What You Need To Know About Homes With Septic Tanks

If you’re a fan of those TV shows like Location, Location, Location – where property experts try to find members of the public somewhere to live, usually based on a list of ‘essential’ criteria longer than the average shopping list – you’ll be well aware that the perfect home doesn’t actually exist. But what if you find what looks like your dream home, with everything on your own personal tick list, but instead of a standard drainage system you’re going to have to use a septic tank? Would or should that be enough to make you turn your back and start hunting again?

Or look at it the other way: you need to sell your current home, whether it’s for work or family reasons, but no one is interested in buying it because it comes complete with a septic tank. Are you going to be stuck there for life or is there a way out?

There’s no doubt that septic tanks come with a whole set of issues you don’t get when you’re on the mains, so this month we’re going to be examining what you need to consider when you buy or sell a home with a septic tank.

Buying a Home With a Septic Tank

If you’re considering buying a house with a septic tank, it’s vital that you do more research than you normally would, because that tank will mean extra costs, more responsibilities, more potential problems and almost certainly some occasional bad smells to boot.

Getting a survey done is an essential part of any house purchase, but when it comes to septic tanks, it’s even more important. Legislation is constantly shifting and you need to be confident that the existing tank not only meets current legislation, but is likely to be future proof as far as can be reasonably surmised. For example, from 1 January 2020 in England, it became illegal to discharge effluent directly into a watercourse from a septic tank; any that do must be upgraded or replaced.

In this respect, then, before committing yourself to a purchase, it’s worth getting an extra survey carried out by a qualified professional who is not only going to be fully abreast of current legislation surrounding septic tanks, but also in touch with likely future developments. A survey like this should also be able to tell you how old the tank is and how many years of service it should have in it – having a new tank installed is going to cost several thousand pounds, so before making an offer you want to know whether that’s likely to be an expense for the near or more distant future.

Selling a Home With a Septic Tank

If you’re in the opposite situation, i.e. you’re selling a house with a septic tank, then before you even put it on the market, you need to make sure that your maintenance schedule is up to date – there’s nothing more likely to discourage a potential buyer than the unmistakable smell of a full or leaking tank. You’ll also need to ensure that your tank meets that current legislation we were talking about; trying to get a buyer to take on a working septic tank is one thing, trying to sell one when it may be in need of full replacement may require a whole new set of selling skills (not to mention a significant knock down on the price).

Having said all that, there is some leeway if a tank and its drainage field met existing standards at the time of installation, but many homeowners are still unsure whether they are covered or not. It’s always best to get advice from experts to make sure you’re in line with the law regarding septic tanks, because fines for causing pollution with an illegal discharge can be pretty hefty.

In conclusion, owning a home with a septic tank is never going to be straightforward, but needn’t be something to be scared of. You always need to tread carefully if you’re considering buying a house that uses one, and if you decide to take that step, once you’re in you need to look after it. Done properly, that should involve nothing more than regular emptying from licensed professionals. 

For the best advice on septic tanks of all kinds, whether you’re looking to sell or buy a house with one, you can’t do better than ask the experts at AA Turner Tankers. They offer comprehensive maintenance and repair services such as septic tank emptying, so that you can make sure you stay on top of any potential issues.