Drain fields complicate plans | Just Ask Jan

Our friends were about to close on their home when it was determined that the drain field was not big enough.

Dear Jan:

Our friends were about to close on their home when it was determined that the drain field was not big enough.

Our friends question this, as the drain field was designed for a four-bedroom house. The house has three bedrooms. The garage has a little apartment above it with only one bedroom.

How can the drain field be too small?

— SEC

Dear SEC:

Oh … the drain field saga continues. Suddenly everybody is talking drain fields. I must be truthful, I already heard about this situation from another realtor before I received your question, otherwise I would have been stumped.

The key to the snafu was the little apartment. It had a stove in it. Kitsap County code says that if there is a stove, there must be another leg to the drain field. Therefore, this drain field needed to be a five-bedroom system.

There is a new twist on who is watching our drain field status during escrow. Before a transaction can close, the seller must provide a reconveyance letter from Kitsap Public Health Department. They physically come to the home and check the drain field to make sure it is not compromised in any way.

Discussions with other brokers as of late have brought to our attention a recently noticed new trend. The appraiser and/or the lender’s underwriting departments are crossing a fictional line and making calls about the drain fields, ignoring our county codes.

One killed a deal over the studio above the garage, which had no stove, closets or beds because the rooms could be used as bedrooms. That is not what our code says. No closet, it is not considered a bedroom.

The key here is that one does not just add a leg to the drain field. The land and soils have to accommodate an additional leg; many times, they will not. So now, suddenly, a non-government entity is killing a real estate deal without just cause. (Read the code, peeps!)

The appraisers and underwriters are to protect the lender. Killing the transaction, though, when a violation of code has not happened is not in the best interest of anyone. (Please note, most appraisers and underwriters do an excellent job — thanks to them.)

The moral of this story is to know your drain field before you list. Make sure there are no stoves, beds or closets where they should not be located. That way, everything will go down as it should — pun intended.

— Jan Zufelt is an agent with John L. Scott Real Estate in Kingston. Email janzufelt@telebyte.com.

 

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