A diagram of a septic tank. Septic tank?? Well, yes. I have been looking at houses for sale since the early 90's and I almost always get "stuck" on the septic issues. LOL. I won't go into the 90's issues. I won't go into why I feel I need to rant about stuff right now (no doubt I am angry and frustrated at myself for not moving forward with my life.)
I will only say I looked at a house, very nice house, up here at a reasonable price in a walkable village. For sale by owner. I asked: "So where is the septic system." Owner: "I don't know. I bought it without asking." Me: jaw drop. Owner: "Well, I think it might be out here, as that's what a neighbor told me." She points to a teeny area between the house and a dirt road. The bathrooms are on the other side of the house. Just to add, she has lived there for 7 years.
Of course I didnt say it, but no way a septic tank and leaching fields can be located in that tiny area. There is a huge back yard. Would this tank not be in the back yard? And why has the owner never gotten the tank pumped out every 3-5 years as one is supposed to? And why did she buy the house without asking.
When I was a kid,I saw a septic system being installed in a house back in the 50's when my folks built a home. So septic tanks and their issues are burned onto my visual brain. The tank was like a large, concrete box. Older septic tanks may be of metal and possibly corroded at this point. Even older houses as on Cape Cod often have simple stone lined well sort of things but there is now a law (in Massachusetts) that they must be upgraded to today's standards when a property is sold. And generally this is the seller's responsibility. When a new tank is installed a huge area is dug up to install this tank along with leaching field areas too.
There is no such law up here as far as I can tell.
The number of homeowners who "dont know" the status or even location of their septic systems is staggering. A house is useless if its septic system has failed or is about to fail.
In regard to my recently viewed house, I can do a lot of investigating to try to find out where the tank is located. I already called the town hall but they do not have a record of it. Now I can call the state government and find out if they can find the record of it. And possibly on and on from there. In NH and Vt it is up to the buyer to do these things and to pay for a septic inspection
To me, it seems borderline crazy to ask a buyer to try to figure out where the septic is in a home where it is not obvious or known. No seller is going to want me to come in and start digging up their yard hoping to find the tank. Nor am I going to want to. Are they just hoping someone will buy the house without asking about the septic???
I feel so tired in this home search. There is so much investigative work I, as homebuyer, need to do. Calling town halls, following up leads, not just about septic systems but other issues as well. Things owners and realtors do not tell you. Like is a shopping mall about to be built next door. That kind of thing. Each home offer takes hours of research on my part before I can even make an offer.
I knew all this as when I searched in the 90's I did the same things. Investigating, going to town halls, not relying on homeowners say so or realtors say so, asking neighbors and look what happened. I never took the leap.