Septic and Well Inspections and Certifications
Many horse properties listed for sale will have both a well and septic system. As a Seller, you should be prepared for the fact that certifications for each are often requested. As a Buyer, you should give consideration to requesting these certifications. It is also important to request licensed septic or well contractors to do the certification, not Uncle Joe who used to run a backhoe . He won’t be able to generate the type of report needed to close -especially on an FHA or VA loan.
A well will have three key items that need to be addressed during your inspection and certification: the well system, water quantity (flow test) and water quality (bacteria test). The well contractor will check the components of the well including the pressure tanks and holding tanks, if any. If the well is operating correctly, the next step will be the flow test to determine the quantity of water that the well is pumping. The water quality test can include numerous items; commonly tested are E. Coli, Coliform and Nitrates.
So long as the well system performs, the flow rate meets the underwriting guidelines for your loan and the water is found to be potable you will receive certification and clearance. More importantly, you will have confirmed that an adequate water supply exists for your family and your horses. Quick note on holding tanks, many high fire areas are required to have holding tanks on site, contact the local fire department to see what’s required in your area.
A septic system is typically comprised of a septic tank and leach lines. These systems are designed to take the wastewater from the house (sinks, showers, toilets, washing machines, etc.). During a septic inspection the contractor will certify that both the tank and the leach field are operating as they should be. Septic tanks can be made from various materials such as concrete, fiberglass and steel. Most tanks have two compartments, yet some older tanks may only have one. Tanks should be pumped every 3 to 5 years. While solids sit at the bottom to form sludge another layer forms above from grease and oil and this layer is referred to as scum. Wastewater exits the septic tank into the leach field which is a system of perforated pipes in gravel trenches. I won’t go into the details regarding how the water percolates and breaks down to remove harmful bacteria but that’s basically what the leach field does.
Your inspection will also include pumping the tank to remove any solids. Should any repairs be needed, a quote will be supplied by the contractor. Once the tank is repaired by the contractor a certification is given unless, of course, no repairs were needed and the system functioned as it should.
Keep in mind that for some Short Sale properties and REO (bank owned) properties, no power may be available for your inspections. Fear not! Many will allow for these contractors to bring a generator so that they can get power to the well. If there’s no power and you need to use a generator, be sure to get the well certified prior to bringing the septic contractor out! He’ll need water to test the leach fields for percolation. A note for Sellers- your Realtor can get quotes for you regarding costs for certification and pumping on your septic system along with pricing for the flow test and bacteria test on your well. It’s always good to know these costs ahead of time!