Many of our rural Northern Nevada neighborhoods offer lot sizes of one acre or more. If you’re considering a home purchase of this type, you’re likely to find these properties served by a private well and septic system rather than municipal water and sewer services. If you’re not familiar with these systems, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Inspection Fees will be higher: Although not required, it’s customary that the septic system be pumped and inspected prior to close of escrow, with total fees ranging $400 – $1,000. The fee for physically locating the septic tank & lids can have a big effect on the overall cost of the inspection/service if unknown. A home with a domestic well typically requires two types of inspections. The first concern is the quality of the water which involves a water sample taken from the home to a laboratory. If there is an existing purification or filtration system, that should be inspected as well. The second type of well inspection is called a Flow Test. This test validates the gallons of water per minute that the well is capable of producing. They’ll also identify the well depth vs the water table and test the related components. The total fees for lab test plus a thorough Flow Test & Inspection will range from $750 – $1,000. That’s right, this is potentially $2,000 in inspection fees and we haven’t looked at the furnace yet. The good news is that all inspection fees are considered negotiable in most transactions and sellers often end up covering at least some of these fees.
You will be responsible for ongoing repair and maintenance: Experts say that a septic system should be pumped annually. In my experience, most septic people get very careful about what they flush and call the tanker out every couple of years or so. Regardless, if some routine maintenance is not performed you risk damaging your “leach/drain field” and that can get very expensive. The cost to replace a domestic well pump and all its’ components can be thousands of dollars. For most folks on a well it’s typically around $200 – $300 annually. Of course, this means that you may go 5 years without a problem, then find yourself replacing a $1,200 pressure tank. Also, there are home warranty programs available that will insure against failure of the well components.
They might decide to “Hook You Up” later: When I say “they” I’m referring to the government. In most if not all cases municipal governments have the authority to require that residential properties connect to municipal services should they come available, at the homeowner’s expense. This issue was a big topic of discussion 10 – 15 years ago and I’m guessing it’s going to come back. Particularly for those living in some neighborhoods in the North Valleys and Spanish Springs.
At this point you might be thinking, “This broker is not fond well and septic systems”. The reality is that I’ve spent a good part of my life living on a well and/or septic, in Northern Nevada and I wouldn’t change a thing. So, if you’re looking for a place in the country, find a Broker that has experience with this property type and I’ll bet that you’ll eventually feel the same way too. Click here for more discussion on recommended inspections.