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Fosse septique - we are at an impasse

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[quote user="Patf"]
Like L'Oiseau we sold our french house last year, with an old nonconforming fosse. But which had worked fine for us all the time we were there.
"I suspect my (French) buyers, sensibly, will do nothing about replacing it until they are absolutely compelled to."
Same here.
But to the OP, yours sounds a bit more complicated. Especially the location of the fosse.

You need to weigh up the costs. If you like the place so much, that means a lot.
I guess a new fosse septique costs about 10,000 euro to install.


Depends on what's required, Pat.  Our old house needed a pump (we had the best, Flyght) and yards and yards of piping.  I think it cost us 11 000 euros in 2007.  I don't think you could install a similar for that price these days.

OTOH, the soil test mentioned by the OP was only about 170 euros and not the hundreds he's been quoted.

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Interestingly, a French friend has just sold her house to a Parisien family who intend to use it as a holiday home.

This is interesting because she had agreed a sale previously to the daughter and son in law of a mutual British friend. They subsequently pulled out of the sale, having knocked her down quite a bit on the price. The reason was that the fosse had been deemed inadequate. This in turn was purely because she's created two extra bedrooms in the roof space, and it was deemed that the fosse was thus too small. I have it on good authority that the Brits were secretly hoping she'd find it hard to sell the house and that at some future date they could come back with an even lower offer and secure the house.

Since then, she has had two offers, both from French buyers, and both at a much higher price. She has accepted one and signed the compromis.

It's a funny old world.

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Thanks all.

Yes I know about the cold. I’m from the north west. We also know what it’s like not to have local shops. We live rurally now.

You are right that every rural property in France will have a non conformity septic, I did smile at being told not to buy a house with a fosse. A town house is not for us.

Good advice to offer the asking price if they sort out the issue, I might try that!

Otherwise we’ll just move on and let another family move in. Lucky sods!

Thanks for the welcome, nice to be here!
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I know several people in the U.K. with septic tanks, and they barely know where they are located! No official has ever been to check them.

But these days the French seem obsessed with finding fault with them. Must make a nice lot of work for the installers...
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"I did smile at being told not to buy a house with a fosse. A town house is not for us"

When we lived rural, our house was connected to mains sewage. My OH's family house (very very rural) is connected to the mains sewage as well....or 'tout a l'egout' as they say.

We live in town now and our neighbours who built a brand new 1 million pound pad on the land opposite us and they have a fosse yet there is mains sewage on the street. Even in town sometimes you need a fosse.

A house 'tout a l'egout' will be easier to sell.

If you ever move rurally to France permanently, you will have to oneday move in town. The question is, can you sell the property to do so ? That is the second rule when buying a house in France. Make sure you can sell it.

With regards to the house, and the fact you like it so much, go and find a specialist so at least you have a definitive answer. I appreciate that is very hard to do in France.

If you give us the location the house we can google some options you.
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Cheers however the property is still listed so I’d rather not give it away as I’m still in contact with the vendor and agency.

Why would we need to move into town?

I fully understand that a house connected to the mains is much more desirable. We totally get what we’re taking on by looking at rural properties. My in-laws live on a farm in Lancashire and we live is a fairly isolated spot where a car is a must. My dad lives in a remote house in Orkney, so yeah we know what we’re getting into.

I think I’ll offer the asking price if the vendor can get the work done. If that is turned down then we’ll look elsewhere.

Thanks for all the help
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Good point, lehaut.  Even better if the land slopes downhill.  In the house I talked about earlier, the land unfortunately inclined upwards but it was still possible.  We needed a pump which incidentally never gave us any trouble.  It emptied itself when the contents reached a certain level.  Plus it passed the fosse inspection at the time of sale without a hitch.

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Well I just had a google about being predictable as I am.

Microstations cannot be installed in a maison secondaire. OK.

But reading this, there is a good alternative.....a 'filtre compact'.



They offer a free quote on there site...why not give it a go ?
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Another point - Some places offer a grant towards a new fosse. We were offered 5000 euro, the rest of the cost to us.

It may not apply for second homes though.
We didn't take up the offer as we had decided just to leave well alone.

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ALBF yeah, we’ve lived in France before (renting) and worked there, schooled the kids there, sorted our bills, insurance, etc so we an idea of exactly what we’re up against which is why it’s an idea to ask the vendor to sort it in return for the full asking price.

They can only say no.

And yes, I know they probably will say no. Pessimism is in my nature.
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I can't see that happening to be honest and personally I would want to manage the project myself so that it is done properly.

If the house in your eyes is a bargain, and you like it that much, dig under the road. Or certainly get a quote for doing so. Then knock off the cost. Just make sure your Mairie is ok with that.

How wide is the road ?
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UPDATE: agent called, said she’d found an English installer who sadly doesn’t do our region but has recommended this https://www.sotralentz-habitat.fr/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Actifiltre-V3-05-18.pdf

Costs about £8.5k and is SPANC approved. She gave us his number so we’ll give him a call. Meanwhile she’s trying to find installers of it in our region and someone who’s had it fitted.

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Hello Sherlocked,

My name is Ruth and I'm the assistant editor at French Property News magazine. I put your question to Arthur Cutler, of www.frenchplans.com, an Anglophone planning & design service in France. Here is his response. I hope it is useful. We would very much like to put an edited version of this question on our Ask the Experts pages in March French Property News. Would you be happy to be named at the bottom? If so, please email me at [email protected] with your name. If not, we will just say "Name supplied".

Thanks and best wishes, Ruth

Arthur Cutler, of French Plans, replies:

I fully understand your frustrations in this regard – it is not uncommon in France to receive no acknowledgement or replies to emails or letters, or even to ‘phone messages. The culture here is very different to the UK at times!

There are a number of things to consider with this situation:

You could make your offer to purchase subject to a condition suspensive that the current owner installs a new system prior to completion, and that the new installation receives a certificate of conformity. If the existing system doesn’t conform, then the problem will arise for any potential buyer, so it is in the vendor’s interests to find a solution too.

It is absolutely possible to install a Microstation – some are specifically developed for small spaces and for second homes, and they can be craned over object in order to allow installation (they are almost all plastic, so not heavy compared to concrete tanks). However, not all regional SPANC (environment agency responsible for controlling septic tank systems) officers will accept them, and it will also depend on whether there is anywhere for the treated effluent to flow to (for example, a ditch in the road adjacent to the property). Some SPANC officials insist on the effluent passing through a filter-bed of some sort prior to evacuation.

Before a new waste system can be installed it is necessary to produce an étude de sol (soil test and report on the proposed new system) for approval. Local specialist surveyors will have knowledge of soil conditions and what the regional SPANC office will accept. The fee quoted of 400 – 650 € is about average for this type of report and test, so unless you can push the vendor to pay for this, or install an approved system as part of the purchase agreement, you will have to pay it. The report will give a detailed soil study and recommend a suitable system that will be acceptable for a second home, and also acceptable to SPANC.

There is nothing to be gained at this stage by discussing it with contractors (installers) as you need to have the étude de sol first. Then you can give that to contractors to quote for the installation.

It is also possible to get agreement from the Mairie to partially dig up the road to allow for pipes, etc., to pass to another parcel of land, but you would either have to own that parcel, or get approval from whoever does in order to go down this route. You would of course also have to pay for the re-instatement of the road afterwards unless it could be achieved using a mechanical “mole” to burrow through from one side of the road to the other.

If your French skills are limited, then it would be a good idea to source a bilingual property manager or service provider in the area who can deal with it for you, though there will of course be fees to pay for that service.

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