Why have a pre-purchase septic system inspection done?
Septic system inspections are something we are asked to perform regularly now, which is quite a change from only a couple of years ago. Our thoughts about this are pretty simple: If you are going to pay half a million dollars or perhaps much more for a house, you should be able to expect the toilets to flush reliably. One in four homes in B.C. uses a septic system, or on site waste disposal system as opposed to a connection to a municipal sewer system. A septic system can be an inexpensive and reliable method of dealing with waste water, but they must be looked after and repaired or replaced as required to ensure they can continue to do the job they were designed for. A home inspector or a septic tank pumping contractor is not usually qualified to do this type of inspection. It is a very specialized task that requires a comprehensive knowledge of septic system installation practices, water movement in soil, regulatory requirements, as well as thousands of dollars worth of specialized equipment.
As the Fraser Valley and lower mainland become increasingly more densely populated, more and more attention is paid to on site waste disposal, and the need to ensure that new and existing systems are installed and constructed in accordance with regulations aimed at protecting public health. A system that cost a few thousand dollars to install 30 years ago may now need to be replaced with one costing literally ten times as much today. Understandably, banks are increasingly concerned that a home sold today may require the new homeowner looking for 20 to 30 thousand dollars to replace a failing septic system soon after moving in.
If you are in the market for a new rural home, be sure to discuss the need for a septic system inspection with your Realtor who will make it a subject of any offer to purchase. If the system receives a clean bill of health, you will have the peace of mind of knowing that your plumbing will work correctly, and if deficiencies are found then they can be dealt with prior to your family moving into the home, and the cost of the repairs may be negotiated into the price you pay for the home.