Local health department rules and regulations control who can do a perc test. In general, the test “runs” with the land, not the owner. Septic systems work by flushing waste into a tank where bacteria breaks it down. If you're thinking about buying rural land, don't buy it without a percolation test. If the soil is already wet, its ability to absorb water may be reduced. So, in theory, the test results should be transferable to you. The perc test is extremely important because it measures the level of liquid absorption of the soil where the proposed septic tank will be located. In addition to this, you should also get control over the land by placing it under an option or a contract. This way, if the perc test is not successful, you can either walk away or attempt to renegotiate the price to compensate for the cost that you will incur if you have to put in an engineered field. The health department may provide a list of local companies that perform perc tests. Frozen soils are both hard to dig into and also have different percolation characteristics since, in many cases, they are mixed with a great deal of frozen water. How to Estimate Costs for an In-Ground Pool, How to Test Your Granite Countertop to See How Much Radon It Is Emitting, Questions on Replacing Water Pipes During Home Remodeling, How to Check the Water in Your Home to See If It Is Drinkable. In most jurisdictions, a perc test is performed when an official from the county health department meets with the owner of the property and/or a licensed excavator to dig a hole and test the drainage rate of the soil on-site (they literally pour water in a … Does Homeowner's Insurance Cover Damages from Radon? Additionally, some say that only health department employees can conduct perc tests. A failed perc test will complicate your plans to build. A perc test measures how much water can percolate through and into the soil. Then, as the tank fills, the system allows the effluent to flow into a leach field. If you do not have a right to buy the land, you could spend the money and time to do the perc test but have it sold out from under you. Before doing a perc test on a piece of land, you must get the existing owner's permission to enter and to dig holes on it. An official perc test that meets all local requirements for a septic or drainage system permit can cost $100-$1,000 or more depending on site size and conditions. On the other hand, your county may require you to do a special perc test when the weather is wet, finding out your soil's capacity in those conditions. A perc test measures how much water can percolate through and into the soil. If the soil does require a perc test, the test can go as high as 106 mpi (Rule 1200-1-6-.06(d)). If you test all of the viable areas on the property and can't pass any of them, you can still choose from many alternative septic and residential sewage treatment systems that are designed to work in areas with poor or fast soil drainage. Use the measuring tape to make sure of the depth of the hole. If, in the course of testing, the rate exceeds 106 mpi, then the hole fails and that section of ground can no longer be used for a subsurface disposal system. When and who can perform a perc test can is governed by local regulations, so it’s always best to check with the building or health department in the municipality (town, county, or city) that has jurisdiction. The drawback to an engineered system is that it is more expensive than a traditional one that uses the existing dirt. The width of the hole is not important. If an official perc test is being done to determine what type of septic system to install, check with the local department of health for specific perc test requirements, including whether the test must be performed by a government employee, a private soils engineer or a septic system designer. Perc testing companies help make sure your potential property is right for the construction project you have in mind. Average costs and comments from CostHelper's team of professional journalists and community of users. They are also more likely to be familiar with the region's specific soil type and common risk factors. Perc tests, or percolation tests, aren’t the most glamorous part of buying a property. If water can't move through the soil, or if it moves too easily, then a septic system can't be installed on the property. A perc test report provides standard data such as testing date, location of the test, technician name, and under what conditions the perc test was performed. When you are buying a piece of land without a sewer connection, you will probably need to install a septic system for your waste water. PERC TESTING. The time of year at which a perc test gets taken can affect its readings. A perc test, or percolation test, is a soil test that is performed before installing a septic system tank. With a passing test, you will be able to install a septic system. When you negotiate your contract or option, make sure that you include an inspection contingency. Often, approved parties will include a soil scientist or septic engineer. Without the option of either a municipal sewage system or a septic system, most cities won't allow house construction on the property. It determines how quickly the material from the septic system will be absorbed into the soil. Engineered systems involved replacing the existing dirt and clay in your leach field with a mixture of sand and gravel that can dissipate a great deal of water. Steve Lander has been a writer since 1996, with experience in the fields of financial services, real estate and technology. © Copyright 2020 Hearst Communications, Inc. If the land does not pass and your county will allow it, you can also install an engineered system. In some jurisdictions, you can do the test yourself, but in others, including some parts of California, you need a qualified professional to do it. This will not only let you do the perc test, but will also give you the right to cancel the purchase of the land. How Do I Know What a House Is Really Worth Before Making an Offer? In the leach field, it dissipates into the ground where natural enzymes and bacteria break it down. Failing a percolation test means you can't build a traditional septic tank in the area you tested. If you buy land without doing a perc test, you can complete a perc test after you purchase it. The Designated Representative and the Environmental Specialist use the soil pits to determine the depths to rock, any impervious soil layers, and the anticipated level of ground water in the wet periods of the year. Lander holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Columbia University.
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