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Home Inspections

Title V Inspections

by Bill Gassett on August 22, 2013 · 0 comments

Title V Inspections 101

Massachusetts Title VIf you live in Massachusetts and your home has a septic system, you’ll more than likely need to have the system inspected and approved before transferring ownership or making significant modifications to your home.

What is a Title V inspection?

The set of state regulations that govern this process is called Title V. These regulations were created in 1995 by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to protect waterways and the environment. Septic system inspections are a key piece of these regulations. Each city’s Board of Health administers Title V and keeps a record of a home’s as-built septic plans, as well as inspection results, which details the condition of the septic system and its capacity.

When do you need a Title V inspection?

Title V regulations require septic system inspections anytime ownership of a property is transferred. This includes selling the home to new owners or inheriting the property. There are, however, some transfers in which homeowners are exempt from a Title V inspection. According to the city of Yarmouth, MA’s website, these include:

  • Transferring ownership of a home between current spouses.
  • Transferring between parents and their children.
  • Transferring between full siblings.
  • When the property is held in a trust where at least one beneficiary is a first-degree relationship.

In addition to transfers of ownership, an inspection is typically required when the use of the property changes, such as converting a home into a commercial office space. A Title V inspection is also required when properties are combined or divided.

You may also need a Title V inspection if you make additions or improvements to your home. Although not all types of home additions dictate a septic system inspection under Title V regulations, adding bathrooms, showers, or bedrooms warrant an inspection.

Who performs a Title V inspection?

A Title V inspection should be done by a certified septic pumping professional, licensed in the state of Massachusetts. These professionals can also perform any necessary repairs, upgrades, or replacements necessary for compliance with the regulations.

In Massachusetts, the state does allow for a Confidential Voluntary Assessment, which means a homeowner can have their septic system inspected without having to submit their finding to the Board of Health. This could give the homeowner a heads-up to any problems or repairs needed before the official Title V inspection.

Here are a few septic professionals who perform Title V inspections throughout Massachusetts:

What does a Title V inspection entail?

Massachusetts Title V SepticWhen inspection time comes, the inspector will look at all parts of your septic system, including the cesspool, leach field, distribution box and septic tank. The inspector will also check for hydraulic failure and check the high groundwater elevation. According to the MassDEP, the septic tank, distribution box and the cesspool can be inspected at the absolute minimum.

The inspector will provide information on water usage for the last two years, as well as make sure that the number of bedrooms the septic system is rated for is the number of bedrooms in the house. Ensuring accuracy on this point can save homeowners a lot of headache if you ever want to sell your house.

Under Massachusetts’ regulations, the number of bedrooms a house can claim to have is dictated by the capacity of the septic system. For example, a home could have four rooms that are suitable for bedrooms, but if the Title V inspection determines that the septic system has only enough capacity for three bedrooms, then the home must be listed as a three-bedroom home.

This can come as quite a shock to homeowners, and it can obviously have a negative effect on the property’s value. Worse yet, ignoring this aspect of a Title V inspection can mean you’re essentially misleading prospective homebuyers, which can trigger expensive litigation. For this reason it’s important for homeowners to get their Title V inspection completed well before putting their home on the market. Under Title V regulations, the property owner has two years to fix problems found in an inspection.

It’s a good idea to obtain the original septic system plans from your local Board of Health and have them on-hand during inspection, as well as records of maintenance and pumping that’s been done on the system.

Once inspection is completed, the inspector will submit his findings to the Board of Health and they will give a conditional, pass or fail on the septic system. The Board of Health will keep a record of the results, which for any home buyer, is great because they can obtain the information before deciding to buy. However, home buyers should note that Title V inspections only assess the septic system’s current functioning – the report isn’t considered an indication of future performance or the expected longevity of the system.

Also keep in mind that when you receive a Title V report from your inspector and it says “pass” that does not mean that you have completely cleared the hurdle of what is necessary in Massachusetts. Local board of healths have broad power over septic systems and could potentially deny the approval for some reason. This really becomes important because there is the potential that you could be heading to closing on your home thinking you have a passing Title V when in fact you do not! See Massachusetts Title V approval for a complete run down.

What if your Title V doesn’t pass?

The first order of business is to call the local Board of Health and a local engineer. The latter will help to assess the situation and determine the best course of action. One thing the engineer can do is see if there is a reserve area in the original design of your septic system, meaning it has the capability to add more leach trenches. Another option is to come up with a design in the event that the entire system needs to be relocated.

Relocating or replacing a septic system can be costly and it’s a good idea to bid the project to several septic installers once the design is completed. This will help you find the best price within your budget. If money is tight, there are a few programs available to alleviate the financial burden of having to replace your septic system – tax credit and low-cost financing through the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency (MHFA), the Farmers Home Administration (FHA) and the USDA Rural Development Program.

