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    • JP08
    • By JP08 19th Apr 17, 12:07 PM
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    JP08
    Buying a House with a Septic Tank
    • #1
    • 19th Apr 17, 12:07 PM
    Buying a House with a Septic Tank 19th Apr 17 at 12:07 PM
    We've just put an offer in on a house that has a septic tank.

    Due the age of the house, the time it has been on the market (first marketed before 2015) and the local geography I suspect that this discharges to a local watercourse.

    Reading the rules around septic tanks, would I be correct in saying that the vendors HAVE to resolve this before sale? Ie, am I reading the general binding rules correctly ?

    https://www.gov.uk/permits-you-need-for-septic-tanks/overview
    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/general-binding-rules-small-sewage-discharge-to-a-surface-water

    Alternatively has anyone, since 2015, sold a place with a septic tank discharging to surface water. And if so, how ?
Page 1
    • Tyler119
    • By Tyler119 19th Apr 17, 12:27 PM
    • 307 Posts
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    Tyler119
    • #2
    • 19th Apr 17, 12:27 PM
    • #2
    • 19th Apr 17, 12:27 PM
    I would say yes, as it states,

    If you have a septic tank that discharges directly to a surface water you will need to replace or upgrade your treatment system by 1 January 2020, or when you sell your property if before this date.

    Your solicitor should spot this and I'm surprised that the vendor has not taken action before selling the property. However on the other side they may have upgraded the septic tank so that it soaks into the ground.

    Just ask the question and then ask for relevant paperwork if they have indeed sorted this prior to selling.
    • JP08
    • By JP08 19th Apr 17, 12:38 PM
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    JP08
    • #3
    • 19th Apr 17, 12:38 PM
    • #3
    • 19th Apr 17, 12:38 PM
    That's how I read it - and the question was raised with the offer. I guess the only reason I suspect that it might not be compliant is because the house was originally marketed before the 2015 regulations. Just rang a few alarm bells.
    • Heather2603
    • By Heather2603 19th Apr 17, 1:09 PM
    • 57 Posts
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    Heather2603
    • #4
    • 19th Apr 17, 1:09 PM
    • #4
    • 19th Apr 17, 1:09 PM
    That's right, we've dealt with a few though where the funds for the work is held by the solicitor paid for by the vendors but not actually carried out until the buyers were in. We would submit invoices to the buyer, they'd send them to the solicitor and solicitor would pay us. One of those jobs where it's actually guaranteed we'll get paid! The work itself doesn't take long, it's the lead time for supply from the manufacturer that is the longest.
    • Hoploz
    • By Hoploz 19th Apr 17, 1:09 PM
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    Hoploz
    • #5
    • 19th Apr 17, 1:09 PM
    • #5
    • 19th Apr 17, 1:09 PM
    Have you asked whether it has it's own drainage field? It may well not discharge to surface water.
    • G_M
    • By G_M 19th Apr 17, 1:17 PM
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    G_M
    • #6
    • 19th Apr 17, 1:17 PM
    • #6
    • 19th Apr 17, 1:17 PM
    .......

    Due the age of the house, the time it has been on the market (first marketed before 2015) and the local geography I suspect that this discharges to a local watercourse.
    Originally posted by JP08
    None of those 3 facts is grounds to reach that conclusion!

    Where does the tank discharge? Have you investigated? Do you know?

    The first thing to do is find out.
    Last edited by G_M; 19-04-2017 at 1:21 PM.
    • JP08
    • By JP08 19th Apr 17, 2:00 PM
    • 777 Posts
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    JP08
    • #7
    • 19th Apr 17, 2:00 PM
    • #7
    • 19th Apr 17, 2:00 PM
    G_M.
    Agreed, but it is grounds to be suspicious. And I have asked along with my offer as I mentioned above (my 2nd comment)

    The installation is old, above a steep slope to the garden that is in the start of a valley that obviously is wet the other side of the boundary wall.
    • Davesnave
    • By Davesnave 19th Apr 17, 2:07 PM
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    Davesnave
    • #8
    • 19th Apr 17, 2:07 PM
    • #8
    • 19th Apr 17, 2:07 PM
    G_M.
    Agreed, but it is grounds to be suspicious. And I have asked along with my offer as I mentioned above (my 2nd comment)

    The installation is old, above a steep slope to the garden that is in the start of a valley that obviously is wet the other side of the boundary wall.
    Originally posted by JP08
    But if it's in the upper part of the valley discharging into the soil, which is wet at the end of the drainage run, that's not discharging directly into a watercourse.

    That's what most septic tank systems currently in operation do.

