Selling a house with a septic tank or other off-mains drainage system
If you have a house with a cesspit, septic tank or sewage treatment plant you may be wondering if it’s harder to sell than if you’re on mains drainage. Or alternatively, you might be looking to buy a house with a septic tank or other off-mains solution and worried about how easy it will be to resell it.
So is it hard to sell a house with a septic tank? Selling a house with a septic tank isn’t really any more difficult than selling a house on mains drainage so long as the tank and drainage field work properly and are compliant with the regulations. There are some people who prefer to have main drains who will avoid buying a house with a septic tank.
It’s probably worthwhile to first explain the three types of home sewage systems or off-mains drainage. Not everyone knows the difference between each one and how they work. But then I split the article between looking at each type of off-main sewage system. I look at how easy it is to sell a house with each type.
Types of home sewage systems or off-mains drainage solutions
- Cesspit: Tank has no outflow. Collects effluent and usually requires 4-6 week emptying.
- Septic Tank: Tank with two chambers. The second chamber passes liquid effluent into a drainage field. Solids are usually emptied yearly.
- Sewage Treatment Plant: Tank that treats the effluent and discharges clean water.
Should you buy a house with a cesspit?
It’s not recommended to buy a house with a cesspit (or cesspool). This is due to the high cost of emptying this type of off-mains drainage.
Due to the fact that a cesspit doesn’t have an outflow to the garden, which means it’s simply a collecting tank and does not discharge any effluent, it needs emptying every 4-6 weeks.
If the house you’re considering has a cesspit, enquire into the reasons why it has this type of off-mains drainage rather than a septic tank. Often times the only reason the house has a cesspit is because a septic tank or sewage treatment plant couldn’t be installed for some reason.
Be aware that the cesspit may be leaking or might have been deliberately damaged. People do this to reduce the number of times it needs emptying.
If you buy a house with a cesspit you will be responsible for making sure it complies with the regulations. If the cesspit or cesspool isn’t compliant you may find yourself facing a fine.
Also be aware that cesspits are illegal in Scotland.
Is it hard to sell a house with a cesspit or cesspool?
On the recommendation that it’s not a good idea to buy a house with a cesspit, it won’t be easy to sell a house with one. You will probably be better to replace your cesspit with a septic tank or sewage treatment plant first.
How often do cesspits need to be emptied?
As a cesspit is basically an underground watertight tank it simply collects the effluent from the house’s sewage drains.
To avoid an overflow of a cesspit, and depending on the size of the tank and the number of family members, it will need to be emptied every 4-6 weeks. This would be at a cost of around £600 per empty or an annual cost of circa £5,500.
On the assumption an average person produces around 150 litres of effluent per day. This would mean that a cesspit tank that holds 18,000 litres would take 120 days to fill if only one person lived in the house.
But for a family of four people, they would produce 600 litres per day. This would fill this same tank in just 30 days.
How long will a cesspit last before needing to be replaced?
A cesspit system is likely to last for over 40 years depending on the make and manufacturer.
But if your house has a cesspit, you should consider replacing it. Consider replacing it with a septic tank or better still a sewage treatment plant instead. A sewage treatment plant will make it easier to sell your house.
What will it cost to replace my cesspit with a septic tank or sewage treatment plant?
The cost to install a septic tank and associated drainage field will cost somewhere between £8,000-20,000. On top of this cost will be the removal and disposal of your old cesspit tank.
The cost of installing a septic tank will depend on the size of tank fitted, the make of tank chosen and how large the drainage field needs to be for the type of ground at your property.
But be aware that your local planning department may insist you install a sewage treatment plant instead of a septic tank.
The cost to install a sewage treatment plant is anywhere between £5,000 to £15,000. The cost of install depends on the size and make of treatment plant you buy.
Should I buy a house with a septic tank?
It’s okay to buy a house with a septic tank, but make sure that it works as it should and the drainage field complies with General Binding Rules.
These rules changed on 1 January 2020 and are more rigid than before. So before you buy a house with a septic tank it’s advisable to have a septic tank survey done first.
Be aware that over time the drainage field for a septic tank may get blocked and stop working as it should. Also, you need to make sure the septic tank effluent outflow is not going into a soakaway. Septic tanks must not outflow into soakaways.
Is it hard to sell a house with a septic tank?
As already explained, it shouldn’t be too difficult to sell a house with a septic tank. But you need to make sure it will pass a septic tank survey.
Buyers are recommended to carry out a survey on septic tanks before they buy. You are therefore better to be ahead of the game. Make sure the tank is working as it should be. Plus that your drainage field is working properly too.
How often do septic tanks need to be emptied?
If a septic tank is working as it should it generally only needs to be emptied once per year. How often it’s emptied will depend on the size of the solids chamber and the size of the household.
But be aware that if a septic tank isn’t emptied on a regular basis, the solids chamber can overflow into the second chamber. This can lead to blockages and problems with the drainage field.
Do I need to pump my septic tank before I sell my house?
There’s no need to pump your septic tank out before you sell your house. But if the solids chamber is full and needs pumping out you should do it.
Should I buy a house with a sewage treatment plant?
It’s okay to buy a house with a sewage treatment system as these produce clean non-polluting effluent.
But before you buy a house with a sewage treatment plant, make sure to have the system surveyed. This will make sure it’s working properly and the effluent outflow is clean.
A sewage treatment plant must discharged the effluent to a high standard of cleanliness. These standards are clearly set and all sewage treatment tanks must adhere to them.
In addition to having your tank emptied each year, you have to also have your tank serviced. Also the effluent quality will need to be checked too. The annual running costs of a sewage treatment plant is around £200.
What is the difference between a septic tank and a sewage treatment plant?
The main difference between a septic tank and a sewage treatment plant is a septic tank discharges polluting effluent vs a sewage treatment plant that produces non-polluting effluent.
The outflow from a sewage treatment plant can be discharged directly into a stream or watercourse, but from a septic tank to a drainage field.
A septic tank has two chambers inside, one for the solids to collect to be emptied and a second chamber to collect and discharge the fluid effluent. Whereas a sewage treatment generally plant has three chambers.
The first chamber is to collect the effluent discharge from the house. The second chamber is the treatment chamber, with the third chamber where the water effluent collects before being discharged.
The other difference is that a sewage treatment plant has mechanical workings inside and needs an electric supply to work. Whereas a septic tank does not require any electrical supply.
I hope this article has helped about is it hard to sell a house with a septic tank
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