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Use Permits and Inspections

Updated: May 11, 2020

Are you selling your home? If you are selling a home that has a septic system, then there are a couple of things that you should know!

Since 2011, the county requires that you obtain a Use Permit for any home being sold that has a septic system. A Use Permit may also be required if you are adding 1 or more bedrooms, or if you are changing the use of the property. A Use Permit is needed even if the home is sold “As Is”.

What is a Use Permit and why is it needed?:

A Use Permit is needed at closing to show the buyer (and the mortgage company) that all aspects of the septic system are up to county code and functioning properly. This is to protect the buyer so that they don’t unknowingly end up purchasing a home with a failing septic system.

How do you get a Use Permit?:

In order to obtain a Use Permit, you will need to have the septic tank(s) pumped within 12 months prior to closing, and have a Certified Use Inspection done of the system. If any parts of the system don’t meet county code, they will need to be brought up to code.

What to expect:

The inspector will come and test all aspects of the septic system. They will need someone home to run water for them so that they can see if the lines leading from the house to the septic tank are clear and flowing properly. They will also do a load test on the leach field to determine how well it is accepting water, and take a look inside the tank to verify that it is in good condition. The inspector will be able to provide you with a report of any things that need to be brought up to code before closing. The repairs are required to be completed before closing, and a Use Permit Application needs to be turned into the County’s Health Department (with a verification of any repairs that were done). It usually takes about 3-7 business days for the county to issue the Use Permit, so make sure to give yourself some time!

Do you need repairs, but aren’t able to get them done before closing? There is an option!

It is possible to obtain a Conditional Use Permit that will suffice for closing and buy you an extra 30-60 days to get the work completed (depending on which county). An Agree to Repair form will need to be signed and notarized by the BUYER. This form states that the buyer understands that repairs are needed on the septic system, and that they are okay with having these repairs done after closing. An application will still need to be sent to the county, and a conditional permit will be issued within a couple of days. Once the repairs are completed, a certified septic contractor will need to verify that the repairs have been completed to code, and submit a verification form to the county. A Final Use Permit will then be issued for the new homeowner.

Our recommendations to help the process go smoothly:

· We recommend having the inspection and pumping done as soon as you have the property under contract. Try to give yourself 3-4 weeks before closing, just in case any repairs are needed. This way you don’t need to stress!

· Regularly maintaining your septic system greatly decreases the chances that you will need minor or major repairs when you go to sell your home. See the 6 Habits for a Healthy Septic System.

· Have the lids exposed before the appointment. If the lids are under ground, digging them out yourself beforehand can save you from paying additional labor fees!

Things you should know:

· Someone will need to be home during the inspection to run water (home owner, realtor, friend, or if the home is vacant you can provide a lock box for the inspector).

· The Use Permit Application can be submitted by the home owner, or a Certified Septic Contractor (our company does this for you!)

· A Use Permit is only valid for 6-12 months (depending on the county). If your home has not sold within that time, you can apply for a 6 month extension through the county!

· Some mortgage companies do not allow a Conditional Use Permit, and require that the repairs are done before closing.

Common things that are discovered during the Use Inspection:

· Your septic tank lids must be at ground surface. If they are underground, risers (and potentially lids) will need to be added to the lids to bring them up to grade.

· If your lids are not in good condition, they may need to be replaced with either concrete or poly lids (or cast iron if it is in a high traffic area).

· If your tank is missing an inlet or outlet tee, or if your inlet or outlet baffle is in poor condition, a new PVC tee may need to be installed.

· If there is any evidence of settling or a blockage in your piping (from the house to the tank or from the tank to the leach field), a camera scope may need to be done to determine if it something that needs to be repaired.

Do you have any further questions? Please let us know!

Thanks for reading,

Summer Todd-Rhoads

Permitting Specialist

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