wetlands permit for septic system replacement

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
lmea
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2015 8:06 pm

wetlands permit for septic system replacement

Post by lmea » Sun Jun 17, 2018 8:16 am

Hi,

I want to buy a 3Be/2Ba house, it was built in 1940 and it has two septic systems: one has a custom-built tank of 300 gallons in the front yard and one has a custom-built tank of 350 gallons in the back yard (so in total the house has 650 gallons). The second floor bathroom and the washer are connected the front yard tank while the kitchen appliances and first floor bathroom are connected to the back yard tank.

The sellers, who owned the house since 1993, said that the house had CO approval for the 3 bedroom from the 1960s, so the septic system should be sufficient for 3be/2ba house. In the current town code, a 3Be/2Ba house on septic system is required to have a 1000 gallon septic tank.

Since 1993, the sellers pumped the tanks every two years and they had records that show that the septic company always charged them for from 1000gallons-1500 gallons from these two tanks. So, they believed that the two tanks have at least 1000 gallons. I hired a contractor who inspected and measured the two tanks, they said that the capacity is 650 gallons in total. The sellers never knew the tank actual dimensions and they were surprised when we found out the tanks are much smaller than what they reported.

If I buy this house, I may need to install a new septic system to replace the back yard one: with a new tank of 1000 gallons and a new field since the existing field may not work with the 1000 gallon tank. This gives the total of 1300 gallons.

The house is next to a stagnant stream. According to town code, I need to apply for a wetlands permit. Two of the required items are: (1) sending certified mails to eight neighbors to notify them on this new installation, (2) notifying local newspaper and print the ad that shows that the newspaper does publish this installation.

I am very new to this thing.

Did you work with wetlands permit earlier, what do I need to be aware of? Are there any chances that the neighbors may say no and I can not update the back yard septic system? Are there any chances that the town may say no to my permit?

Thank you very much for your help.

Mike Scott
Posts: 925
Joined: Fri Jul 19, 2013 2:45 pm

Re: wetlands permit for septic system replacement

Post by Mike Scott » Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:27 am

How badly do you want this specific house? The permits could be a major hurdle and it is pretty likely that all permits and construction would have to be completed before finalizing the purchase. You should talk to your real estate agent, inspector and code/permit agents before making this decision.

jebmke
Posts: 8273
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 2:44 pm

Re: wetlands permit for septic system replacement

Post by jebmke » Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:53 am

Mike Scott wrote:
Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:27 am
How badly do you want this specific house? The permits could be a major hurdle and it is pretty likely that all permits and construction would have to be completed before finalizing the purchase. You should talk to your real estate agent, inspector and code/permit agents before making this decision.
I bought a house in the designated "Critical Area" along a tributary to the Chesapeake. We intended to remove 50-60 trees that really didn't belong on the property (overgrown and not native) and had concerns that the shed on the property might have to be replaced. These are tricky moves in the Critical Area. The county has to authorize the removal of trees -- even dead ones and often there is a remediation required (planting new trees). Replacing a shed is also problematical if it is within 100 feet of mean high water. Normally they would not allow replacement.

I made sure we got the county permits prior closing and the permits were a condition of the purchase agreement. I have seen the results of jumping the gun. One homeowner in the general area removed trees without a permit and they made him plant 10:1 replacements.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

User avatar
TomatoTomahto
Posts: 7533
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:48 pm

Re: wetlands permit for septic system replacement

Post by TomatoTomahto » Sun Jun 17, 2018 10:36 am

Our experience in Massachusetts,

The house failed Title V (I guess septic regs), and the previous owner entered into a contract with the septic company and put another $x in escrow.

They got the permits, and surprise!, the town insisted on a 7-bedroom septic. There are 4 legitimate bedrooms in our house, one could argue that there could be a 5th, but we have no idea where we'd put bedrooms 6 and 7. Anyway, we now have enough septic to service a small hotel.

The grading was done well, I assume that the engineering was well done (the town engineers were on top of things, perhaps to a fault), but the grass replacement has been a PITA. Any promises that they'll make it "just as they found it," should be thrown in the pile with the promise that they'll respect you in the morning. While it is good that the seller did the paying, we didn't get to pick the contract terms, and I personally would have held back final payment for longer (i.e., it was due when "raked and seeded," not when grass had grown). The contract also didn't specify what constitutes suitable loam, rather than rocky dirt.

We are pleased that we bought the house, and feel that other potential purchasers were scared away by the Title V failure. That's good for us, and save us (we think) a sizable percentage on the purchase price. On the other hand, it's not a walk in the park. Good luck.

