Morse Engineering and Construction Industries

How to Get a Property Survey

Joseph Coupal - Friday, August 23, 2019
Morse Engineering and Construction - Septic System Inspection

Are you looking to put up a fence in your yard, but a survey may be required to show where the fence will be added. Is a property survey something you would have gotten when you bought the house?

You may not have received a property survey when you bought your home because they are not mandatory in every jurisdiction. Still, there's a pretty good chance one exists somewhere.

For the record, a property survey, often called a cadastral survey, serves to create a permanent record of property lines, easements and land placement. You've probably seen one of those hard-hat wearing people on the side of a road peering through a tripod-mounted compact telescope called a theodolite, which measures the vertical and horizontal angles on a property to provide the triangulation necessary to create a survey.

Oftentimes, lenders, title companies or both require a copy of a survey to close on a home purchase. If you can't find yours -- assuming you ever needed one for your transaction -- check to see if either entity has a copy on file. The local tax assessor or tax collector may also have one.

That's Not the Only Place to Look

Even if a survey was never conveyed to you, your local property records or engineering department may have one on file, albeit probably an older version. While such dated surveys are typically accurate on standard city lots, they can be wrong if you live on a former country parcel that's been altered for suburban development.

In case you're wondering, your HOA, in requesting a survey, wants to make sure your planned fence won't encroach on a neighboring property and conforms to its uniform standards such as no chain-link fences, no purple fences, etc. (In fact, be sure to get the type of fence you want approved by the HOA first; don't expect your fence company to know the rules and regulations or to get HOA approval for you.)

How to Get a New Property Survey

There's an outside chance you'll need to have a new survey drawn and if that's so, contact a local engineering firm like Morse Engineering and Construction. A surveyor should be able to examine your deed and its property description, as well as any remaining property markers such as iron pins and small monuments to draw a new one. While there's plenty of advice online about how to draw your own survey, most HOAs and organizations requesting one will want to see a professional version.

For more information, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.

Fox Business


Options if the Septic System Fails?

Joseph Coupal - Friday, August 16, 2019
Morse Engineering and Construction - Septic System Inspection

Seller’s options

If you’re the seller, although the expense is great — generally tens of thousands of dollars — you will likely want to replace the private septic system prior to marketing the property. Marketing a property with a passing Title 5 should lead to a much quicker and less complicated sale than using a “wait and see” approach. Not to mention it’s good to get the distraction of the construction mess, inspections and document recording out of the way when you’re planning your move. A passing Title 5 report is good for two years.

There’s a Massachusetts tax credit available for repair or replacement of a failed septic system for Massachusetts residential property owners. A maximum credit of $1,500 per year may be taken over four years, up to a total credit of $6,000.

Buyer’s options

Perhaps an FHA 203k loan or other construction loan should be considered. These loans, however, may come with a higher interest rate than conventional loan products. Recently quoted rates for a 30-year fixed-rate construction loan was 5.5 percent.

You may be able to obtain a conventional loan if the seller can put funds for the repair or replacement in an escrow holdback account. Funds for this generally need to be 1.5 times the estimated cost. Not all lenders offer escrow holdbacks, and if they do, they may only allow them seasonally during winter months.

If you’re able to pay cold, hard cash for the property, a failed septic system still needs to be repaired or replaced within two years but is often still usable, depending on the type of failure. Be advised: The system will be unusable for a part of the day that the sewage pipe from the home is connected to the new septic tank (or tanks).

It’s best to research Title 5 prior to selling or buying a home. For more information, one good resource is the state’s own consumer fact sheet for septic system repairs and inspections. You can also contact your local board of health. For more information, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.

bostonagentmagazine.com


Planning a Septic System with New Construction

Joseph Coupal - Friday, August 09, 2019
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries - Septic System Construction Fiskdale, MA

If this is the year you plan to build on your lot, it’s important to consider every aspect of the construction process. If your property isn’t served by a municipal sewer line, for instance, you’ll need to know how to plan for a septic system. Fortunately, there are many advantages of a private septic system, and understanding how these systems work, as well as how to facilitate their installation will make building on your lot go much more smoothly.

Septic systems are environmentally friendly, because they provide homeowners with a simple solution for onsite wastewater treatment. By doing so, they reduce the risk of raw sewage discharge from treatment plants and contamination of groundwater by aging sewer lines. Further, by allowing water to seep into the ground and recharging groundwater onsite, they replenish your home’s clean water supply while helping plants to grow on your property.

