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Old 01-02-2010, 12:20 PM
63 posts, read 124,395 times
Reputation: 41


Hey everyone,

I am buying a house and just completed my home inspections. The MLS listed the property as having new insulation and septic. My inspections on the house have produced an unsatisfactory result on the septic system (treatment tank) and a satisfactory with concerns (septic absorption area has a high water condition and may be nearing the end of it's life) along with sewage flow problems. The seller did have the septic system repaired for some reason a year ago. This doesn't sound like a new septic system to me at all however given the problems I have found nor is the system working as expected for it's age.

The insulation within the crawl space is also falling down and my inspector recommended it be replaced - not sounding like new insulation either. I was wondering since the MLS has stated these were new what my options are - if there are any regarding what the MLS said and the condition I found it in.

During my inspection on the septic system it also revealed that the tank is only a 500 gallon tank. It's a three bed room home. I may be wrong here, and do not want to push the seller if it is not needed, but I thought a 1,000 gallon tank was the standard occuring to NJ regulations. Since the tank must be repaired does this mean the tank size must also be increased? Since there were repairs a year ago does this mean the septic system should have been brought up to the current code? If not then that is fine - but I don't want to have to replace the septic system a year from now and pay extra to bring the entire system up to standards when it should have been done already.

- NewBlood.
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Old 01-02-2010, 01:23 PM
Location: DFW - Coppell / Las Colinas
36,738 posts, read 40,891,236 times
Reputation: 44309
Usually features listed n MLS are a yes or no. In ours it does not mean it is new or old unless the agent has put it in the description. New is a vague and dangerous word we hardly ever use because once it's a day old it is no longer new.

If your inspection reveals a serious problem with the septic I would either ask for proper installation of a new system or walk on the house. You can also ask the insulation to be replaced where it is missing.

On the septic system I would recommend getting a professional septic person out to evaluate. Most city inspectors have only basic knowledge. Your inspector may have a bigger expertise than most.

You need to ask for needed and reasonable repairs if realistic or walk on the house.
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Old 01-02-2010, 02:23 PM
63 posts, read 124,395 times
Reputation: 41
Thanks for responding Rakin. I used a certified inspection agency whose sole job is to inspect septic systems to look at the septic system, have it pumped, and give me a report. He recommended the size be increased to 'todays standards' - which are 1000 gallons. I am not sure when that requirement was put into place but I believe it was at least three years ago.

At the moment I am not interested in going to closing with this house based on the septic inspection results as currently presented. I know I don't have the funds to afford replacing a septic system should it die on me within a year or two of moving in.
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Old 01-02-2010, 02:30 PM
Location: Tempe, Arizona
4,511 posts, read 12,522,127 times
Reputation: 2197
I doubt you have any recourse regarding the MLS information. If your MLS is anything like ours, there is usually fine print on the listing stating that all information should be verified by recipient and none is guaranteed as accurate. Your inspection was your opportunity to verify the information, which you found to not be entirely accurate. Rakin gave you good options, and sounds like you've made your decision.
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Old 01-02-2010, 03:03 PM
Location: Barrington
56,583 posts, read 38,985,915 times
Reputation: 18297
The current NJ code for single family homes is a minimum of 250 gallons per bedroom with a minimum of a 1000 gallon tank. Speculation on my part that the system was installed before 1000 gallon became code. There are no laws that compel bringing pre-existing systems into code.

Any changes to or replacement of, will require the tank to conform to code.

The information within the MLS advertized a new septic. Either the listing agent or the homeowner is mistaken, dependent upon the source of the source of information.

There may or may not be new insulation somewhere. I would not assume that means, everywhere.

I agree with Rakin about the term " new" as it relates to just about anything. I have had endless homeowners tell me this or that was new. When I asked them to put a date to it, they either don't remember or it comes out that the roof is 10 years old, installed while the sellers occupied the property, so they consider it new.

The results of your inspection will haunt the sellers. Either they take care of business or they are required to disclose and sell it, as is to someone else. Time for your agent to make the either/or option clear to the listing agent and seller, while twisting the "new" knife.
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Old 01-02-2010, 03:11 PM
Location: Central Texas
20,816 posts, read 40,127,625 times
Reputation: 24369
We, likewise, never use the word "new" because if you install carpeting, for example, as soon as someone walks on it (including the installer!) someone can consider it no longer "new" and take you to court on it if they are so inclined. If something was recently installed, we'll put "2009 carpet", for example, instead.