Megan McClure is a freelance writer based outside Philadelphia. Find her on Google+.

 

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Fixing home water problems

If you have ever been in the unfortunate position of having a pipe burst in your home, a washing machine hose give way while you were gone for the weekend, or a finished basement become flooded by a 100 year storm, you know what a royal pain in the $#@ it is to clean up and remedy water damage!

There are few things that can damage a home more than water. One of the most important things you can do when faced with a water damage problem is to tackle it right away.

Without taking immediate action the threat of getting mold becomes very likely which can further increase an already expensive proposition.

If you can get take care of the water in under 48-72 hours you stand a much greater chance that you can keep the mold at bay.

If it all possibly the 1st thing that you are going to want to do is take everything out of the area where the water damage has occurred and get it into a warm and dry environment. Even if it means taking these things outside that is what you should do.

The next step will be to either get in touch with a water damage and restoration company or take the same steps they would make in getting the water re-mediated from the home.

Open doors and/or windows ~ It goes without saying that you want to get as much fresh air circulating throughout the home as soon as possible.

Purchase or rent high powered fans ~ Most of the time opening the windows is not going to be enough to dry out serious water infiltration. You are going to need to get a hold of a few large fans that circulate a tremendous amount of air. Most of the fans needed to solve a water issue are going to run at least a few hundred dollars to purchase. Renting a fan could run you about $25 – $50 a day.

Water in the basement ~ If the water is in the basement an additional suggestion would be to use a large dehumidifier which can suck all the moisture right out of the area.

Of course one of the 1st things you should determine is how the water actually got into the basement in the 1st place. Was it ground water, water from a crack or surface water that is being improperly directed towards the home. Sometimes something as simple as a gutter or downspout coming away from the home can be the culprit.

See fixing basement water problems for a complete list of possible basement water problem solutions.

Check the sump pump ~ If your basement has an operational sump pump you will want to make sure it is working properly. On many occasions a sump pump can fail causing the water to flood a basement. If you find this is the case you can always purchase a pump to get a significant amount of water out of a basement. For smaller jobs a wet vac should suffice.

Water damage repair & restoration

When water damage occurs in your home you will be able to salvage some things but definitely not others. Some of the items that potentially can  be saved include sub-flooring,  hardwood flooring and linoleum provided you dry them quickly. Draperies and other such cloth goods can also be salvaged with a cleaning and disinfectant.

Most of the time you are not going to be able to save such things as insulation, drywall, plaster, laminated furniture, and carpet padding. These items absorb water very quickly and offer the perfect environment for mold to grow.

If the water damage in the home is extensive you may want to really consider hiring a professional restoration specialist that will  come to your home with the whole gamete of remedies including dehumidifiers, air purifiers, fans, and special equipment to dry floors. A professional water damage specialist will also employ cleaners to quickly and efficiently dry out a water damaged home.

Beyond these typical steps, a water damage specialist may also employ the use of wall driers, sanitizers, and mold and mildew remediation techniques to ensure that what is already a bad situation doesn’t get worse over time.

When fixing water damage in a home, addressing the problem head on becomes paramount. Keep these tips in mind if you are faced with this unforeseen issue.

Other Real Estate articles worth a look:

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Fixing home water damage was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at billgassett@remaxexec.com or by phone at 508-435-5356. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 25+ Years.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service the following towns in Metrowest MA: Hopkinton, Milford, Southboro, Westboro, Ashland, Holliston, Medway, Franklin, Framingham, Grafton, Hopedale, Mendon, Upton, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Northboro, Bellingham, Uxbridge, Sutton, Worcester and Douglas.

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Massachusetts Radon removal from wells

Radon water testing

One of the roles of any good buyer agent when selling a home to a buyer client in Massachusetts is to educate them on the home buying process including the “contingencies” that they should have in their Real Estate contract.

The contingencies in a Massachusetts Real Estate contract usually consist of some or all of the following: A mortgage financing clause, a home inspection, pest inspection, mold inspection, water testing and lastly a radon inspection.

A Realtor’s job is to always look out for the best interests of their client. They have a fiduciary responsibility to make sure they protect and educate their buyer. Testing for radon in the air is quite common. Testing the quantity and quality when there is a well present at the home is also quite routine.

I have found while working as a seller’s agent that often times many Realtors are remiss in suggesting to their buyer to test the well for Radon in the water. Before I get into the details about why this can be a costly mistake let me tell you a little bit about Radon.

What is Radon?

Radon is an odorless, colorless, tasteless, radioactive gas found beneath the ground. It occurs naturally and is produced by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. Radon has the ability to dissolve into our water supply.

How does Radon get into the water?

