Morse Engineering and Construction Industries

Single Family Housing Repair Loans & Grants in Massachusetts

- Friday, June 18, 2021
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries

What does this program do?

Also known as the Section 504 Home Repair program, this provides loans to very-low-income homeowners to repair, improve or modernize their homes or grants to elderly very-low-income homeowners to remove health and safety hazards.

Who may apply for this program?

To qualify, you must:

  • Be the homeowner and occupy the house
  • Be unable to obtain affordable credit elsewhere
  • Have a family income below 50 percent of the area median income 
  • For grants, be age 62 or older and not be able to repay a repair loan

What is an eligible area?

Applicants may check the address of their home to determine eligibility.

How may funds be used?

  • Loans may be used to repair, improve or modernize homes or remove health and safety hazards
  • Grants must be used to remove health and safety hazards

How much money can I get?

  • Maximum loan is $20,000
  • Maximum grant is $7,500
  • Loans and grants can be combined for up to $27,500 in assistance

    What are the terms of the loan or grant?

    • Loans can be repaid over 20 years
    • Loan interest rate is fixed at 1%
    • Full title service is required for loans of $7,500 or more
    • Grants have a lifetime limit of $7,500
    • Grants must be repaid if the property is sold in less than 3 years
    • If applicants can repay part, but not all of the costs, applicants may be offered a loan and grant combination

    Is there a deadline to apply?

      Applications for this program are accepted through your local RD office year round

    How long does an application take?

  • Approval times depend on funding availability in your area. Talk to a USDA home loan specialist in your area for help with the application

    Who can answer questions and how do I get started?

  • Contact a USDA home loan specialist in your area

    What governs this program?

    • The Housing Act of 1949 as amended, 7 CFR Part 3550
    • HB-1-3550 - Direct Single Family Housing Loans and Grants Field Office Handbook

    Why does USDA Rural Development do this?

    • Helping people stay in their own home and keep it in good repair helps families and their communities. Homeownership helps families and individuals build savings over time. It strengthens communities and helps many kinds of businesses that support the local economy.

    For more information, click here

  • Septic System Inspections and Repairs Consumer Protection Tips

    - Friday, June 11, 2021
    Morse Engineering and Construction - Septic System Inspection

    If you need to hire someone to inspect or repair your septic system, this guide will help you make informed decisions.

    Why You Need to Inspect Your Septic System

    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.

    For a list of qualified system inspectors in your area, contact your local Board of Health. You can also see lists of approved system inspectors on the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control website.

    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 information or to make an appointment, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.


    Replacing The Septic: When It May Not Be Worth It

    - Thursday, June 03, 2021
    Morse Engineering and Construction Industries - Replacing Septic System

    If the leach field itself has failed, the entire septic system may need to be moved to a different location on the property.

    In that case, a septic technician will survey the property for system requirements such as a location relative to any water sources. You’ll also have to get a soil evaluation, which runs about $1,500. Soil technicians will be looking at soil type and slope of the property.

    Then a septic contractor will determine if the lot is large enough to accommodate a new drain field. Many existing systems are even with ground level, but new codes may no longer allow this and require unattractive remedies. So if there’s no place with appropriate soil to move the septic to, the homeowner may be forced to install what’s called a sand mound system (a literal mound of sand) or a holding tank system. The former is unsightly, and the latter could require monthly pump-outs.

    Keep in mind, a failed system could also have contaminated the soil around its original location, so do soil tests for potential ground contamination at the old site.

    For information or to make an appointment, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.


    Can You Repair a Failing Septic System?

    - Thursday, May 20, 2021
    Morse Engineering and Construction - Failing Septic System

    Before you jump to any conclusions about your septic system, hire a plumber with a speciality in septic to come assess yours. The plumber will look for any of these common issues, and can determine whether your system is salvageable. It could be that:

    You’ve neglected to maintain the system.

    Homeowners should regularly hire a professional to inspect and pump the septic system, every three to five years. If you can’t remember the last time you had your system serviced, poor maintenance might be the culprit.

