Why You Should Obtain Septic System Records

We are aware that some other companies who offer inspections don’t ask for septic records such as permits or Filings. We do a property owner with a septic system has various duties under provincial regulations and we need to ensure you, as a buyer or the property owner, know what these are.

Depending on the purpose of the inspection, it can usually go ahead without septic records, but it is often more costly to do so and some information just cannot be confirmed. We are aware that Realtors representing the Sellers may not be cooperative, but it is absolutely worth making the effort to get these documents.

Why Permit/Filing Records & Maintenance Records are Important

  1. They confirm a sewage system was legally designed and installed. This is really important if you have plans that will require a building permit.
  2. They allow the Inspector to confirm the system is being used within it’s capabilities and that it can handle your needs. Systems are designed with a specific capacity and this is shown on the permit/Filing.
  3. Systems installed after June 2005, and some installed before, have specific legal obligations of the property owner. The buyer needs to be aware of and understand their legal duties, and how to properly maintain the system is a big part of that.
  4. Systems installed after June 2005 are required under the Sewerage System Regulation to be monitored and maintained according to their Operation & Maintenance Plan by a Registered Onsite Wastewater Practitioner – Maintenance Provider. The ROWP Maintenance Provider is required to provide the property owner with a written report after each visit.
  5. Some older sewage systems also had Operation & Maintenance Plans and since many of those systems were “innovative” in design, the information in the O&M Plan is important for system function and compliance.
  6. Maintenance records for a sewage system have the same value as they do for a used car, and for the same reasons. The more complicated the system, the more maintenance intensive it is. The more maintenance intensive it is, the more critical the records.
  7. If you apply for a Building Permit, you may be required to provide a report or form completed by an Authorized Person. If records still exist, they MUST be provided and the inspection cannot go ahead without them.

Why an Inspection May be Limited Without Septic Records

  1. It can take much longer and cost more to find buried system components when the as-built drawing or construction detail drawings are not available. This depends on the type of system.
  2. The Inspector may estimate the capabilities and limitations of the system but cannot confirm these against the actual design. It is very common that homes have had basement or other rooms turned into bedrooms or secondary suites without considering that the sewage system is not large enough to support the increase. This overuse can shorten the lifespan of the system and even cause sewage to reach the surface of the ground, causing a potential health hazard. It is also a contravention of the provincial regulation the system was installed under.
  3. There have been a number of cases where there was a problem with the system during the installation and final approval was not given. We have seen systems which fell through the cracks between the Health Authority and the Building Department, and the only evidence of this is on the records.
  4. There can occasionally be Orders issued by a Health Officer against the property requiring that something be done or repairs/replacement of the system be completed. Compliance with these Orders is a legal obligation of the property owner so you don’t want to find out about them after you complete the purchase.

How Do I Supply Septic System Records For An Inspection?

A Listing Realtor or a property owner can request all septic system records on file with the local Health Authority in your area for that property, and these documents can be emailed to us. The documents should be emailed no later than the evening before the inspection to give us enough time for analyzing the document.

Any records on file with the Building Department regarding the system should also be provided. This is especially relevant for systems installed prior to 1986 because Health Authority records may no longer exist.  It can also be helpful if modifications were made to the building after it was originally constructed.

Our Operations Manager can provide you with the contact information to make the records request in your area.