Inspections Supporting Real Estate Transfers
In most Virginia counties, the septic tank must be pumped out prior to a real estate transaction, or minimally evidence of such pumping within the past 5 years is required.
The requirements for septic system inspections in Virginia real estate transfers vary by contract. A contract may be created from scratch, however, frequently it is generated from a contract template approved by the Virginia Association of Realtors. Even in the latter case, the level of inspection is chosen from a list of various options, so the requirements will vary. The septic inspection requirements are most often found in the Virginia Jurisdictional Addendum portion of the standard sales contract template, where the definition for well water testing is also located. A ‘certified' inspection company is required. Our inspection personnel are certified by the Commonwealth of Virginia's Department of Professional & Occupational Regulation (DPOR).
Timeliness: When should I have the inspection performed?
It is prudent to wait until you are formally under contract to schedule the pumping and inspection of your system, but act aggressively, do not put it off. The standard Real Estate Sales Contract will define the time period in relationship to the closing date in which the task must be performed.
To assure your real estate closing date is not compromised, All Star Septic strongly suggests that septic system inspection, especially on older systems, be performed at the front end of the time window identified in the sales contract. Should repairs be required, this provides sufficient time for contemplation & negotiation between buying & selling parties, as well as time to effect any possibly needed repairs. This includes the permitting and inspection process through the health department, which can take longer than the actual repair itself.
Level of Inspection: What is required?
Again, contracts vary. The standard Virginia Sales Contract will include the option of four levels of assessment of the septic system, in varying degrees of evaluation found typically in the Virginia Jurisdictional Addendum of the agreement. The options range from the lowest level “Walk Over Inspection” to a full system evaluation.
Walk Over inspections could still end up costing you money in the future. These inspections were used almost exclusively in Virginia for many years, however, it is not an especially revealing assessment.
In this case, the inspector is performing a surface evaluation of the system only; it merely detects the most egregious malfunctions of the system. System failure would be indicated by ponding of effluent at the surface, excessive dry spots in the drainfield and/or depressions in the ground indicating adverse settling of the components over the years. These conditions, especially surface manifested effluent, would very likely be readily discernible to the home owner, listing or buying real estate agent and the prospective buyer, anyway. The true internal physical condition of the system remains unknown with a Walk Over.
The Standard Inspection Process
The best manner to inspect the system is All Star's standard methodology which employs the use of the Ridgid SeeSnake® System. This evaluation meets or exceeds the requirements of all four possible inspection levels defined in the Virginia Jurisdictional Addendum. Upon uncovering the septic tank, the fluid levels are assessed to ensure the tank is holding effluent properly. The Septic Tank is pumped, cleaned and inspected. The evaluation ensures free flow of the Sewer Line from the dwelling to the septic tank, and that the Inlet Stub-tee of the Septic Tank is intact and clear.
If a Pump Chamber is present, it is similarly inspected. The pump is engaged, switches tested, high liquid level alarm checked and control panel evaluated.
At this juncture the Ridgid SeeSnake® System is employed; this approach involves invasive real time optical imaging provided to a remote monitor. The device includes a kind of plumbing snake with a camera head attached. The sewer and conveyance lines are accessed & evaluated. The Distribution Box is located with a kind of metal detector, uncovered & inspected. The evaluation assures the integrity of this box; that it is holding effluent, the lid is solid and sealed, no infiltration of damaging roots is present and is still level. Planarity of the device ensures the even distribution of effluent across the drain field.
Next, optical imaging is utilized to inspect each drain field line. The termination points of each line are identified at the surface by ‘flagging' with markers.
This approach assures the condition of each component of the system and the system's overall functionality.
A letter attesting to the condition of the system is then forwarded to you, your closing company or realtor.
Well Water Testing for Real Estate Sales
All Star Septic also provides the three most commonly requested well water tests for Real Estate transfers in Virginia. These tests are for coliform (bacteria), lead and nitrite/nitrate. In the standard Virginia Sales Contract, the tests required are typically defined in the Virginia Jurisdictional Addendum. Almost all transfers require a coliform test, but sometimes lending institutions (Conventional, FHA, VA, etc.) can have their own requirements that would include nitrite/nitrate and lead. Consultation of both your sales contract as well as the lender is recommended to ensure the proper test results are present at closing.
As with septic inspections, be sure to have the testing performed in compliance with the timetable established in the contract, and as soon as contractually feasible to ensure early cognizance of results.
All Star Septic is proud to be an Affiliate Member of
The Greater Piedmont Area Association of Realtors.