CurlyDave
Posts: 685
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2016 11:37 am

Re: wetlands permit for septic system replacement

Post by CurlyDave » Sun Jun 17, 2018 11:17 am

lmea wrote:
Sun Jun 17, 2018 8:16 am
... According to town code, I need to apply for a wetlands permit. Two of the required items are: (1) sending certified mails to eight neighbors to notify them on this new installation, (2) notifying local newspaper and print the ad that shows that the newspaper does publish this installation...

Did you work with wetlands permit earlier, what do I need to be aware of? Are there any chances that the neighbors may say no and I can not update the back yard septic system? Are there any chances that the town may say no to my permit?
Anything involving wetlands may turn into a nightmare.

But, why do you want to upgrade the septic system? If the current one is working OK, I just don't see the need. The only real reason would be if you have more people who will live in the house than previous owners.

A larger tank will produce cleaner effluent than a small one, and should not require a new drain field, if the drain field is good to start with. If the existing field is not OK, then you will need a new one.

Anything at all can de-rail a permit. And the costs start to mount right after that.

If you are not familiar with septic systems, I would pass on this house and look for one not in a wetland area.

lawlopez
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2015 6:52 am

Re: wetlands permit for septic system replacement

Post by lawlopez » Sun Jun 17, 2018 11:25 am

We did this.
We didn't have any problems.
We went to the planning board before we bought the land,
and whenever we had a question.

It was scary at the start but it wasn't really bad at all.
Going to visit the neighbors and getting their permission
will introduce you to them and will have many benefits
later on.

You will not be an outsider after you do all this work.

jebmke
Posts: 8273
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 2:44 pm

Re: wetlands permit for septic system replacement

Post by jebmke » Sun Jun 17, 2018 11:54 am

CurlyDave wrote:
Sun Jun 17, 2018 11:17 am
If you are not familiar with septic systems, I would pass on this house and look for one not in a wetland area.
I would expand this to also state that it is good to get an understanding of the local and state regulations for the specific property in mind before signing a contract. Do not rely on statements from real estate brokers. Often they don't know but even if they do, their interests are not your interests in this regard. Normally, a good RE attorney practicing in the area will know. We engaged one when we started looking at waterfront properties. It was a good resource on regulations, flood zoning etc. Might have to spend a few bucks up front but it is worth it in my opinion.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

lmea
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2015 8:06 pm

Re: wetlands permit for septic system replacement

Post by lmea » Sun Jun 17, 2018 4:42 pm

Thank you so much for your reply.

I have studied the permits needed to install a new septic system in my area. There are two permits required for houses next to streams. The first one is with the county Health Department which maintains records of all septic systems in the county - I think all houses with septic systems need to register with county Health Department. The second one is with the Town Building & Construction Department - this is called the wetlands permit and is only needed for houses next to wetlands.

In the Town Building & Construction Department record, I found a wetlands permit in 2011 when the current owner replaced the old drain field of the front yard septic system. I found that they had to mail 8 neighbors to notify that work and the cost of drain field replacement was 5200$.

My realtor recommended me to talk to the septic inspector, who was recommended to me by the realtor, and asked the inspector to check the back yard to see if a larger septic system can be installed there. This inspector can install a new septic system and he gave me the estimate of 9000$ for new septic tank of 1000 gallons and new drain field for the back yard septic system. The realtor told me that that the septic person would apply for the permit with the county Health Department on my behalf when we decide to do the work. But I do not know who would do the wetlands permit.

Are there any chance that the neighbors say no on the wetlands permit? In which conditions the county Health Department will say no on the permit?

Thank you.

jebmke
Posts: 8273
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 2:44 pm

Re: wetlands permit for septic system replacement

Post by jebmke » Sun Jun 17, 2018 4:53 pm

This is likely a very local issue and I would be surprised if anyone can give you definitive input on this. Whether the neighbors have any kind of objection rights would be in the local ordinances I would think.

In my area, contractors (on any type of activity) are responsible for pulling permits. I always make sure bids on projects include language that states that they are responsible for obtaining the permits. Typically, the cost of the permit is broken out in the pricing and they provide the final permits and any inspection certificates as they become available.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

mouses
Posts: 3621
Joined: Sat Oct 24, 2015 12:24 am

Re: wetlands permit for septic system replacement

Post by mouses » Sun Jun 17, 2018 5:28 pm

With my system, it's the engineer who got the permits.

Why do you think you need a larger system?

donall
Posts: 791
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:45 am

Re: wetlands permit for septic system replacement

Post by donall » Mon Jun 18, 2018 3:49 pm

A relative’s house needed a septic field just as they had to sell their house. The permit took much longer than anticipated.

Post Reply