Buying a house that is on a two bedroom septic system

mgabrielApril 14, 2009

Would you consider purchasing a home that is three bedrooms but is on a two bedroom septic system? We are considering building a house on a two bedroom septic system but I'm wondering about resell value down the road. We plan to install energy efficient appliances (dual flushed toilets, etc) and have the plumbing fixed where the gray water can be used for watering irrigation once it's legal in TN, which I'm told could be in the near future.

Thanks in advance for your advice.


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I wouldn't, but then I've always lived where there was city water and sewage.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 8:21PM
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I can't believe that the local government would allow you to build a home that has 3 bedrooms and then only put in a 2 bedroom septic system. The difference in $ should be nominal for a bit larger septic system.
I sure wouldn't buy it!
Kathy G in MI

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 11:27PM
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Nope - but code where I live precludes that situation from happening. I've lived with septic much of my life and I'm really not into messing with my sewage treatment standards - especially when having a septic system is usually associated with having a private well.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 11:33PM
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Why not put in a legal 3BR septic system?

Our home has 3BR and an office, and we put in a 4BR septic system just to be safe.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 7:37AM
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Code wouldn't allow 3 bedrooms here either. I can't imagine anywhere that would? Also, I'm wondering why you would WANT to build more bedrooms than the septic is designed to handle?? It's not going to help with resale & may actually prevent you from selling in the future at all without very expensive system upgrades.

I'll be the first to admit that some code requirements can leave a person scratching their head in dismay; but a septic load restriction does not fall in that category.


    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 7:51AM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

Absolutely not. Septic problems never happen at a covenient time and just the thought of the cost of digging one up and replacing it with a larger one would make me not even consider a house, no matter how nice it appears.

Of course, code in my area would never allow this. They even updated the codes to require larger systems. Not a bad idea, in fact, one of the few things they have done right.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 9:32AM
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The issue is, when the original septic system was built they allowed blasting, which they no longer allow. Being the land is in a rocky area the only way to add to the existing leach field is at the back of the property (4 acres away), which is expensive. In my area, codes base a bedroom as using 150 gallons of water a day. Therefore a two bedroom house uses roughly 300 gallons of water a day, which is 9000 gallons a month. My family of four has never used 9000 gallons of water a month. This property has some sentimental value to me and we continue going back and forth whether we should build or not. I have spoken with the director of Environment and he agrees that some of the codes are dated and should be revisited.

The septic system was installed in the early 1980Âs.
* At that time the average toilet used 5-7 gallons per flush. The Dual toilet averages out to around 1.3. So it is using about 75% less water.
*A Washing Machine installed in the 80Âs used between 48 Â55 gallons per load. Today a high Energy Washer uses 15 gallons of water. That is 70% less water.
* Dishwasher installed in 80Âs used about 14 Gallons per load. Today a Energy star dishwasher uses about 4 gallons. That is about 70% less water.

I appreciate your advice...

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 11:37AM
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Although your particular family may use water conservatively, that can't be assumed for all. Consequently, IF even allowed, this would seriously and adversely affect your resale value.
Realize as well that some families have two children using a bedroom. In addition, there are times when guests visit, and parties with many guests put an extra load on the system.

Very few if any would be intertested in buying a home with a system that is not in line with current code...outdated or not...

There are some alternative systems that may be able to be placed closer to your home that won't require blasting, such as a mound system. It may be worth your while to investigate such.

Here is a link that might be useful: Components of Alternative Septic Systems for Difficult Sites

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 12:00PM
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Perhap's the best question to ask is how difficult is it to sell a 2800 SF home that only has two bedrooms? I know it has a lot to do with location but does anyone have any experience selling a two bedroom "custom" home? If we build, we don't plan to move but we never know what the future holds.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 12:20PM
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What are your chances for getting the system re-classified for a 3 bedroom house?

Do you have the specs on the septic and know the size it is? Field and tanks. Then how does this compared to what is required today in sizes? Is it close since it sounds like it should be sized properly for a 3 bedroom.

Why not try to get it approved for a 3bedroom before you do anything.

Re-sale with just 2 bedrooms and 2800 sq ft I think would be hard.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 2:25PM
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Being on rock and having to blast to enlarge the tank/field makes this a whole new ball of wax.
My DD has a place in Door County, WI and they have a holding tank, no field is involved. There is a warning light in the bathroom to let you know when the tank reaches a certain amount, then you get it pumped. Blasting there to enlarge the tank would have been prohibited when they bought 3 years ago. Too many homes nearby now.
You could do an engineered field, that is the "mound" you see in some areas, engineered fields can be very expensive.
Kathy G in MI

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 5:32PM
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