Troubleshooting Your Septic System

What To Do If The Home You Are Buying Fails The Title Five Septic Tank Test

If you are buying a home with a septic tank, the owner is obligated to have a Title Five inspection. This ensures that the septic tank is working and not a threat to public health. However, if the septic tank fails the test, you may be wondering what you should do.

Here is a look at some of your options:

1. Have the owners fix the septic tank as a condition of the sale.

When you are buying a home, you can put conditions on the sale. In most cases, these are repairs, and the sale is not finalized until the original home owner takes care of them. The upside of having the owner take care of the septic tank repairs is that you don't have to do it yourself, but it can push back the sale or convince the owner to go with a different buyer who's willing to do the repairs.

2. Agree to take the home as-is and handle the repairs on your own.

If a home doesn't pass a Title Five inspection, it is not illegal to sell it. However, you may be required to make repairs before you are allowed to use the septic system in the home -- talk with your real estate agent or public health officials to learn the exact rules in your area.

If the home has failed the Title Five inspection, you can agree to buy it as-is, and in most cases, you can negotiate for a lower price. However, you have to worry about getting quotes and possibly rolling the cost of septic repairs into the mortgage.

3. Consider a renovation loan.

Replacing a septic tank can be expensive, but if you don't have the cash to pay for it, you can often cover it with part of your mortgage. To do so, you will need to get a few quotes from a few different septic tank companies, and you will need to bring those quotes to the bank.

If you are getting a traditional mortgage, the bank may require you to show proof that you can cover the cost of repairing or replacing the septic tank, and they may require you to put those funds in escrow until the sale is complete.

However, you can also skip that step and apply for a renovation loan instead. If you have to renovate the entire home, you should just get a renovation or construction loan instead of a mortgage, but if you only need to renovate the septic tank, you can just tack a small renovation loan onto your mortgage if your lender approves that.

4. Explore alternatives to traditional septic tanks.

Septic tanks can be a threat to public health for a number of reasons. For example, if your septic tank is too close to a public waterway, the waste from your septic tank may pollute the water. Keep in mind that after waste leaves the septic tank, it spends some time in the soil completing the purification process. If it reaches a public waterway or the water table before it's fully purified, that can be a public health risk.

However, you can replace your traditional septic tank with an alternative model. In particular, there are mini sewage treatment plants that you can install at your home. These require more maintenance than traditional septic tanks, but they clean the wastewater completely. As a result, they only release clear effluent that can be safely introduced into the waterways or water table. Depending on why the existing septic tank failed the Title Five inspection, this may be an option to consider.

To get more advice on what to do if the home you want to buy fails the Section Five septic tank test, contact a septic tank specialist from a company like John C Parmenter Inc.