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Old 09-20-2019, 10:33 PM
 
Location: SoCal, but itching to relocate
345 posts, read 218,204 times
Reputation: 374

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We're looking at relocating to central Indiana. Most homes we've found of interest are in suburban neighborhoods and are on municipal water and sewer. However, from time to time, we find an interesting listing that's got private well water and/or septic.

We have no familiarity with being on well & septic. What do we need to look out for as home buyers? What questions do we ask and of whom?

Adding to our concerns is the desire to put in a back yard swimming pool. I would imagine that complicates matters.

Any advice from experienced people would be much appreciated!
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Old 09-20-2019, 11:27 PM
 
Location: northern va
1,617 posts, read 2,184,268 times
Reputation: 1400
assuming you're using an agent, utilize them first as they're going to know the local market/customs moreso than anyone here.

In my area, buyer has option to ask seller for septic inspection (drain field overview, distro box dug up, tank pumped, etc), along with a well inspect (to include water quality test). If either have issues, buyer can ask for repairs and/or credit or vacate contract. Well/septic inspect $500-600 depending on property location/setup.

If the subject property has an older septic and/or well setup, good idea to ask your inspector if any upgrades will need to be done ($$$) to get it up to code (down the road). I ran into that once with a septic system for a client that added thousands to get up to code..

Plenty of people are ok being on well/septic, I don't care for either.
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Old 09-21-2019, 12:17 AM
 
Location: NC
6,737 posts, read 8,289,262 times
Reputation: 14059
If the system is working well it does not need to be “brought up to code”. Septic can be repaired but not replaced using the code that was in existence when it was installed.

Also the current owner can refuse to do any repairs on anything if he chooses. The buyer can still buy, then make any improvements truly needed thereafter at his own expense.
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Old 09-21-2019, 04:57 AM
 
255 posts, read 54,892 times
Reputation: 579
Water pressure test, water quality test and a septic inspection. Done deal.
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Old 09-21-2019, 06:13 AM
 
Location: Needham, MA
6,593 posts, read 9,853,648 times
Reputation: 5654
In my mind, the requirements for septic and wells are very local and can be impacted by local law/building code/environment. I would definitely inquire with your buyer's agent (and if you have questions like this you should probably hire one if you haven't already) about what is typically done.

Generally speaking though, you want both systems looked at. For the well, water quality/pressure/and water volume (does the well run dry after using it for a while?) are important factors. You also want to have someone check the pump system and any filtration system on the premises. The septic should also be inspected by someone typically in that business (in MA that's typically done by the seller for you not sure about your state).
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Old 09-21-2019, 06:51 AM
 
Location: Boydton, VA
2,512 posts, read 3,199,096 times
Reputation: 4610
I'd want to know:

Exactly, where is the septic tank, the clean out opening, and the leach field. What size is the tank, when was it installed (per code ?, permit pulled ?), when was it last cleaned out. A septic tank is meant for human waste disposal only, and of course toilet paper, clothes washer water, bath water, dish water.....not for other items, not a garbage disposal,...altho' I'm sure there are folks that do so. A typical system, sized properly for the size home, should operate efficiently for about 10 years before a clean out is required. A clean out should cost less than $500, provided the clean out opening is accessible without spending hours searching for it.

When was the well drilled, by whom ? Is there a county/state record of the well (called a well registry).
If so, the well registry will provide the diameter, depth, depth of casing, depth to water, refresh rate, gallon per minute rate, depth to water, size of pump. Armed with the diameter, total depth, depth to water, you'll be able to calculate how much water is stored in the water column. The refresh rate will indicate how much time it will take to replace the water you draw out of the water column. The gallon per minute rate will indicate how much water you can use, and for what.

I've lived in a house that produced 1/2 gallon per minute, it was not sufficient enough to use for flushing the toilet, we used a rain water storage cistern for that. Later we drilled a 465' well and got 25 gallons per minute, enough to fill a livestock pond.

I've looked at a property that had a well that produced water, but doing my own "refresh rate" test, I pumped it dry in 5 minutes....waited 5 minutes and again pumped it dry in 5 minutes., then it went down to 4 minutes...I walked away from the deal.

Just some things you might want to consider....drilling a new well can be very expensive....adequate research on the front end can prevent heartache on the back end.

Regards
Gemstone1
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Old 09-21-2019, 07:40 AM
 
11,400 posts, read 8,093,915 times
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With well you will most likely need to get some kind of outside full house water treatment system put in place. If your power goes out after a storm or a tree knocks the power out you will not have water as it uses an electric pump most likely, as far as I know. On the bright side you won't nave a water or sewer bill but you will still have to pay for it with the septic and wells system. If the town or city decides to upgrade to city water and sewer you may be charged $30K or more for them to do it and it's not your choice to do it or not or how much they charge.

I have city water, but septic for sewer. After a very rainy period this year the system got too much water and sort of clogged. Luckily the toilet did not overflow but it almost did. It and the water draining from the tub would make gurgle sounds from the toilet. It also smelled like rotten eggs. After it was over one of my neighbors got their septic system pumped. I stuck it out and didn't need to do it and it's working fine now.

Also you will have a drain field, you should find out where the septic tank and drain field are as you should not put anything over the drain field like a shed nor plant trees on it. You have to watch out where you put a pool in for this reason.

Also if you should ever want to add an extra bathroom or an addition with an extra bathroom you may need to upgrade to a bigger septic tank.

Also be extra careful not to use bleach in your washer or pour things that are not septic safe or use non septic safe cleaners in the tub as chemicals can inhibit the natural process of septic.
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Old 09-21-2019, 09:52 AM
 
Location: SoCal, but itching to relocate
345 posts, read 218,204 times
Reputation: 374
Thank you ALL for your detailed answers! Super helpful. At this stage of our lives, I think we'll stick to looking at homes on muni services as was our original plan.
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Old 09-21-2019, 01:37 PM
 
Location: Rochester, WA
6,290 posts, read 3,529,858 times
Reputation: 17112
As someone who has always lived somewhat rurally, I definitely would not rule out places with wells and septics, just find a good buyers agent who knows a little about them to help you when looking at places, have them inspected, and go and attend the inspection when they are pumped. I always encourage my clients to go when the septic is being pumped, you can learn a lot from the pumper about your system and how to take care of it.
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Old 09-21-2019, 02:42 PM
 
Location: Texas Hill Country
10,364 posts, read 5,703,045 times
Reputation: 8674
See what the state water law is.


In Texas, if you have 5 acres or more, your well water does not have to be metered.
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