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Old 10-23-2012, 03:14 PM
 
Location: Cumberland County, TN
37 posts, read 140,555 times
Reputation: 52

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I’m considering a home purchase in Crossville. I’d like assistance from our helpful members with identifying a contractor that is qualified to perform a relatively-detailed inspection of the septic system, and subsequent pumping, in conjunction with a home inspection.

BACKGROUND: The seller and agent of the home say there have been no problems with the septic system, to date (home is 10 yrs.-old). The seller’s disclosure did not identify any previous issues with the septic system. However, when my buyer’s agent obtained the septic records, there was a 2003 letter from a Soil Consultant Supervisor. The letter said:

“We visited Lot ____ to evaluate problems with the Strategic Sewage Disposal Scheme (SSDS). The upper two lines appear to be too deep in the Lilly soil. Recommend abandon these lines and add appropriate area below.”

Among the septic records, there was also a Permit For Construction of Subsurface Sewage Disposal System (good for 3 years). The detailed sketch enclosed with the permit appeared to correct the issues identified, above. Unfortunately, there is no record of completion of the work permit. The current owner, and the original owner, claim they know nothing about any issued work permit. They know of no work on the septic system during their occupancy.

COMMENTS: Now, many of you will probably recommend that I run, as fast as I can, away from this property, and not purchase, because of the identified problems, and apparently unfinished work permit. Normally, that’s what I would do.

However, in every other respect, I like this home. It fits, for me. The price is very good. Last, but not least, the sellers are adamant about "no issues," to date, with the septic system.

I probably have several alternatives, and one of them is to make an offer on the property, and have a contingency of passing a septic inspection, as well as a home inspection. What else would you recommend? Several online sites recommend combining the septic inspection with the home inspection to reduce overall costs. Does anyone have any experience with combining the two for a reduced overall cost?

If I decide on a septic inspection, I need a qualified inspector. My buyer’s agent has already informed me, “this is beyond my scope of knowledge, and I can’t help you with finding an inspector.”

CONCLUSION: Any and all comments and recommendations are encouraged. If you know of a qualified inspector that can do the job, in accordance with the forum rules, please provide your recommendations via private mail. As a reminder, the property is in Crossville.

In advance, thanks for your constructive criticism and comments.
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Old 10-23-2012, 07:03 PM
 
Location: On the plateau, TN
15,208 posts, read 10,718,524 times
Reputation: 9987
Worldly, "IF" the inspection goes well and there is a problem down the road....is the lot large enough to install another drain field.....
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Old 10-23-2012, 07:10 PM
 
Location: Knoxville
4,327 posts, read 21,217,869 times
Reputation: 5169
As a home inspector, and knowing a lot of them in Tennessee, I will say the following...

You are wasting your money having a home inspector "inspect" the septic system. We (as a whole) are not really qualified to check out septic systems. At best, we can put dye tablets in and run a huge amount of water and look for the dye to perk up in the yard. While this will identify a failed system, it is not sufficient to identify small problems.

Call a septic contractor and have them come out and pump the system. They will have to open the tank to pump it, and will be able to inspect the tank, etc while it is open. Since they are in the business of septic systems, they know a whole lot more than anyone else.

Of course they said there were no problems, did you expect anything else? While I can understand the seller of the property knowing if there are problems, the agent really has no idea what's going on unless they are part owners, or live nearby, etc. They are just taking the seller's word for it....and the seller WANTS TO SELL!!!!

Since there is documentation that there was a problem, and NO documentation that the problem was resolved, you should assume the problem WAS NOT corrected. If it was me, I would want a Septic Professional to re-visit the property and address the concerns from 2003.

Crossville is outside of my normal service area, but I can give you a name of an excellent inspector there (just PM me).
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Old 10-23-2012, 08:14 PM
 
Location: The Conterminous United States
22,559 posts, read 47,889,503 times
Reputation: 13422
Barking Spider was the guy I was hoping to come along and offer assistance. And really, I knew he would because he is always so helpful on here. He is a highly respected home inspector in our area and I highly recommend his advice.
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Old 10-25-2012, 10:45 AM
 
Location: Cumberland County, TN
37 posts, read 140,555 times
Reputation: 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bones View Post
Worldly, "IF" the inspection goes well and there is a problem down the road....is the lot large enough to install another drain field.....
Good point....thanks! SKYSEA, another member, also pointed this out, and I appreciate it.

