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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Posts
    12

    Default What/Who is Involved with Septic Replacement and How Long should it take?

    We put an offer in on a home in late February 2014. April 15, the seller of the home we are buying got around to doing the septic inspection.....and it failed. We were told at that time, the tank needed replacing, but they weren't sure about the distribution box. I have received no updates on that from anyone. The system is usable - so, they wanted us to close with the seller putting funds in escrow for the work to be done. We said "No, fix it first". Since that time, we have closed on the house we were selling - and all our possession went into storage units. Our dogs went into boarding , and we moved in with my dad.

    Today, I emailed the sellers realtor, asking for an update. She said details are still being gathered. I am unable to find anything regarding the timeline all of this should take and what govt offices need to be involved. Something has been going on at the house though, as there are deep holes that have been dug, and some of the ground disturbed.

    Does anyone have any experience with this that can give me an idea of an average timeframe for a tank replacement?

    We were hoping to close by next week..........but, with minimal info from the seller, I'm not sure that's going to happen. The sellers lawyer on April 24 told us "a few weeks".

    Any input would be appreciated !!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Pacific Northwet
    Posts
    1,643

    Default Re: What/Who is Involved with Septic Replacement and How Long should it take?

    The design of a septic system is highly variable depending on soil conditions, size of the house, and setbacks (distances away from) property lines, creeks, wells, cut banks, and other natural and manmade features of the neighborhood.

    Generally, the very first step is what's known as a "perc test" wherein the porosity of the soil is determined. This usually involves digging several deep holes, and an inspector from the local health department or a certified soils engineer examines and test the soil.

    Only after the characteristics of the soil have been determined can a septic system be designed. Then this design must be approved by the local governing authority -- usually a health department -- before any permits can be issued. Since you're dealing with a government office, don't expect a quick return on the permit. Local builders or septic installers will be better able to give you an approximate timeline for your area. (Some places have a turnaround of less than a week; others will take several months.)

    Construction cannot commence until permits are issued. Once a permit is in hand it depends on the contractor's schedule. Construction generally takes less than a week, depending on the complexity of the design.

    As a buyer, I would be comfortable closing on the home IF the system has been designed, a permit has been issued, and a sum in the amount of the estimated cost of replacement per the approved design (plus 10% for contingencies) has been placed in escrow. As part of escrow, any excess funds would be returned to the seller.

    When it comes to septic systems, having a design without permit approval is worthless. If the design is for gravity feed to perforated pipe in a gravel-filled trench near the house, but the county demands effluent be pumped to a sand mound several hundred feet away, the designs are totally different and the cost can be tens of thousands of dollars different. Many jurisdictions also require a designated "repair area" -- an area away from the drainfield where a new drainfield can be installed should the original one fail.
    Last edited by Fencepost; 05-05-2014 at 04:02 PM.
    The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: What/Who is Involved with Septic Replacement and How Long should it take?

    Fencepost, thank you for sharing that information! I was having a hard time finding information on the chain of events. I did hear back from our seller, and it appears more has been going on the realtor was aware of, so we are on the right track.

    I appreciate your inout. Thank you.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    1,668

    Default Re: What/Who is Involved with Septic Replacement and How Long should it take?

    A pretty good description of the process.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Pacific Northwet
    Posts
    1,643

    Default Re: What/Who is Involved with Septic Replacement and How Long should it take?

    P.S. -- don't forget about the cost of any landscaping that may be necessary in order to return the lawn to a usable state!
    The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.

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