pay a sewer bill.
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Old 07-19-2012, 11:34 PM
 
3,164 posts, read 6,121,790 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by North Beach Person View Post
As a note, literally 10's of thousands of houses in VA and MD are on septic. Can there be issues? Yes. Have the inspection done, which is required in MD. I would assume the same for VA. If you also have a well there should be a Health Department inspection for that, also.
We bought a house in Loudoun 4 years ago that is on a septic system and no inspection was required. I don't remember if our home inspector looked at it or not, but I would assume that he did considering our home inspection took 8 hours for a home that was 4 years old and no one had ever lived in it!
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Old 07-19-2012, 11:46 PM
 
3,164 posts, read 6,121,790 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldhag1 View Post
In my area it seems that more people have spectic than not. I know at least three states do not require inspection because we have never had one. If a buyer wanted it for our current house they would pay for it.

We've always had septic and it is no big deal. You can do things to help keep it from running into trouble. For instance some toilet papers degrade better than others (Charmin is not recommended but northern and cottonelle are fine). You shouldn't use bleach if you can possibly avoid it; if you do use bleach you need to regularly treat with something like rid-x. It is recommended that you not use your garbage disposal. We've never had to have one pumped and our current one is over 20 years old.

If you do opt to have it inspected I would go with option 2. I know $6,000 to repair sounds bad but keep in mind you don't have to pay a sewer bill.
When we had our system pumped out recently we were told not use Charmin also but to use Scott.

You've never had your septic pumped in 20 years? We were told to have it pumped out at least every 4 years. It's cheap, around $200. I wouldn't give up using my garbage disposal even if it meant that I had to have it pumped every 2 years, which we haven't. We also use bleach, every week or two. According to the EPA, usually septic systems need to be pumped out every one to three years. HowStuffWorks "Pumping Your Septic Tank: A Good Idea" This article also says that one-third of houses in the US are on septic systems. Most of my neighbors have their's pumped every 4 or 5 years. I certainly wouldn't let it go beyond 5 years and risk the mess it could make if it backs up! It's not worth to save $200!

I don't know if it matters but my neighborhood has fairly large homes, 5-6 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms. I assume that means we have larger septic tanks, but I don't really know.
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