Before you build on your lot, contact your city officials to ask about the regulations that pertain to the installation of a septic system. In this way, you’ll be able to learn the requirements for the size of the tank, material from which it is constructed, soil composition, and where the tank should be placed. This should be one of your first steps in building on your lot, because you’ll need to know the minimum distance required from neighboring property lines, your house, and water sources.

Once you’ve determined the regulations, contact the local utility companies, so that they can come out and indicate any lines or pipes you’ll need to avoid when you build on your lot. This is also the right time to schedule appointments with surveyors and inspectors, to make sure you’ve obtained the proper permissions necessary. When you begin to build on your lot, you’ll want to make sure that everything is in order and being handled correctly.

Enlist the help of professionals to install your septic system. A company like Palm Harbor Homes, with experience building in your area, can put you in touch with the right contractors who know how to get your lot move-in ready. When it comes to something as important as installing a septic system, you want to know that you’re working with someone you can trust.

When you’re ready to build on your lot, Palm Harbor Homes can help! Customized to meet your family’s needs, Palm Harbor Homes are built under the highest standards and can be assembled on your property in a matter of weeks by professionals who know how to properly plan for construction. Visit the website to learn more, or connect with the online community on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.

Source: palmharbor.com


Why You Need to Inspect Your Septic System

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries, LLC - Septic System in Sturbridge, Fiskdale, MA

Failing septic systems and cesspools can contaminate drinking water, shellfish beds, and beaches. Title 5 of the State Environmental Code protects us by requiring inspection of private sewage disposal systems. Local boards of health receive these inspection reports. Most systems will pass inspection. Title 5 requires the replacement or upgrade of systems that fail.

If you own a home with a septic system or cesspool and plan to put it up for sale, add a bedroom, or change its use, you will need to get a system inspection. This information will help you make the right decisions about who to hire and how to finance repairs.

You'd Better Shop Around

When you need to hire a system inspector, there are two important things to remember:

  1. MassDEP does not regulate inspection fees, nor does any other state agency. Inspectors can charge whatever their customers are willing to pay. The fee also may vary depending on the complexity of the inspection.
  2. Only certain professionals may perform Title 5 system inspections:
    • Professionals who meet experience requirements and have passed a MassDEP-administered exam;
    • Registered Sanitarians;
    • Certified Health Officers; and
    • Registered Professional Engineers who specialize in civil, environmental or sanitary engineering.

Before hiring anyone, do some comparison shopping:

  • Get written estimates from several inspectors. Ask them whether the price of the inspection includes pumping the system; often it does not.
  • Ask for and check each inspector's identification and references.
  • Before signing a contract, be certain that it spells out the work plan, the cost and payment terms, and any guarantees the inspector is willing to provide.
  • Once the inspection is complete, make sure the person who signs the form is the same person who conducted the inspection.

For more information, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.

Source: mass.gov


Four Options for Septic Systems When Building a House

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, July 18, 2019
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries - Septic System Construction

To plan your ideal home and watch it come into being is a pretty amazing process. And there’s probably nothing like the topic of sewage to burst that happy bubble where you daydream about your new home.

Buzzkill or not, building a house in rural New England often means a private septic system might form a crucial part of your new home reality. You won’t just be making decisions about laminate vs. hardwood flooring or what color the exterior of your house should be. You’re going to have to deal with something that sounds nasty even to just say it aloud: effluence.

Let’s make sure we even know what a septic system is. The main objective of a septic system is to remove waste from the house, disperse effluence into the ground, and then let nature take over the job of “treating” the water. That is, filtering the liquid waste through soil, sand, and gravel and returning it into the aquifer from which it originated.

Very early on in the construction of your home, a general contractor will talk to you about what kind of septic system your property will need. The best system will depend on a combination of factors, such as how many people live in the house and the soil composition and soil depth of your land.

In most cases, though, your septic choice will be among a set of four standard options.

Gravity Fed: In this passive system, waste leaves the house through a pipe, which is connected to a fiberglass or concrete tank. Inside the tank, naturally occurring bacteria break down the solids contained in the incoming waste. Eventually, as more sewage comes into the tank, gravity forces the old sewage out. It is dispersed through a series of perforated pipes that are buried in gravel-filled trenches several feet under the ground.

Pressure Distribution: This system is similar to the gravity fed system, except that it includes a pump. Instead of waste gradually ending up in the drain field (or leach field), the pump periodically floods the drain field with effluence.

Sand Filter: This system also uses pumps, but instead of the waste being pumped directly into the soil, it is first dispersed through a series of pressurized lines placed atop a bed of gravel. From there, the effluence trickles down through what is, essentially, a box of sand. The sand treats the wastewater, which collects in a drain under gravel and is then moved into a second pump chamber before being pumped into a drain field.

