Friday, January 09, 2009

A Little Devisive

The debate is raging between my friends and coworkers as to whether a well and septic (which I will have to have if I'm out away from town a little bit) are acceptable.

My coworkers are all, "oh, a well and septic aren't any trouble at all. You just have to replace the well pump every once in a while, and pump out the septic every ten years or so, and that's all there is to it! Nothing to be concerned about."

And my friends are all, "OH MY GOD wells and septic systems are EVIL EVIL EVIL you will go BANKRUPT trying to take care of a well and septic and THEN YOU WILL DIIIIIEEEEEEEE."

I have no idea who's right. I do know that while some people do have problems with their wells and septic systems, surely it can't be as dire as my friends are saying. I also know that you can have the systems tested before you buy. I think I'll ask the Realtor (squeeeee! I have a Realtor!) about it tomorrow.

How about you guys? Well and septic, or municipal?


listie said...

Either (I have both). But, if you go with the well and septic be sure to have the well tested and ask when the last time the septic was pumped and/or if the tank has been replaced. Your realtor should be able to advise you on what to look out for and what, if anything, is required by law for the transfer of property. I wouldn't be too concerned if you do your homework. Lots of people in your area have wells and septic systems.

Bridgett said...

I grew up in a house with well and septic and the septic tank was, indeed, a pain in the ass. They require somewhat more maintenance routinely and at your expense than muni systems. The septic systems in use around here have a design life of about 20 years, so it's likely that any septic system you're going to be looking at will be at or near the edge of its design life (because no one wants to replace them, as it costs between $5k and $20k). It's hard to maintain the pipes going into the house and old leachfields might make your yard squishy at times when the rain falls a lot. (Actually, that's a downside of looking in the dead of winter. In spring, problems with septic systems are ob-veee-us. Ahem.) So, yes, they are expensive. Home ownership is expensive and the costs always occur when you don't have any cash at hand.

On the other hand, you can get a bigger piece of property (and more rural, which to me is a plus) more cheaply with septic/well, which may offset the costs you'll incur later. Alternately, if your inspection shows that there are some problems with the septic (cracked tank, blocked field, damaged vents), you can ask for these things to be fixed (or knock the cost of fixing them off the purchase price) as part of making the deal. I'd go with trying to get them fixed so that you don't incur the upfront costs and instead pay for them through your nifty 5% loan, but that's because I didn't have much money beyond down payment to mess with at the time we bought our home.

Keep in mind that you are not going to put such a load, so's to speak, on the system as a family of four and so you will be presumably stressing it less over its life. They are typically designed to handle up to 500 gallons of blackwater (waste) and greywater (laundry, shower, sink water) per day. Each individual typically contributes 75 gal per day...

Gah. Enough about septic. Wells weren't so bad. In dry spells, you'd get some gunk in the water when you were washing your hair, but if the water tests out potable, it's kind of cool to be drinking water from your own spring.

Bridgett said...

As an addendum, country-raised people are generally less freaked by septics than suburban people. The attitude of your coworkers (shit happens, you deal) was pretty much the attitude of my parents and their neighbors.

Home-buying comes down to knowing yourself. You have to figure out (honestly) what you can't live without, what you really want, what you're willing to give up, and what you're going to be able to put up with.

rockygrace said...

Thanks for the advice, guys!

Oh, and Bridgett - did you ever get your card? Because if not, I'm gonna have to come up there and have a little chat with your postman. :)

Bridgett said...

Yes, I did and it was great. The postman gave me a very dirty look when he delivered it, though.

My kid was interested in how you got started doing those kinds of art cards. She thought it was a neat idea and I am half-expecting that she's going to go gonzo on the family photobox the next time she has a snow day.

rockygrace said...

I found the photos in a box at a flea market, and it just sort of .... went from there.

And I think it's hysterical that your postman gave you a dirty look. Ha!

kitkat said...

I am totally a product of having been raised in the 'burbs. The idea of a septic tank freaks me out. When I first started looking at houses here, I was horrified at the idea of owning a house with a septic tank. Now they seem much more normal, although I would still prefer municipal only because it just seems simpler.

That's not in any way advice to you--just my own reaction. It really sounds like it comes down to maintenance and what you're willing to do.

Kerri said...

Well and septic. Clean the septic every 2 or 3 years, get the plumbing maintained every year and you'll be fine. Or go with street plumbing and pay for it.