I believe there might be another place for an alternate drain field. The lot is slightly larger than 2 acres. Next to the current drain field, there is a larger area that is clear and free of trees and plants.

HYPOTHETICAL QUESTION: If the current septic system is defective, and must be replaced, and another drain field is not available, is it possible to remove the current system, and put in a new one in the same location? If it's possible, I assume the expense is much larger.....but how much larger?

Thanks, again, to everyone, for your assistance.
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Old 10-25-2012, 05:33 PM
 
Location: On the plateau, TN
15,208 posts, read 10,718,524 times
Reputation: 9987
Worldly, I have a friend in NJ that had to do that several years ago.

Removing tons and tons of earth, put in some kind of special plastic containers ( a gazillion of them), "special" sand, then new topsoil was just over $15,000....
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Old 10-27-2012, 09:27 PM
 
2,063 posts, read 6,626,126 times
Reputation: 2722
Quote:
Originally Posted by Worldly View Post
Good point....thanks! SKYSEA, another member, also pointed this out, and I appreciate it.

I believe there might be another place for an alternate drain field. The lot is slightly larger than 2 acres. Next to the current drain field, there is a larger area that is clear and free of trees and plants.

HYPOTHETICAL QUESTION: If the current septic system is defective, and must be replaced, and another drain field is not available, is it possible to remove the current system, and put in a new one in the same location? If it's possible, I assume the expense is much larger.....but how much larger?

Thanks, again, to everyone, for your assistance.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bones View Post
Worldly, I have a friend in NJ that had to do that several years ago.

Removing tons and tons of earth, put in some kind of special plastic containers ( a gazillion of them), "special" sand, then new topsoil was just over $15,000....

One "replacement" type septic system is the Wisconsin Mound or a raised septic system. I saw one implemented where the perc tests failed but the builder was determined to build a home. If I remember the numbers correctly it was around $20,000.

Septic Mound Systems as Components of Alternative Septic Systems

http://www.nesc.wvu.edu/pdf/ww/publi...ne/pl_su99.pdf

My advice is, if they don't appear to have fixed the problem and have the documentation to prove it, keep looking!
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Old 10-30-2012, 01:13 AM
 
Location: Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX
2,067 posts, read 6,220,162 times
Reputation: 3476
Quote:
Originally Posted by Barking Spider View Post
As a home inspector, and knowing a lot of them in Tennessee, I will say the following...

You are wasting your money having a home inspector "inspect" the septic system. We (as a whole) are not really qualified to check out septic systems. At best, we can put dye tablets in and run a huge amount of water and look for the dye to perk up in the yard. While this will identify a failed system, it is not sufficient to identify small problems.

Call a septic contractor and have them come out and pump the system. They will have to open the tank to pump it, and will be able to inspect the tank, etc while it is open. Since they are in the business of septic systems, they know a whole lot more than anyone else.

Of course they said there were no problems, did you expect anything else? While I can understand the seller of the property knowing if there are problems, the agent really has no idea what's going on unless they are part owners, or live nearby, etc. They are just taking the seller's word for it....and the seller WANTS TO SELL!!!!

Since there is documentation that there was a problem, and NO documentation that the problem was resolved, you should assume the problem WAS NOT corrected. If it was me, I would want a Septic Professional to re-visit the property and address the concerns from 2003.

Crossville is outside of my normal service area, but I can give you a name of an excellent inspector there (just PM me).
Barking Spider,

ABSOLUTELY!! You would not believe the number of Yahoos we have running around here claiming to inspect septic systems. We even have one that calls his septic certification from NAWT a State Septic Inspection License! He even claims to be able to provide the State required septic certification letter for real estate transfers. I lose plenty of jobs to these guys who throw in the septic inspection (??) for free!

OP,

Not sure if you have finished your deal or not but there is some good advice here. I would also be highly concerned about the open Permit For Construction. There have been many new rules and laws written at the Federal level that have apparently just recently taken affect. In specific these were coming out of the EPA and many States follow EPA guidelines for On Site Sewage Facilities (OSSF, septic systems). I'm trying to track these down now but it could possibly affect this issue as well. If you have not already done so I would obtain something IN WRITING from the issuer of the permit to state what ALL needs to be done to close that permit. At least you will have something to fall back on if you find out otherwise.
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