Mound: In this system, pumps disperse effluence into a sand- and gravel-filled bed that is constructed above the natural surface of the ground.

It’s details like this that can make the difference between a house that’s easy to maintain and one that requires far more attention far more frequently. For more information on other important aspects of building a house, check out our blog on construction terms you need to know!

For more information, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.

insight.mascomabank.com


Options if Your Site Fails a Perc Test

Joseph Coupal - Friday, July 12, 2019
Percolation Testing

Even if your site fails a perc or deep-hole test, all is not lost. For sites with high water tables, you may be able to “de-water” the leaching area by strategically placing gravel-filled trenches and subsurface drain pipe to conduct water away from the drain field. You’ll need a highly experienced earthwork contractor, and possibly the help of a civil engineer or geotechnical engineer, to make this work.

Also, a wide range of alternative septic systems have been developed in recent years for use on almost any type of site. Find out which systems are approved for use in your area and which might be suitable for your site. In general, these systems cost more and many require pumps, alarms, and other components that require more monitoring and maintenance than a standard septic system. As these become more common and more widely accepted, formerly unbuildable lots may all of a sudden become approved building lots. As with all new building technology, however, look at products and systems with a proven track record in the field.

For more information, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.

Source: buildingadvisor.com


Failed Perc Test Means No House Can Be Built

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, June 27, 2019
Morse Engineering and Construction - Percolation Testing

On rural sites without municipal sewage systems, a failed perc test means that no house can be built – which is why you should make any offer to purchase land contingent on the site passing the soil and perc tests. As prime building sites become increasingly scarce (or prohibitively expensive) in many parts of the country, rural sites that will not pass a percolation or perc test are increasingly common.

In general, soils with high sand and gravel content drain the best and soils with a high clay content or solid rock are the worst. Most soils fall somewhere in the middle with a mix of course sand and gravel particles, small silt particles, and miniscule clay particles – the smallest.

To get a rough idea before investing time and money in testing, dig below the top few inches of topsoil (loam) to the lighter soil beneath and grab a handful. If the soil has a sticky, damp texture, and you can form a small lump of damp subsoil into a long, thin ribbon or worm shape that holds together, then the soil has significant clay content.

If you can form a ribbon of soil 2 in. or longer in the ribbon test, it indicates that the soil has high clay content and may fail a standard perc test.

The two main tests used to determine a site’s suitability for a septic system are a perc test and visual observation of the soil in a test pit, sometimes referred to as a deep hole test. Testing requirements vary greatly from state to state and often from town to town, as most states allow individual towns to establish separate rules within state guidelines.

Make sure you talk to your town health officer about what tests are needed, when they can be done, and who should perform them. Whether or not a licensed professional is required, it’s a good idea to hire a seasoned expert with local experience as many of these tests have a bit of wiggle room.

For more information, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.

Source: buildingadvisor.com


How To Inspect A Septic System

Joseph Coupal - Friday, June 21, 2019
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries, LLC - Septic System in Sturbridge, Fiskdale, MA

Q: I’m looking to buy a property that has an existing structure that hasn’t been used in 12-plus years. It has well and septic but the status and placement of the septic system is unknown.

Should I ask for a percentage test or deep-hole test prior to closing? Is there anything thing else I should consider as a contingency? The building was used as a business and residence previously.

A: A well-designed and maintained conventional septic system should provide 20 to 30 years of service before the drain field needs to be replaced. A lightly used system could last a lot longer.

There is no foolproof way to determine how many years of life you can expect from a functioning system, but a thorough inspection can determine whether the system is currently working properly. If not, you can identify what type of immediate repairs and improvements are needed to fix the system and bring it up to current standards. Since a complete new system can cost several thousand dollars, and an “alternative” system can cost over $20,000, hiring a professional to inspect the would be money well spent.

The first step is to find out as much as you can from the previous owner and the local health department. Ask:

  • When was the system installed?
  • Was the system properly designed, permitted, and inspected by the town or county?
  • How often was the septic tank pumped?
  • Does the health department have an “as-built” plan on file that would show the design and location of the components?

Also ask the local health department what type of inspection and/or upgrade might be required by the town upon transfer of title. Some jurisdictions require that all septic systems be brought up the current building codes when the property is sold. In some cases, this can mean building a new system from scratch. In that case, a perc test’ or “perk test and deep-hole test are in order to determine the soil conditions and seasonal high water table.