The Seller's Disclosure has a place for the seller to check whether something exists or not, not if it's "new" or not. Don't know how that plays in your state, though, of course.
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Old 01-02-2010, 03:51 PM
28,461 posts, read 76,240,392 times
Reputation: 18535
I hate to deal with issues like this. First, on the issue of "inspection" it sounds very much to me like the "service" that inspected the OP's septic system is the kind of firm that very well may have an incentive to "find something to fix" and that tends to result in a less than unbiased assessment. Now when it comes to things like septic systems there are probably very few qualified firms / individuals that DO NOT have some relationship to a firm that has an installation/ design business, but that relationship SHOULD NOT overly bias their efforts to "upsell" folks on the latest and greatest type septic system as it my experience that short of some TOTALLY neglected system OR a situation where the ground water is completly screwed up by overloading from neighboring properties even really old systems rarely "fail". It may be smart to get a second or even third opinion not as to the system being "undersized" by current standard but the technical issues of whether the soil conditions are appropriate for the rate of flow that your family will likely produce (called a "perc" test) and a video inspection of the pipes and tanks to ensure there are no cracks, intruding roots or insoluble masses that will be a "big expense" very soon.

The issue with the insulation is MINOR in the extreme -- literally the fix is generally to bend some wire coat hangers to keep the insulation in place.

If the AGENT said the stuff was "new" and the SELLER did not have invoice / reciept that is a rookie mistake -- nothing to get worked up over and certainly not worth wasting time trying to get some reduction / compensation for...

Good Luck!
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Old 01-02-2010, 03:51 PM
Location: NE Atlanta suburbs
472 posts, read 782,703 times
Reputation: 214
If you have a water table issue in the absorption area, do not buy a house that is on septic. We bought a house last year that we have spent over $5k in repairs on for the septic (because of high water), and still have major issues. We can't flush toilets, run dishwasher, shower, put anything down the drains, period. Have had two soil scientists out, spoken with attorneys, and have county health enviromentalists and engineers out that still can't fix our problem. What a mess, I wouldn't wish these problems on my worst enemy. Do yourself a favor, and run. Fast.

BTW, our problems were not disclosed and you're very lucky your septic inspector found these problems. We closed in summer months when septic was working fine, but during the wet rainy months we're totally out of commission. All our septic contractors said ours was a problem that probably would not have been discovered during the dry months when the water table was at it's lowest.

PS...I've learned more than I have ever wanted to about septic systems in this past year. Normal tank size for 3 BR is 1000 gallon.
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Old 01-02-2010, 06:09 PM
Location: Cranford NJ
1,049 posts, read 3,715,884 times
Reputation: 403
Relax, first of all, the SELLER has his/her back against the wall. They cannot sell the home with a failed septic. This is one of those home inspection issues that falls back on the seller. The septic system can only be inspected by a state certified sanitarian. The other thing is that with the ground frozen, the system will not work like it should. (And if you continue to drain your laundry into your septic. Bleach and other detergents kill the microbes that make your system work.)

If you really like it, I would not walk away from this home. It looks to me, like you're getting a new system. (and NEW insulation).

Agents carry Errors and ommission isurance, if you do walk away from this home, I would go after the cost for inspections. Because the agent put new in the listing. I would also look at the seller's diclosure, see what the seller is trying to hide. Did the Listing agent sign the disclosure?
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Old 01-02-2010, 06:22 PM
28,461 posts, read 76,240,392 times
Reputation: 18535
I did not see the OP say the system is "failed" (a term that is pretty black and white) but instead the OP said the septic guy's report said the "treatment tank" is "unsatisfactory" due to it is size which is smaller than current standards along with the "satisfactoy with concerns" on the "field" mostly due its age and relative water level -- darned GREY areas.

This would NOT appear to be "back against the wall" situation at all and the "new" term as used in the listing almost certainly is not something that an errors & omissions policy would cover as the most recent explanation I got from my insurance guy is that the E&O carrier will not pay out on any claim that the buyer discovered with an inspection prior to moving forward with an offer. I think this is consistent with the stuff that NAR says: REALTOR® Magazine Online: Online Exclusive: Reduce Your Risk, Reduce Your Premiums (http://www.realtor.org/archives/feat1200704?presentationtemplate=rmo-design/pt_articlepage_migratedcontent_print&presentationt emplateid=06ad608049e7ba93ab3dab87f8d337ee - broken link)
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