One of the most costly mistakes that our Clermont FL septic company sees with home sales is not taking time for septic tank inspections when buying a house.
When it comes to out of sight and out of mind, your septic system should not fall into that category. Failing to inspect and discuss the septic tank system with the owner could cost you thousands of dollars after you own the property.
When you hire a home inspector and they tell you they have concerns about the septic system, don’t feel like you could lose the house if you stir up trouble. A motivated seller may make the repairs in order to close, or at the least help pay for some of the costs involved.
There are a lot of pros to buying a home with a septic system but you want to do your homework before the purchase. The following tips will help you to understand the septic tank inspections process, so you are not going to encounter surprises down the road.
Home Buyer Tips For Septic Tank Inspections
1. Talk With the Homeowner
If you are seriously interested in buying the house, talk to the homeowner in detail about the septic tank system.
If they are working with a septic tank company that services, pumps, and inspects the system, then they should have paperwork that will help you understand how well the unit was maintained. The more documents, the better the unit has been cared for while this family owned the home.
2. Make A Visual Inspection
Locate the septic tank cover and drain field. Take a close look to see if the ground has a deep depression, standing water, a strong odor of any of the 7 signs of septic problems.
If the septic system is being neglected, or the owner is trying to sell before they pay for a service call from the septic company, be sure you discuss this with your Realtor. You may be able to negotiate a lower price to cover your costs to have a septic company service the tank.
3. Call In The Septic Experts
When it comes to buying a house, you pay a home inspector to give the entire home a check-up. Don’t assume a home inspector is an expert in septic system inspections. Call in the professional.
Your local licensed septic installation company will be able to determine the condition of the unit and recommend if anything needs attention before you buy. The cost for the inspection can range from $250 – $500, but this is money well spent if this is the house of your dreams.
4. Understand The Costs
It is one thing to have a licensed septic tank company tell you what is wrong with the septic system, it is another to get the information in writing.
Since you already paid to have the company come to the house for the inspection, ask the technician how much it will cost to:
- repair the unit, and
- completely replace the system.
Get both quotes in writing, regardless if it requires minimal work or requires a full replacement.
5. Confirm Length Of Contract Estimates
Don’t assume that the price you were given for work on a septic system will stand for years to come. Be sure to ask the technician to put in writing exactly how long they will honor those prices. Don’t assume the prices are good until you need work. They may only be valid for a few weeks or months.
6. Know The Age Of The Septic System
The septic tank will usually last somewhere between 25 to 30 years, depending on usage and maintenance. A copy of the county septic permit is a good indicator of age. If the inspection tells you the system is five years from reaching those limits, it is going to need replacing soon.
Now is the time where you get your Realtor to negotiate with the seller to see if they would consider lowering the price of the house to compensate the expense. Your Realtor will be able to tell if the seller is motivated or not, you don’t want to lose the house being too demanding.
7. Stay Informed
When the homeowner is covering the costs associated with the inspections, then you must get a copy of that report. The septic tank inspection report should include detailed analysis and pictures, especially when there are problems present.
This comprehensive report can be used to help the septic company you hire down the road better understand the condition of the system when you bought the house.
8. Get A 2nd Opinion
Replacing a septic system can be very costly, and a homeowner might not want to have to pay such an expense on their way out of the house. If you think the inspector was not qualified to do the work, research their experience and take the report to a licensed septic tank inspector, who can give you a second opinion.
9. Make Time for the Inspection
When the date for the septic tank inspection arrives, make time to be there to watch how things proceed. This commitment to the sale is important for a number of reasons.
Your appearance will eliminate any chance of collusion between real estate agent, inspector, or home owner. Everyone involved wants a fast sale, and you do not want any shortcuts to come at your expense. Realtors and homeowners might have that incentive to downplay septic tank issues for those reasons.
10. Seller Concerns
When the homeowner does not want to be around on the day the septic tank is being inspected, this might raise a red flag. Septic tank inspections can reveal years of neglect or severe problems, none of which are going to be cheap for the homeowner.
The septic tank inspections are an important part of the home-buying process, so make sure you are working with a licensed company that will be able to give you a good idea of the overall condition and needs of the system before you buy the home.