Most radon that is found in homes in Massachusetts as well as many other parts of the country is typically found in the air. It is far less common to see radon in well water. Radon enters into a home from seepage through cracks in the basement floor and walls. When you live in an area where there is an abundance of granite you are more apt to find radon in the water supply. High levels of radon gas are formed and travel through the granite and into the groundwater which is then transported to your private well.

For radon to become a soluble within the water that travels through the cracks in the bedrock, it first has to come in contact with a radium source that is in the process of breaking down into the radon gas. During the transformation, the radon atoms that are created, will either go from the rock and into the water, or they will stay in the rock and not effect the water at all. Because of how radon is formed it is very sporadic.

When radon is found to be present in well water showering, washing dishes, and laundering can release radon gas into the air of the home.

How to find out if there is Radon in well water?

This is where I said above that it can become very costly for a buyer if their Realtor is not paying attention. When you are buying a home with a well one of the contingencies you should have in your contract is the ability to test for Radon in the well water!

There are some home inspectors who perform well tests as part of their service but if not you will want to get someone who specializes in well testing. Whoever does the water test will take a sample of the water that will get sent to a lab for testing. YOU MUST ask for the well to be tested for Radon as it is not part of a standard screening with most laboratories.

How to remove Radon from well water?

Removing radon from water

So what happens if the test comes back positive and you have radon in the well water? Removing radon from well water can be done easily enough but is far more expensive than removing radon from the air. While the removal of high radon in the air of a home can typically range from $900 to $1300 for a standard radon mitigation system, you can expect the cost of radon removal in water to cost thousands.

There are two methods of removing Radon from well water. One is called a Radon Aeration system and the other a Granular Activated Carbon system or GAC system for short.

An aeration system is generally recognized as the best system for removing radon from well water although it is much more expensive. An aeration system can run around $3500-$8000. The aeration system is usually installed next to the well tank where the water enters the house. The aeration system consists of a plastic tank where the water gets air injected into it. Radon gets released as it comes in contact with the air. There is a venting system attached that takes the gas up and out of the house generally through a pipe up to the roof.

A granular carbon treatment (GAC) system is also usually installed where your water supply 1st enters the house. The GAC tank is installed after other water treatment systems such as a water softener. A GAC tank is filled with a coconut based activated carbon. The Radon gets trapped in the millions of pours in the carbon as the water passes through. Fresh carbon is able to hold 90% of the atoms until they decay.

The benefit to a carbon system is cost. Generally speaking you can expect to pay between $1500-$2000 for a GAC Radon system. The other plus is that with a GAC Radon treatment system the carbon will also capture other water contaminants. The only downside is that if there are a lot of other contaminants in the water it can shorten the life span of the carbon filter which can become costly to replace.

If the Radon level in the water exceeds 20,000 pCi/l per liter it is recommended that an aeration system is used over a GAC system.

Health risks from Radon in water

The reason why you want to remove radon from the water supply is not due to the fact that you are going to start glowing if you drink the water. When there is radon in the water each time you turn on a faucet you are letting radon into the air!

According to a few websites, radon in the air is estimated to cause as many as 20,000 additional lung cancers per year. Drinking water that has radon in it is only estimated to cause around ten additional cancers patients per year. As you can see there is a huge difference in where radon can hurt you. The risk from ingestion is very minimal.

Remember this: Radon is caused by the breakdown of Radium. It is a gas that can be very sporadic in nature. It is very possible that the home next door could have radon in the water or air and you do not or vise versa. You can not make the blind assumption that if the neighbors home has it so do you.

Other Real Estate articles worth a look:

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on removing radon from well water was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at billgassett@remaxexec.com or by phone at 508-435-5356. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 24+ Years.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service the following towns in Metrowest MA: Hopkinton, Milford, Southboro, Westboro, Ashland, Holliston, Medway, Franklin, Framingham, Grafton, Hopedale, Mendon, Upton, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Northboro, Bellingham, Uxbridge, Worcester and Douglas.

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Massachusetts Realtors not attending home inspection

In the Real Estate industry it is usually pretty easy to spot a truly dedicated Realtor who has a passion for their business. It is also just as easy to spot a pretender that does as little as they can get away with.

Unfortunately, there are very low barriers to becoming a Realtor. Take a test and you are in business as soon as a broker hires you.

Many agents that get into Real Estate do so because they think it is easy money. After being in the Real Estate business for a while some agents tend to develop bad habits and become very lazy.

As a Massachusetts Realtor who has been in the field for the last 24 years, I have met some agents that are fantastic and others that I can’t believe are allowed to practice. See picture above.

There are so many consumers that do not know the rules of the game and don’t realize when the Realtor they have hired is doing what they should be under their job description.  One area that is quite common to see a Realtor not fully representing their clients best interests is at the attendance of the buyers home inspection.

A good buyers agent should be at the home inspection representing their buyer client. Likewise, the sellers agent should also be there to represent the seller during the home inspection.

