Small Multifamily on Septic

6 Replies

Hey BP,

We are looking at house hacking a large triplex in Panama City Fl that is currently on septic. Here are the details:

~4600SqFt

7 bed/ 6 bath

Built in 1957

The tank is raised and requires a lift station which was just replaced according to the listing agent.

My understanding is this was originally a massive house that was converted into 3 units. We are getting ready to make an offer but want to be sure we dot the i's and cross the t's before jumping into a headache. What specifically should I ask, do, check, verify, or have inspected before pulling the trigger? We plan on having an inspection done on the house and tank during our DD period.

Even at 3 units, there are additional units to be added if desired via a 3 car garage, extra rooms, etc. How would I verify how much this system can handle?

Thanks in advance!

Sounds like a "mound system". Those are a more expensive septic solution. As far as the capacity, check with the sanitation/health department in the municipality it's located in. They should have records of what it is and can advise you of what it can handle.

I've personally never seen a raised mound anywhere near 1957 old. My guess the systems not original. Mounds are common in soils that dont perk well nowadays. Back in the day, old timers didn't care about percolate rates they just threw in what they thought would work leach field wise and most the time got away with it. Moving extra dirt in, equipment, extra pump tanks and pump controls would've cost a fortune back then. Heck in my area most guys were still doing cesspools in 1957 let alone acutal septic tanks with dboxes and leachfeilds. 

I've seen old septic tanks and usually when you go to take a lid off the rebar comes right off the tank lid. I've seen septic systems where the distribution box was a challenge to even find and there were no cleanout on leachfeild. I've seen where they've failed prematurely because they put the same soil in the leachfeild that came out on new systems. Recently I pulled a tank lid and it was full of garbage that a tennat flushed down toilet. 

@George W. Interesting. thank you for the info! The soil here (Panama City Fl) is generally considered to have a high perc rate, although I don't know about that lot specifically of course. I'll reach out to the health department and see what they can tell me.

@Kavin Kuykendall it definitely sounds like a mound system. I just went under contract on a duplex in Panama City with a mound septic system and we are getting it inspected. This specific one is almost 25 years old so at the end to its 20-30 year life cycle and will need replaced. If yours is newer and you get it inspected you may be okay. We had Parker Septic inspect and they, or another septic company, would be the ones to ask about adding future load. Hope that helps!