    Don't quote me on this, but I think if the end of the leach field is more than 7m from a watercourse, it meets current regulations. I know this because one of my neighbours has a non compliant system on my land, which I tolerate, but only because I'm a nice bloke!
    Last edited by Davesnave; 19-04-2017 at 2:11 PM.
    I used to suffer with kleptomania, but now I take something for it.
    • G_M
    • By G_M 19th Apr 17, 3:39 PM
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    G_M
    • #9
    • 19th Apr 17, 3:39 PM
    • #9
    • 19th Apr 17, 3:39 PM
    G_M.
    Agreed, but it is grounds to be suspicious. And I have asked along with my offer as I mentioned above (my 2nd comment)

    The installation is old, above a steep slope to the garden that is in the start of a valley that obviously is wet the other side of the boundary wall.
    Originally posted by JP08
    So it appears to discharge either into the garden (which you say is below the tank), and/or into some part of the valley.

    But not into a watercourse.

    If so there is no problem. But of course as you say you need to check.

    Is there a river/stream at the bottom of the valley? Does the tank discharge directly into it? If not, how far is the tank from the stream (watercourse)?
    • JP08
    • By JP08 20th Apr 17, 8:31 AM
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    JP08
    G_M

    We're talking deep Yorkshire Dales here.

    There is a stream at the bottom of the main valley (quite a big one). Its about 300m away from the house, and about 50m lower according to the OS maps on Bing. The side valley that appears to start at the garden is not marked as a watercourse on OS but is clearly visible as a damp line through the fields on overhead shots on google maps. To me it looks like an intermittent watercouse. It is also dead in line with a stream that goes into a sinkhole about 200m away on the opposite side of the road.

    Isn't limestone geography / geology fun ? I remember doing all this stuff about 35 years ago in school.

    Oh and the whole of the bottom of the main valley is a Site of Special Scientific Interest according to the Gov website, boundary about 200m from the house.

    And no - looking at the lie of the land, I don't think that stream would threaten the house if it overwhelmed its sinkhole in storm conditions - the garden valley is a good 5-10m deep at the house. The Gov flood maps tally with this assessment.

    I'm looking forward to the answer from the estate agent - the (literal) ins and outs of septic tanks is a new world to me and one that is proving quite interesting ... though probably not a great subject for after dinner conversation ...
    • martindow
    • By martindow 20th Apr 17, 10:55 AM
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    martindow
    The installation is old, above a steep slope to the garden that is in the start of a valley that obviously is wet the other side of the boundary wall.
    Originally posted by JP08
    It sounds as if the leach field could be on land that belongs to someone else. This is not uncommon, but you do need to be sure that you have a right to access it in case repairs or replacement of the pipework should be necessary.

    On the other hand, if you are reasonably careful avoiding too much bleach and so on, septic tanks with occasional emptying are much cheaper than paying the water supplier's drainage charge.
    • Davesnave
    • By Davesnave 20th Apr 17, 11:06 AM
    • 21,834 Posts
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    Davesnave
    It sounds as if the leach field could be on land that belongs to someone else. This is not uncommon, but you do need to be sure that you have a right to access it in case repairs or replacement of the pipework should be necessary.

    On the other hand, if you are reasonably careful avoiding too much bleach and so on, septic tanks with occasional emptying are much cheaper than paying the water supplier's drainage charge.
    Originally posted by martindow
    It doesn't sound like the water supplier's service would be an option.

    The permissive right to drain on someone else's land can be acquired after a certain period, which may be 25 years. However I'm not sure if renewal of the leach field system, usually required after an extended period, would count as a new installation. If it did, then it would have to meet newer regulations.

    If the drainage is onto one's own land there's less of a problem. We renewed our leach field a few years ago, saying nothing to anyone about it.

    I can see that it would be good to prove this is a discharge to a watercourse, so the vendor picks up the tab for conversion to a mini treatment plant, but I'll bet if that happens it'll be more costly to maintain than a septic tank.
    Last edited by Davesnave; 20-04-2017 at 5:50 PM. Reason: typo
    I used to suffer with kleptomania, but now I take something for it.
    • JP08
    • By JP08 20th Apr 17, 11:21 AM
    • 777 Posts
    • 836 Thanks
    JP08
    It sounds as if the leach field could be on land that belongs to someone else. This is not uncommon, but you do need to be sure that you have a right to access it in case repairs or replacement of the pipework should be necessary.
    Originally posted by martindow
    Thanks - but I actually think the opposite applies here - the adjacent house's tank is on the land of the house we're looking at - and the layout indicates that, if there is/are leach field(s) and not a direct discharge, it/both is/are probably under the garden.

    As I said earlier, an old installation. With all the legal ramifications that come with that.
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