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FHA well and spetic guidelines

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heelsfan

Freshman Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2006
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Virginia
I am doing an appraisal for an FHA insured loan and have questions regarding the well and septic requirements. The subject was built in 1898 and I have no idea how old the current well and septic tank are. I located what I believed to be the well and the septic drain field in the back yard and they appear to meet FHA's distance requirement of being 100' from each other. During the inspection I noticed standing water about 10' from the FRONT door. When I asked the homeowner, she said that was where the well was located and it puddled with water every time they had a significant rainfall. She also said at times the rainfall would affect the workability of her plumbing. I had assumed the well was below the pump house in the backyard, but could it be in her front yard where she said? Even if the borrower was incorrect regarding the location of the well, should I condition the appraisal subject to an inspection by a local health authority or professional to determine the viability of the system. Thanks ahead of time for your help. I think the age of the home has me worried on this one.
 

RSW

Elite Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Tennessee
If it worries you so much, you may want to CB4 the report for an inspection of the well and septic system by the local authorities. You can state what the home owner said in your report.
 

ROBERT JONES

Junior Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
New Jersey
You have your ammunition both visually and verbally from the seller. The standing water issue alone is enough to warrant a professional opinon. If you have a pic, all the better. Don't forget to check of water and sewer are available to be tied into.
 

CANative

Elite Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2003
Professional Status
Retired Appraiser
State
California
I can't think of a reason for a drilled and cased well to "overflow" when it rains. If the property is that old I would suspect a hand dug well which requires certain inspections or could possibly result in a reject due to not meeting MPR's. Read the 4150.2 carefully.

Interesting side note: I was watching a really old re-run of Bonanza last week and was surprised to learn that Hoss and Adam Cartwright are the ones who invented the well drilling process. Who'd have thought?
 

Wm. Hattaway

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2006
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Florida
QUOTE: Interesting side note: I was watching a really old re-run of Bonanza last week and was surprised to learn that Hoss and Adam Cartwright are the ones who invented the well drilling process. Who'd have thought?

I thought Al Gore invented the well drilling process.
 

Hamlet

Elite Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2006
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Ohio
Interesting side note: I was watching a really old re-run of Bonanza last week and was surprised to learn that Hoss and Adam Cartwright are the ones who invented the well drilling process. Who'd have thought?

Are you sure about this, because I saw Orlando Bloom digging a well in Kingdom of Heaven and that was just prior to the Third Crusade? I'm pretty sure that happened well before Hoss and Adam were on the scene.:rof::rof:
 

Metamorphic

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2008
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
California
I'm no FHA expert but I know a dam lot about wells.

If the well is actually where she says it is, and the area around the well head does flood during or shortly after a rain, that suggests 1 or 2 things might be at work. 1) Bad drainage...obviously, but its imperative that well heads have a sanitary seal to prevent surface water/runoff from infiltrating the well. This is important both for health of the people drinking the water and to prevent contamination of the aquifer. But here's the thing, "modern" sanitary seals are not all that reliable in many soil/rock conditions, I wouldn't expect much protection at all from a historic installation in a spot that has bad drainage. Basically they would effectively be drinking form the roof downspouts, and putting that same water into the ground for their neighbors to drink. The best protection is grading that moves surface water away from the well head, and a well casing that extends above grade. Option 2)The water is coming from below, aka its an occasionally "artesian" well, or in scientific terms the potentiometric surface extends above the land surface. Basically when the water level in the well rises, the level extends above the land surface and so the surface "floods" with water from the well. The problem is is that an aquifer that responds that quickly to a rainfall event is probably not sufficiently isolated from surface water. Its normal for surface water infiltrate and later end up as groundwater, but if it doesnt spend long enough in the ground it wont be sufficiently purified. A quick response time suggests too close a connection to surface water, IOW a shallow well (unless of course you're in a limestone "karst" area, where water flows in actual tunnels through the limestone rather than between small grains of sand (sedimentary aquifer). Artesian wells are not common in Ca....I've had one out of the somewhere between 500 and 1000 wells I've put in. It responded seasonally...basically a winter's worth of rainfall would cause it to overflow for a few months in the spring but not mere hours after a heavy rainfall. I'm not familiar with Virginia geology being a lifetime west coaster, but I think there's good cause based on what you know to have the well and septic system investigated by pro's.
 
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