· Realtor for 27 years.
· Assoc. Broker 23 yrs.
· Founding partner of Fine Creek Realty ….. one of Powhatan’s largest and oldest Real Estate Firms.
What's a Perc Test ....
and more importantly why you need one.
If the land you are buying is not served by public or private sewer lines than you are going to need a drainfield and septic tank. The drain field is to disburse your liquid waste into the ground and the septic tank holds the solid waste and you pump it out every several years.
Septic tanks will work anywhere but for drain fields to work the soil they are installed in must be able to absorb and disburse the liquid waste. Some soil types are not very good at doing that. In general, sandy soil will absorb more water than soil with a high concentration of clay or where the water table is close to the surface.
A percolation test (from percolation, colloquially called a perc test) is a test to determine the absorption rate of soil for a septic drain field or "leach field". The results of a percolation test are required to properly design a septic system. In its broadest terms, percolation testing is simply observing how quickly a known volume of water dissipates into the subsoil of a drilled hole of known surface area. While every jurisdiction will have its own laws regarding the exact calculations for the length of line, depth of pit, etc., the testing procedures are the same.
The most important thing to keep in mind about drain fields and perc test is that you will not be able to build on your property unless the County determines through the use of a perc test that the soil is suitable for a drain field. Therefore when you are writing a contract to buy land that will require a drain field, it is imperative that you include a clause in the contract that makes buying / closing on the land contingent on you being able to get a drain field permit. To do this you would get the County Health Department or a soil scientist to check the soil. The following is an example of such a clause.
SOIL STUDY: This Contract is contingent for ___30 ( for example) ____ days from date of execution of this Contract by both Purchaser and Seller to allow purchaser at its expense to obtain a soil study and/or percolation test, which shall lawfully allow for the erection and use of _____4 bedroom home (for example ) ______on the Property. Such study or test shall be pursued diligently and in good faith and if such study or test reveals that Purchaser’s intended use of the Property is not permissible or practicable, Purchaser shall have the right, upon written notice to Seller, to terminate this Contract, in which event the Deposit shall be returned to Purchaser and the parties shall have no further liability or obligations hereunder, except as set forth herein.