Assuming that the current system can be reused, your preliminary research will give you a better idea of the age and condition of the system, as well as its location on the site. A visual inspection of the site can sometimes identify obvious problems such as trees or traffic over the leach field or wet, smelly soil over a failed leach field. However, a system no used for 12 years would not provide such obvious clues.

A professional inspector can examine the septic tank for leakage of groundwater into the tank or leakage out of the tank, both of which can cause problems. If a 12-year-old tank is filled to the top, it may signal leakage from the exterior. If it is bone dry, it may indicate leakage out from the bottom.

Steel tanks, in particular, are vulnerable due to damage from rust. Lids can rust out creating a dangerous hazard. WARNING: Be especially careful when inspecting an old septic tank or cesspool as the cover can be rusted out or deteriorated and can collapse under your weight. Falling in can be fatal.

Other steel components, such as baffles, can be inspected for rust. The inspector may also recommend excavating and examining the distribution box. The septic tank, distribution box, and piping between components may have shifted over the years and pipes may have broken loose leading to leakage of untreated effluent into the soil. A thorough inspection can identify these problems.

Finally, a loading and dye test might be useful, but these tests are less reliable for an system that has been unused for a year or more. Since the soil around and under the leach pits has had time to dry out, it many readily absorb the dyed water during the test, but the system may fail once the leach field is active again. However, the test can provide critical information about blockages from roots or broken or disconnected pipes.

For more information, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.

Source: buildingadvisor.com


Perc Testing and Soil

Joseph Coupal - Friday, June 14, 2019
Percolation Testing

Traditional septic systems only work if the soil in the leach area is sufficiently permeable that it can readily absorb the liquid effluent flowing into it. Also, there must be at least a few feet of good soil from the bottom of the leach pipes to the rock or impervious hardpan below, or to the water table.

Less commonly, a site can fail because the soil is too permeable, allowing the effluent to reach the groundwater before it is fully treated. Very steep slopes are also unsuitable for a conventional leach field.

The specific standards vary from town to town, but any of these characteristics can prohibit the use of a standard gravity-fed septic system. In some cases, a more expensive alternative septic system may be allowed. To determine is a building site is suitable for a septic system, a percolation test (typically called a “perc test’ or “perk test”) is required. NO PERC, NO HOUSE h3

On rural sites without municipal sewage systems, a failed perc test means that no house can be built – which is why you should make any offer to purchase land contingent on the site passing the soil and perc tests. As prime building sites become increasingly scarce (or prohibitively expensive) in many parts of the country, rural sites that will not pass a percolation or perc test are increasingly common.

In general, soils with high sand and gravel content drain the best and soils with a high clay content or solid rock are the worst. Most soils fall somewhere in the middle with a mix of course sand and gravel particles, small silt particles, and miniscule clay particles – the smallest.

Squeezing the wet soil into a thin ribbon can provide a quick indication of clay content.

If you can form a long, thin ribbon of wet soil, it has a high clay content and my fail the perc test.

To get a rough idea before investing time and money in testing, dig below the top few inches of topsoil (loam) to the lighter soil beneath and grab a handful. If the soil has a sticky, damp texture, and you can form a small lump of damp subsoil into a long, thin ribbon or worm shape that holds together, then the soil has significant clay content.

The two main tests used to determine a site’s suitability for a septic system are a perc test and visual observation of the soil in a test pit, sometimes referred to as a deep hole test. Testing requirements vary greatly from state to state and often from town to town, as most states allow individual towns to establish separate rules within state guidelines.

So make sure you talk to your town health officer about what tests are needed, when they can be done, and who should perform them. Whether or not a licensed professional is required, it’s a good idea to hire a seasoned expert with local experience as many of these tests have a bit of wiggle room.

For more information, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.

buildingadvisor.com


Septic System Inspections

Joseph Coupal - Friday, June 07, 2019
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries - Septic System Construction Fiskdale, MA

A septic system receives, treats and disposes of unwanted wastewater and solids from a building’s plumbing system. Solids are partially broken down into sludge within a septic tank and are separated from effluent (water) and scum (fat, oil and grease). Effluent regularly exits the tank into a drainfield where it is naturally filtered by bacteria and reentered into the groundwater. Scum and sludge must be pumped periodically and should never enter the drainfield.

When should a septic system be inspected?

The septic system should be inspected once a year, including as soon as the house is put on the market for sale. This will enhance the home’s value and avoid any liability issues that might result from a malfunctioning system. It is in the interest of a prospective buyer to insist that the septic system be inspected before they purchase the home if it has not been done recently.

For more information on septic system inspections, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.

Source: nachi.org