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The information Mr. Pugel provides to follow is both vital and useful … but … it fails to disclose

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Flush out the details on a home’s septic system before buying … PAYSON ROUNDUP … Ray Pugel … August 31, 2010

As we know, real estate has been in the toilet for quite a while, hopefully, getting poised for a comeback like it has in other economic cycles. With that said, let’s discuss one facet of the home buying process that primarily occurs in areas located outside the Town of Payson.
The septic/sanitary inspection is an integral part of the real estate buying process in areas such as Star Valley, Pine and Strawberry.

There is a special addendum to a real estate contract called the “On-Site Wastewater Treatment Facility Addendum.”

This addendum is used when there is an on-site sanitary system on the property. An on-site sanitary system may be a septic system, alternative system, or in the old days it may have been a 55 gallon drum poked with holes, filled with rocks and buried in the ground.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) rules compel a pre-transfer inspection and transfer of ownership of the system when a property is conveyed.
Generally, the inspection of a septic system involves a look see at the water levels in the tank to determine if the tank is sound. If the level is low, it may be determined that the tank is no longer structurally sound. If the water level is high, it may indicate that the leach field is not working properly and may need attention. The tank is normally pumped by the inspector to remove solids that may eventually clog the system.

According to Jake Garrett, of the Gila County Sanitation Department, septic systems should be pumped, on average, every three to five years to insure that they remain in proper working order. Gila County offers a brochure for new septic system owners titled, “I Have a New Septic Tank System…Now What Do I Do?”

We frequently refer to a system used in areas where the ground does not adequately leach as alternative systems. There are various types and each operates differently; however, they also must be inspected prior to transfer.
Generally, if the sanitary system is found to be in need of repair, the seller is responsible for the repair up to 1 percent of the property purchase price.

If the repairs are in excess of 1 percent, there are several options: The buyer may cancel the purchase contract or the seller may cancel the contract unless the buyer agrees to pay the excess cost. Of course, the seller may choose to make repairs even if it is above the 1 percent of purchase price as stated in the addendum.

Septic/sanitary systems in working order are important to affect a timely sale. As one plumber proudly proclaimed on the side of his truck: “A good flush beats a full house!”
Ray Pugel is a designated broker with Coldwell Banker Bishop Realty. Contact him at (928) 474-2216.

Here’s the deal … and before I begin I invite you to challenge anything in my reply to this posting …

The currently enforced ADEQ mandated pre-transfer septic inspection process is a SHAM … I repeat a SHAM … How can I be so bold … I was part of the “stakeholder” process that attempted to input but our input was deleted when the rule making was taken behind closed doors in part by ADEQ and the County Environmental Health Directors.

Secondly, I invite you to read the applicable rule … Any person selling or transferring ownership of a property served by an on-site wastewater treatment facility (including a conventional septic tank system or alternative on-site wastewater treatment facility) must retain a qualified Inspector to inspect the facility within six months prior to transferring ownership of the property (Arizona Administrative Code, A.A.C. R18-9-A316). Typically, such an inspection is triggered by the resale of a home by an owner, whether with or without the assistance of a real estate professional …

Essentially ADEQ mandates YOU enter into a contract with a reputed-professional … but … neither ADEQ nor any County Environmental Health is a party to that contract or agreement. You are solely on your own to determine whether or not the information provided to you by your reputed-professional is correct, honest or valid.

Experience has shown that when an individual feels the information provided to them by their reputed-professional of choice is found to be incorrect, dishonest or invalid both ADEQ and the respective County Environmental Health Dept quickly run for cover becoming deaf and dumb.

CAVEAT EMPTOR prevails in Arizona respecting whether or not the information given to you usually at the time of “closing” is worth even the paper it is written on respecting the actual condition of the residential onsite wastewater treatment and effluent disposal system (septic system) is on the property you are purchasing.

In reality this is a SCAM promulgated into law and rule to provide to ADEQ the sum of $50 for every real estate transaction involving a residential septic system but for which ADEQ provides absolutely NOTHING. It’s nothing more than another phony tax and unfortunately in this instance there are no benefits.

Just in case you find you need to take legal action against your reputed-professional be advised don’t expect ADEQ or the County Environmental Health Dept to assist you. Reading all the applicable implications of this bogus aspect of the ADEQ rule … all the parties involved in this inspection scam have found niches in which to CYA … save the BUYER is left standing in the cold.

Should you feel my assessment is incorrect, dishonest or invalid your assessment would be appreciated.

Respectfully submitted,


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