Home Selling in Michigan>Question Details

readpaintdraw, Home Seller in Union, MI

Existing well, septic system, and composting toilet question

Asked by readpaintdraw, Union, MI Sat Oct 20, 2012

I bought a house six years ago. There was no problem getting the loan and no questions about well or septic. The garage was converted to a master bedroom, laundry room, and master bath. I couldn't afford a new septic system, so put a composting toilet in the MB, and had a grey water system for the washing machine, sink, and shower installed by a septic company. The composting toilet, rated for full-time use by 3-4 people, is self-contained and not part any system.
Now we are trying to sell the house and the health dept. says that the well is too close to the septic system - 45-48' instead of 50'. The septic company, bought out by new owners, says that the grey water system never met code, so now the buyers want the grey water plumbed into the septic tank 80-90' away. The health dept. says that everyone in the house could decide to use the other bathroom, so the septic system isn't big enough. What are the rules about composting toilets and existing septic systems and wells?

Help the community by answering this question:


As a Realtor, I do not know the answer but can can point you to some resources. The link below provides the Oakland County Sanitary Codes and another link about composting toilets.



Your question and dilemma is one that is a good lesson for people. The sanitary code is in place for builders and homeowners to follow to avoid contamination and potential health problems, thus the purpose of tank sizes, distance between water and sewer, and proper installation and maintenance.

Two important factors would be:

Home buyers should always obtain a home inspection, including a septic inspection when it is a private well and septic.

Home Owners should always pull permits when doing any home improvement to their home.

I am sorry I do not have the answer, let alone a solution that is not potentially a costly remedy. However, from a Realtor's perspective and how this affects the outcome of the sale of your home, this is a material issue that needs to be disclosed. Depending on the source of this information, another opinion could be sought to assure accuracy of the condition. The Oakland County health department may have records on file if the home was built in the last 20 years or so. If it is an older home, built prior to 1980, they may not be able to provide information, therefore, you are left to rely on well and septic inspectors to determine the condition. Although it is not a requirement in Oakland County, there are some counties that require inspections of these systems and certification of that passed inspection prior to selling the home. However, buyers should always have an inspection regardless of the requirements.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 21, 2012
The home is in Montcalm County, not Oakland. The frustrating part is that the well and septic are each 53 years old, and the water test shows that the water is perfect - no contamination at all. When I bought the home the health department said that there was no record of the location of either the well or the septic system, and nobody, mortgage co. or realtor, told me that I needed to be concerned. If they had, the people that sold me the house would have paid for what I'll probably get stuck paying for now!
Flag Sun Oct 21, 2012
Hi, the rules are going to be different for different regions. Your city, or county if you are unincorporated, is the first go-to stop or details. Here were I work most often, septic tanks need to be 100 feet from wells, whether the well is used or not. The size of a septic tank to meet code is usually determined by the number of bedrooms in a home, which gives some idea of the number of people who might be using the system. Get a good, local expert to help and check those city or county codes.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 20, 2012
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