Buying a house with a septic tank!

GoodyBurrett LLP serves rural and town clients alike and we get a large number of residential property transactions for houses that are not connected up to the mains sewerage systems and have to have independent options. 

The most popular are modern sewage treatment plant systems that attend to the waste and then produce a treated, clean water (suitable for discharging into nearby water courses or ditches). However, there are other options such as septic tanks which you are likely to find in an older property.

What is a sewage treatment system?

These are usually quite small systems, often located above ground, that will work quickly and odourlessly to attend to the household waste.  Some very modern solutions have panel displays to alert you straight away to issues within the system.

While ongoing maintenance and emptying is required it is needed much less frequently and is a much smaller job than with traditional systems like septic tanks.

As mentioned above, because the water produced by these types of systems is much cleaner there are fewer environmental issues to attend to and much less paperwork re: permits etc.

What is a septic tank?

It is a tank usually located underground that collects waste matter from the house and uses the natural bacteria within the waste to encourage decomposition. Any waste-water from the system needs an area to drain into, preferably a soak away or drainage field.   It will need regular maintenance and emptying which can easily be attended to by local specialists.

It is likely any septic tank will have been in situ for decades as the more modern options are more cost effective and space saving and appeal more to rural developers.

A septic tank is likely to require a permit and other formal paperwork to ensure that any emissions from the tank flow to a secure area.  This is important to ensure there is no compromise to local wildlife or beauty spot.


In many cases both septic tanks and sewerage systems are shared between households (i.e. neighbours) so it is important to be aware of the capacity and location of the system itself so maintenance can easily be arranged when required.

If you are looking to install a new system you may need planning permission and you will be building regulations. As referred to above depending on the system you may also need further environmental paperwork.

If you are looking to sell a property with an existing sewage system you must make sure you meet the General Binding Rules 2020 which are the regulations keeping track of the safety and cleanliness of the systems used in this way.

If you have any questions about buying or selling a house which is not connected to mains sewerage we will be more than happy to assist.  You can call us on 01206 577676 or pop us an email to [email protected]

If you would like any advice on buying / selling your house

Contact GoodyBurrett on 01206 577676 or email [email protected]