How to Buy a Home with a Septic System

Should I Buy a Home with a Septic System?Septic systems are environmentally friendly solutions that limit water usage and provide natural moisture for a Dana Point homeowner's yard. However, purchasing a home with a septic system can be a bit of a minefield, especially because an older one can present serious trouble for owners down the line. A good septic system can last for 25 years, but this time frame is a drop in the bucket for a 150-year home. Here are a few tips to avoid a major mistake.

Consider a Specialist

Few people will buy a home without a general home inspection, but not every buyer will hire a septic system specialist. A routine inspection may consist of a few tests that determine if the septic system works. A specialist will take the time to look at the inner mechanics of the system to get a sense of how well it's withstood the test of time. It's not required, but taking the extra step to hire a specialist can reveal how certain patterns impact the system. For example, yard growth can interfere with the system's functionality. If tree roots are edging closer to the components, a specialist can catch the problem and give buyers a heads up before they finalize the paperwork.

Common Repairs

Just because a system isn't perfect, doesn't mean that the property should be abandoned. Standard maintenance and repairs include replacing risers, installing new filters, clearing out the solids, removing vegetation, and diverting backwash. If any of these repairs need completing, buyers can negotiate the costs with the seller before the sale is finalized.

There are several ways to ask a seller to help pay for the repairs. The overall price of the home may be lowered, the seller may choose to pick up the tab of some (or all) closing costs, or the seller could pay for the repairs outright. The right option for each buyer will depend on everything from the total price of the repairs to the terms of their lender. A financial expert or real estate agent can provide helpful advice on which path to take.

What It Takes to Replace

There are a few things to note if the entire septic system needs to be replaced:

  • While an expensive investment, septic systems are known to last (and may have the warranties to prove it).
  • Septic systems may be the only solution for older or rural homes to have functional plumbing.
  • If the seller refuses to cover any part of a failing septic system, it may make sense to move onto a different property.

Preparing for What's Ahead

Buying a home with a septic system is a promise to maintain the system. This may include hiring a professional every three to five years to ensure that the risers are all in good shape and the backwash is flowing properly. If a lot of people are living on the property, the septic system will need to be pumped more frequently. The less water residents use, the longer the septic system will last. If possible, use low-flow faucets, toilets, and showerheads to reduce water usage, and fix leaks as quickly as possible.

There are enough benefits to a septic system that buyers should strongly consider homes that have one. They can even be a point of interest for future buyers, especially as environmental concerns continue to grow.

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