As a Real Estate Agent, we are constantly learning and then sharing our knowledge with our clients. We must even expand our knowledge into some related industries that are not comfortable to discuss with a client, such as septic systems and their functions. The real estate industry isn’t just cars and contracts; it includes other really interesting stuff as well.
SEPTIC DESIGN AND INSTALLATION. The process starts off with unimproved land. A property owner or buyer must find out where on their site they should install the system and what type of system will be required by State regulations. There are various types of system options to select from. The latest technology includes systems that are considered mini sewage processing plants. Those manufactures claim that the effluent is nearly potable by the time it is pumped to the drain field. I am not convinced to that level but my opinion is based on the “ick factor” not science.
The system selection process includes hiring a licensed on-site designer who will complete a site and soil analysis and submit a design to the County for their approval and permit. The permits have a validity period of four years and the cost is around $1,250, but add $500 if a backhoe is needed for the holes. The two most commonly used designers are Jack Cory 360-378-4900 and Rick Petro 360-376-2762. A full list of approved designers is available via the link shown below.
If the parcel is under a Purchase Agreement, the design and permit process is typically done by the buyer as part of the Feasibility Contingency, which is processed prior to closing.
Another aspect of the Feasibility Study is to confirm that the property is not located in an archeological sensitive area such as Indian Midden or near a cemetery. If the property does contain sensitive materials, you need to know where they are located. To confirm this information you need to contact Nadine Cook at San Juan County at 360-370-7585. Being located in an archeological sensitive area will add thousands to the cost of installing a septic system as reports must be filed and an archeologist must be present during installation.
All new systems are required to have a reserve drain field area in the event the first drain field fails. This can be difficult on smaller lots that have other restrictions such as being on the shoreline. Further, some lots are unbuildable due to inability to install a septic system; they become buffer or recreation lots. Their value is typically 50% of market.
The system is installed by an excavation firm licensed for installation. The service provider should be screened based on the type of system to be installed. Asking your designer for a reference is a good plan. The cost to install a new system will vary based on the type, size, and conditions of the site; the range is $15,000-$40,000, with the typical being $22,000-$25,000. It is prudent to photograph the site during the installation process so that you have documentation on the component locations; this makes servicing in the future easier. A list of installers is available via the County website.
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