The Stormy Issue of Percolation Testing

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Mackintosh REALTORS 82894

This is part II of  major issues that have been uncovered during my marathon transaction " The land mine in the yard" .The Frederick County Association of REALTORS (FCAR) and the local Builders Association (FCBA) have teamed up to form a task force to communicate with the Frederick County Health Department (FCHD) and the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). During the pandemic many of the long time sanitarians at FCHD retired and more stringent restrictions were being put in place for septic repairs and percolation tests. The recent septic repair on my 2021 sale took seven months to complete in comparison to a similar repair on my listing in 2014 that took three weeks start to finish! Perc tests were back logged and many builders and developers were frustrated by the delays and new stringent regulations. As a result the FCAR & FCBA task force has had on going meetings with FCHD & MDE to try and get resolution to the delays and clarification on the new regulations. The local officials indicated many of the delays stem from being under staffed. Many of the septic repair contractors I have spoken with say the additional time added to the process is because of the new field employees going strictly by the book regulations and will not listen to common sense resolutions like the former field employees did.  


The most concerning new regulation imposed by FCHD is perc tests completed on existing building lots prior to 2019 will need to be reviewed and new holes dug. No explanation as to why, or how this date was chosen.
This new regulation has the potential of rendering a previously approved building lot worthless and disenfranchising a property owner who has been paying property taxes on that approved use.
 Needless to say, the FCAR & FCBA task force will continue to March until we have a solution and advocate for personal property rights!
  This is entry #3 into the ActiveRain March 2023 Challenge "March to a Solution" hosted by and Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist
and Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist 

Comments (14)

Sham Reddy CRS
Howard Hanna RE Services, Dayton, OH - Dayton, OH

Great blog Buzz!!! Its down right scary dealing with government where commonsense is main factor missing!!!

Mar 26, 2023 03:54 AM
Buzz Mackintosh

Sham Reddy CRS  too many of the newbies are book smart and have no real world experience, therefore common sense doesn't exist.

Mar 26, 2023 05:03 PM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Buzz - when back up issues seem to clog septic system discussions, finding a clear solution can help create better flow in a real estate transaction.

My only experience in percolation testing is my search for a better brew.  

Mar 26, 2023 04:11 AM
Buzz Mackintosh

Michael Jacobs It is hard to get a strait answer from a government agency, it maybe time to call Roto Rooter


Mar 26, 2023 05:12 PM
Brian England
Arizona Focus Realty - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

Going by the book is a good thing, although most of what is written in the books these days are not necessary or doesn't really make practical sense, haha.

Mar 26, 2023 05:18 AM
Buzz Mackintosh

So true Brian England ,the new hires are book smart and have no real world experience and will not listen to a common sense solution.

Mar 26, 2023 05:17 PM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Buzz,

There is no accounting for the "no-common sense" that is so prevalent in dealing with our government regulations and line of thinking. Great entry  into the March challenge.

Mar 26, 2023 05:33 AM
Buzz Mackintosh

Dorie Dillard Austin TX  the unintended consequences of no common sense will be at the peril of many homeowners and cost them thousands of $$ or force them into foreclosure!

Mar 26, 2023 05:20 PM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Good morning, Buzz... scary words "I'm here from the government and I'm here to help you." Does government interference ever make anything easier or simpler? 

Mar 26, 2023 05:51 AM
Buzz Mackintosh

Nina Hollander, Broker Government red tape just throws cold water on the process!!

Mar 26, 2023 05:22 PM
Jeffrey DiMuria 321.223.6253 Waves Realty
Waves Realty - Melbourne, FL
Florida Space Coast Homes

So they are making you re-do perc tests because they might have different soil a few years later? Did the standards change? Hmmmmm. We pay around $150-200 for a perc test, so is this simply a money maker?

Mar 26, 2023 06:00 AM
Buzz Mackintosh

Jeffrey DiMuria 321.223.6253 Waves Realty  its the Governments way of slowing down urban sprawl. They want us to go back to Medieval times where everyone lives within their walls!

Mar 26, 2023 05:26 PM
Bill Salvatore - East Valley
Arizona Elite Properties - Chandler, AZ
Realtor - 602-999-0952 / em:


This is an excellent post with great information. Thanks for sharing it. 


Have a super fantastic week! Bill Salvatore with AEP


Mar 26, 2023 06:46 AM
Ed Silva
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

Like building codes, those old perc tests may be appropriate going forward, but to find issues over older regulations does not seem fair.

Mar 26, 2023 06:58 AM
Buzz Mackintosh

Ed Silva it disenfranchises a property owner potentially taking away an approved use if the lot won't perc under the new stringent regulations.

Mar 26, 2023 05:30 PM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Buzz Mackintosh - the new regulations haven't even been tested and they are going to dig up holes in previously approved building lots prior to 2019 now considered worthless??? Does that mean it deprives homeowners and anyone else the right to hire their own attorneys as they debunk their own previously written rules and regulations? What is their goal, to back off the newly created task force from the FCBA?

So now their problems being understaffed becomes your problem? Increasing the amount of time it once took for septic repairs from three weeks to several months is absurd! Their solution isn't really a solution afterall but it does reveal a lot about pure beauracy without a sound stragetic plan or any compensation to lot owners. Even worse leaving everyone else hanging on a cliff by their fingernails without any explanation as to why or how this date has been set?

I expect a lot of TBC....

Thank you for fully completing three entries for the March to a Solution|ActiveRain March 2023 Challenge. This one was a rude awakening and a good reason to get involved with the Associations to protect people's property rights and taxes. 

Mar 26, 2023 07:09 AM
Buzz Mackintosh

Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP  I believe there will be attorneys involved in the near future otherwise many property owners will be harmed. 

Mar 26, 2023 05:34 PM
Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Estate Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate

We had similar issues with backlogs getting permits due to the C-19 shutdown and restrictions.  The same issues apply to the court system and the backlog still exists today. Budget cuts, retirements, work furloughs, etc.  What a mess. 

Thank goodness there are advocates working together to resolve the issue and preserve homeowner rights.

Thank you for your third entry and full participation in the March to a Solution challenge. 


Mar 26, 2023 08:10 AM
Buzz Mackintosh

 Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist paying people not to work during Covid was not a smart move by the Government !! We are feeling the consequences today !

Mar 26, 2023 05:37 PM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Realtor - Retired

During my 40 years as a Realtor, I mostly sold non-rural properties.  I do remember having a few sales that required percolation tests.  Fortunately, there were no issues.

Mar 26, 2023 01:26 PM
Buzz Mackintosh

Myrl Jeffcoat selling land is a different animal and can be tricky at times.

Mar 26, 2023 05:39 PM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Realtor - Retired

CONGRATULATIONS Buzz, on having this blog FEATURED in the Old Farts Club group!  

Mar 26, 2023 01:46 PM
Buzz Mackintosh

Myrl Jeffcoat this Old Timer thanks you for the feature!

Mar 26, 2023 05:40 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Buzz- I have to agree with Dorie Dillard Austin TX Where is the common sense in the people who are supposed to be using it?!  Thank goodness for the hard working advocates such as yourself. 

Mar 26, 2023 06:05 PM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Thank you very much, Buzz, for sharing your efforts to improve the local regulations and service.

Mar 29, 2023 10:44 AM