A great Realtor who is a true advocate for their client is going to walk the walk and talk the talk. How can you properly represent your clients interest in a home inspection if you are not there to hear what has been said by the home inspector? The answer is simple – YOU CAN’T!

Buyer’s agent attending home inspection

As a buyers agent the Realtor must put their clients interests 1st and negotiate for the best terms and conditions for their client. If a buyers agent is not at the home inspection it makes it far more difficult to negotiate the best terms and conditions for the buyer. Part of attending the home inspection is understanding how potential defects will affect the value, as well as what the cost is to remedy such defects. A buyer’s agents job is not to just drive a buyer around until they find a home. Complete buyers representation is seeing the transaction through until closing.

A good buyers agent who is in attendance can get a feel for how important issues that have arisen are rectified. The job description of a buyers representative includes counseling their clients on what is appropriate and reasonable for the seller to correct. For example, if a safety issue is discovered a buyer is more than likely want to get that fixed especially if it poses a real danger.  There is always a fine line though on what is reasonable and appropriate. Part of negotiating is getting the things that are most important addressed in some fashion. This is one of the many roles of a buyers rep.

Seller’s agent attending home inspection

Home inspection Massachusetts

I see buyer’s agents in attendance far more than I see the listing agent being present. This means one thing….There are lots of Massachusetts home seller’s that are getting poor seller representation at home inspections. It is just as important that the seller’s listing agent is present at the inspection. Maybe even more so than the buyers agent!

The listing agent should be there to hear exactly what the home inspector says about the property as it relates to defects. There are two very important factors on why this holds true.

Just as there are good and bad Realtors, the same holds true for home inspectors. There are some inspectors that do an absolutely great job of conveying the facts to a buyer and then explaining how those facts relate to what is or isn’t appropriate.

In my eyes a true professional will make a buyer have a complete understanding of what they are dealing with and whether or not the defect is common for the age of the property and life expectancy of the item in question. On the other hand some home inspectors are “drama queens” and love to make the most minor defect into a catastrophic event.

In the event you have a home inspector that falls into this category a good listing agent in attendance can ask the inspector questions that may alleviate any fears that may have been caused due to the nature in which the issue was explained. There have been plenty of times where I have been able to temper a buyers fears by just asking the home inspector a few simple questions.

Let me make this clear…I do not interfere in any way from the inspector doing his or her job!

The second major reason why a listing agent should attend the home inspection is buyer exaggeration. There are plenty of buyers that love to use the home inspection as a 2nd round of negotiations. In some cases this is warranted and other cases it clearly is not!

There have been plenty of times where I have heard exactly what a home inspector has said about a particular item and the buyer has turned it into something much more involved. Of course when this happens the buyer ends up asking the seller for a credit or a reduction in sale price. More often than not the credit they are looking for is way out of whack with what is appropriate. There have been times where the inspector has said nothing needs to happen and the buyer has still asked for a credit.

This would happen even more if I was not in attendance to hear what the inspector said. When I am in attendance, I can later explain to the seller whether there is a legitimate  need to address an issue or not.

Massachusetts Realtor not giving home inspection advice

If you are thinking of selling your Massachusetts home when you interview the Realtors make sure you ask them if they will be in attendance at the home inspection representing your interests! If you start hearing excuses on why the agent may not be attending I would give serious consideration to someone who will be there for YOU!

You may even hear from a real estate agent that they don’t attend home inspections because someone has told them that it increases their liability.  That’s hogwash! I completely disagree.  It’s the Realtors conduct at the inspection that puts them at risk, not their presence. Know when to open your mouth and when not to!

Realtors should not be tempted to provide a service that’s outside of their expertise. I am clearly not an inspector and I don’t confuse my buyer or seller clients by acting like one.

One other home selling tip is to make sure you fill out the Massachusetts sellers disclosure statement. Make sure the buyer has looked at it prior to when they make an offer. It is far more difficult for a buyer to ask you to remedy issues from a home inspection if they were already aware of them before they made an offer!

Home inspections are an important part of the home buying and selling process in Massachusetts. It makes sense that both parties have proper representation. In other states it may or may not work the same way. Please keep this in mind.

Related Real Estate articles:

Testing a Massachusetts well when buying a home

Massachusetts home warranty benefits

Massachusetts bedroom misrepresentation with septic systems

_________________________________________________________________

About the author: The above Real Estate information on Realtors should be attending home inspections was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at billgassett@remaxexec.com or by phone at 508-435-5356. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 24+ Years.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service the following towns in Metrowest MA: Hopkinton, Milford, Southboro, Westboro, Ashland, Holliston, Medway, Franklin, Framingham, Grafton, Hopedale, Mendon, Upton, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Northboro, Bellingham, Uxbridge, Worcester and Douglas.


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