Harwood Homes


Septic System Error

Septic System errors

Septic- How a developer made a HUGE mistake!

We were looking at a property recently which was built in 1990 and definitely would not be approved now…

The site is in a beachside suburb, 1 of 7 units and are each on a septic tank – significantly under capacity. They each have a septic installed 7000ltrs each, which all the waste water for the property flows into. The average family uses 3500ltrs of water per week – so effectively the system fills up and needs pumping out every 2 weeks with a cost of between $400-600 per time! There is a PUBLIC HEALTH ORDER over this property and the next door neighbours’ with the council pumping the target property out fortnightly, and billing the owner that $400-600 each fortnight. The council advised that the situation can be fixed with 2 options 1) aerated septic system with soakage pits, the cost is around $12k, and 2) a Rhizopod system around $20k. It works by pumping the waste water into concrete pods filled with growing bamboo – plants which need lots of water.

However, we have since learnt that the $12k system is not viable due to site size (it won’t fit on the block) and the Rhizopod system, after speaking to many experts and engineers is actually closer to a $50k fix!! Again the size of the site means the pods have to be craned over the unit and they weigh 2.5 tonnes each…

On top of that, until the bamboo is fully established in 2-3 yrs, those ongoing fortnightly costs of $400-600 will continue… plus, the council may place an order limiting the amount of people that can occupy this unit, ongoing into the future.

All this means that the subject property is surrounded by excess water on all sides and there is much clay in the soil make up. We genuinely feel for purchasers of these units, as no doubt they all bought in good faith, completely unaware of the property developers mistake. Since then, they have been slapped with a Council Order to rectify the system. All parties say that the original developer was at fault. The owners are trying to seek recompense from those involved prior to purchasing… I hope they have a good outcome.

Even taking these costs into account in analysing this property, unfortunately, none of the neighbours were keen on fixing their systems and have been ignoring the environmental health officers concerns and demands. Some of them even resorting to pumping waste water up to their gutters and out through stormwater (very illegal).

Our due diligence on this property involved speaking to installers and engineers, the council, the agent, lengthy discussions with our conveyancer and very importantly, the neighbours. Ultimately, we decided it wasn’t worth the angst. Go well everyone, hope this helps someone else dodge a tricky septic situation.

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