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Installing Fosse Septic


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Can anyone help me with some clear advice on the regulations regarding the installation of a fosse septic?  I am selling an old property which was originally built about 200 years ago as an industrial workshop.  There are no mains drains and no fosse septic or cesse pit.  We are informed by our neighbour (who has the same type of property) that the drainage is provided by a filtration system made of rocks and stones underground.  We don't actually know where this is and neither did the people we bought from.  The system sounds archaic, but I have to say we've never had any problems with bad smells, blockages or evidence of waste appearing anywhere it shouldn't.  In fact it seems to work a darn sight better than the 'modern' drainage systems we had at various houses in the UK!

Anyway, to get to the point - I heard yesterday that vendors of houses are obliged to bring their drainage systems up to date with current EU regulations regarding fosse septiques.  Can anyone tell me what exactly my legal obligations are and the best way to go about fulfilling them? 

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There's a lot of basic info' about fosses here


Somebody will correct me if I am wrong but I think I read somewhere that new/upcoming regulations state that in fact all the vendor is obliged to do is to declare that the drainage system is not up to current standards - but not that they are obliged to bring it up to date.

The inspections which are apparently to be carried out throughout the country to ensure that all systems comply don't seem to be happening all that quickly.  To budget for a new one is the safe bet - you'll probably have to do it sooner or later.

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We bought our old place two years ago when its "facilities" were bizarre to say the least!   We had a septique of sorts which was a basic big plastic bottle thing buried in the barn, but the Immo was at pains to tell us that whilst we had a septique, this was certainly not going to be acceptable for all the new rules & regs that are now in force.   In other words - we had to have a new system installed which was acceptable and certified as such.  Furthermore, I am told that the Mairie are checking on properties to ensure that they have adequate provision for the new regs so whilst you are in uproar its as well to get it all done at the start.

Our lovely, helpful (and now good friend) the Immo said that she knew of someone who could be trusted to do this for us, he gave us a devis, we accepted and on the appointed date he showed up with his bulldozer to begin the rotten job of removing the old and in with the new.   Basically what we have is a series of tanks which sounds similar to your old system.   The stuff rolls into the first where it is mashed up before being filtered, on into the next one for more cleansing, into the final one some way down the field, thence out of a small unobtrusive pipe into the ditch in the lane.   Monsier says that the water coming out of the end pipe is "Better than Evian" - not sure I wish to test this theory though!

Initially we had a few teething probems because the pump kept shorting-out part of our electrics in the house, but Monsieur came back with some taller concrete collars for the manhole covers on the tanks which stopped excess ground water getting in to blow the fuses and we have had no problems since.   Maintenance invoves chucking in a packet of some bacterial stuff every six months or so - not anything like baling out poo! yuk.

In answer then, check locally with the Mairie or the immo.  They probably  have some recommendations for someone trustworthy to carry out this job for you, then ask them for advice as to what system is best for your old place. 

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Hi Kate

From the description, your neighbour could be talking about a puisard (drywell, US cesspool) which was a common way of evacuating soiled water in the "olden days".

We have an old one (no longer in use) at the back of the house, which was apparently a disused well into which a lot of rocks were tipped. The idea was to allow the liquid waste to filter away into the ground whilst the solids would be "caught" by the rocks and allowed to rot away over time.

From what I know and what I have read on this forum (and I migh be wrong), I don't think there is any obligation on the vendor to install an up-to-date system, but he must declare what type of installation exists.

[quote]s’il n’y a pas de réseau public

mais qu’il existe une installation d’assainissement privée, par exemple

une fosse septique, il sera demandé au vendeur de de donner toutes

précisions quant à l’existence de cette installation d’assainissement

individuel (nature ; incidents éventuels de fonctionnement ; travaux de

maintenance ou d’amélioration à envisager ou déjà effectués,

factures...) ainsi que de de préciser si cette installation a fait

l’objet d’un ou de plusieurs contrôles techniques et dans l’affirmative

de communiquer les rapports établis par le service communal. (http://www.jurisprudentes.org/)

quick translation: if

there is no public drainage but there is a private drainage, for example a septic tank, the vendor will be asked specify the existence

of this installation and its details (natural; possible

incidents of operation; work of maintenance or improvement to be

considered or already carried out, invoices…) and to to specify if this

installation has been subject to one or several inspections and

in the affirmative to communicate the reports established by the

communal service.[/quote]

Of course, the buyer would be justified in making a much lower offer for the property if there was no drainage system in place, as he would have to comply with existing regulation.

This page, although dated, will give you an idea of what an individual system can be like: http://www.ademe.fr/partenaires/Boues/Pages/f12.htm

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