24 units on a well and septic - advice?

7 Replies

I am considering my first apartment bldg purchase. One of the buildings I am considering is on well and septic. When I have dealt with houses with well and septic, it seems like the maintanence is rarely done and there are issues. I can't imagine 24 units with well and septic. Has anyone ever dealt with this many units having well and septic before and if so, can you give me your advice/experience? Thank you!

I'd love to hear some input on this, too. I'm considering a property in the city on septic. I have no experience maintaining a septic tank. But, I've seen Dirty Jobs and it seems expensive!

Actually, not sure about a property this size but we have 6 units with well and septic and I have had  a combination of well and septic on a number of properties so a few comments. Well:  Most important is water quality, volume,  and lastly water pressure. We tested at purchase every so often after.  I also put a water meter on our well to monitor use, it has been great for leak detection and therefore decreasing use. Without washers and with some high volume fixtures we have had  use of 30/gal/person/day use. Probably should check the national average and see if the well can support it.  I know we can do double this as with couple of leaking faucets some days we had reached 90 gal/person/day. I don't want to use that on a regular basis though.  Well water pressure is not what people are used to and you may get complaints without a booster pump.   You can install a booster pump to up the pressure but I have only done that on an individual property with very low pressure. This property is at 50 psi and I have let it be.  

Fire protection:  If you are on a well consider what is the impact on fire protection, is there also no hydrant?  do you have a sprinkler system?  If you have a sprinkler system do you have holding tanks for the sprinklers. Does the state require the building be sprinklered?  Insurance cost may also be impacted depending on the answers to this.

Septic:  I am in RI so we have some more sophisticated systems for septic required in some areas. These systems have ejection pumps and filters and alarms.  If you have a simple gravity system, how old is it and how often has it been pumped?  Is it still an okay system or have regulations changed?  what would it cost if it fails?  Ejection pumps and filters and septic alarms in my opinion can be a PIA.  Of course they are better for the environment but more can go wrong. In my experience you need more frequent service and  importantly you need electricity.  Another point about ejection pumps is that personal care products really mess them up.

Electric-  does the property have a generator?   We installed one because the previous owner was out of electric for a week with Sandy. The last thing I would want is the septic and well out in apartments.  We did only do a generator for these utilities and not the entire building.  Less of an issue if your septic does not need electric but a well will still not provide water without electric.

A very good resource is Privatewellclass.org  they have a free 10 class web course on wells, webinars that answer many questions on well and there was one presentation on septic.  Your local Ag extension, DEM or similar organization for your state will have state specific guidelines.

 Inspect, ask questions, and think about the impact of local regulations.  What I say should not discourage you but rather open your eyes to what you are getting into.

Tough to assess but if you looked at it as a mobile home park with 24 pads dependent upon both a septic & well water you will appreciate the issues you may face &/or be surprised by.

We looked at a MHP some time ago & the well water supply during the summer was an issue as was pump station maintenance etc during the winters, then you have the ongoing water quality inspections. The property was also cited because the septic tank & leech fields were now too small (as per newly introduced codes) & the new sand filter system needed to meet 'code' was at a very high cost. We passed on it.

Call the county.  Check to see if that building is in compliance or are they trying to do away with either the septic and / or the well.  The seller won't tell you. Upon owner change are there upgrades needed?   Ask about grandfathering and when that might expire or be removed?

We'd never consider a well unless city water was in the street out front and at a reasonable tap in fee.  Have a septic guy out to assess the life of the field.  Some soils cause the leach field to have a fixed life time, then poof, you have to install the field somewhere else.  Is there enough land for another field.  This can be a way the county forces a mobile home park or your building to "die".

@Colleen F. Thanks so much for your detailed post. That really gives me a lot to work with!

@Curt Smith @Pat L. Thank you both, certainly things I had not thought of and very good information to have.

"24 units on a well and septic - advice?"

Cheese platters for Christmas for everyone!

Glad to help.  Wish you luck and let us know if you decide to do due diligence what you find out. This is a good learning opportunity for us all

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