Should I get a septic inspection before buying?

Published: February 10, 2012 · Updated: June 12, 2017


Should I get a septic inspection before buying a cottage?

Smart cottage shoppers quickly learn a lot about septic systems. The first lesson? Installing a new one can be a major expense, often in the $10,000 to $15,000 range, and even more in difficult terrain. Second, the size of your septic—which is dependent on the size of your lot—determines the size of the cottage you’re able to build. Third, just because the top of the septic tank looks solid, it doesn’t mean the bottom is. “I’ve seen steel tanks where the top looks fine but the bottom is Swiss cheese,” says broker John Sallinen of Re/Max Parry Sound-Muskoka Realty. Newer septic system tanks are made of plastic, fiberglass, or concrete. And while in the past, cottagers might have installed DIY septics, new regulations and standards mean that septic installations should be handled by the pros. Every cottage should have a professional septic inspection as a condition of purchase, says Sallinen, so that problems can be spotted—and pushed back to the seller to address.