    How to fix it:

    Hire a professional to pump and thoroughly clean your septic system to reverse its failure. The cost to clean a system varies based on tank size, but it will generally cost between $295 and $610. If a deep clean doesn’t do the trick, sometimes replacing the baffle, the component that prevents scum buildup in the tank, can help. However, this likely won’t work if the system’s been grossly neglected.

    Too much water is rushing your septic system at once.

    Septic system tanks are designed to manage water based on the size of the home. So, when your water use exceeds capacity, the system can’t handle it. This can cause wastewater to back up into your pipes, drains, the home itself, or the surrounding property.

    How to fix it:

    Pump and clean the system, as recommended above. However, if the septic system is too small for your home, you might have to consider a full replacement (more on that below) to increase its capacity.

    Tree roots or other outdoor landscaping has damaged the system.

    Tree roots seeking moisture and nutrients or certain paving materials in the wrong place can unintentionally damage your septic system. Roots may grow into the system, or even just grow nearby, and as a result crush and damage components of the system directly or indirectly compact the soil around the system, preventing proper discharge or damaging pipes. Installing a paved driveway or car park too close to the drain field can yield similar damage.

    How to fix it:

    Depending on what component is damaged, there’s a chance of repair.

    Your septic tank was never installed correctly.

    If a septic tank was improperly installed, there’s little to keep it from failing. It might be the wrong size, in a bad location, or not watertight.

    How to fix it:

    You might choose to replace the drain or leach field to prevent further failure. Replacing the field entails digging up your septic system and placing it in a new, uncontaminated field on your property. However, this solution only works if the septic tank is in good condition and can be repurposed.

    Depending on the condition of your septic system, you may be able to fix it with one of these repairs. You won’t know what’s wrong with it until a professional starts to dig in. However, a repair is oftentimes preferable to replacement, in terms of price and the scope of work required.

    For information or to make an appointment, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.


    Is Your Septic System Beyond Repair?

    - Thursday, May 13, 2021
    Morse Engineering and Construction - Septic System

    A is one that can no longer treat or distribute the wastewater. You may be dealing with backed-up pipes and drains or a flooded field. This poses a health risk to you and your surrounding community. A may lead to contaminated groundwater, unhealthy drinking water, and an increased chance of bacteria and contaminants in the area.

    Signs of a failed septic system may include, but aren’t limited to:

    • Slow flushing toilets, or backed-up drains.
    • Water and/or sewage backing up into the home through toilets, sinks, and drains.
    • Standing water near the tank or around the drain field.
    • Sewage smells near the tank.
    • Green, springy grass growing rapidly around the tank. Brown, or nearly dead grass, over the tank is often the sign of a healthy septic system (ironically enough!)

    If more than one of the above issues occur, it’s likely that your septic system has failed. That means not only is your system posing a health hazard, but standing water in your home and on your property is at risk of additional damage.

    For information or to make an appointment, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.


    Inspecting your Septic System

    - Thursday, May 06, 2021
    Morse Engineering and Construction - Septic System Inspection

    To prevent your system from getting to the point of failure, the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors recommends annual septic system inspections, in addition to an inspection once the home is on the market.

    If you have an offer on your home, you might be required to get a septic tank inspection before closing. Some mortgage companies insist on the septic inspection. If it’s not the mortgage company requiring an inspection, it might be your state or local government. Consult with your real estate agent to make sure you’re not evading any local septic laws.

    Depending on the inspection process, you might have two professionals take a look at the system. First, a home inspector might request to take a look at the system while on your property. Typically, this is a cursory glance but not a comprehensive review. Secondly, you might be required to conduct a specialty septic inspection. A professional septic inspection runs between $100-$250 and should take under three hours.

    For information or to make an appointment, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.


    Buying or Selling a House with a Septic System

    - Wednesday, April 28, 2021
    Morse Engineering and Construction Industries - Septic System

    Selling a House with a Septic System

    To find out if you need to have a septic inspection before a sale, check with your county's health department. Completing your own pre-inspection can also help you identify any issues.

    If the seller knows of any issues with the septic system , the law requires them to disclose it to the buyer. If the seller doesn't disclose the information and the buyer finds out, a pricey lawsuit could be in order.

    Sellers and buyers alike wonder whose responsibility it is to repair a damaged septic system. It typically falls on the seller's shoulders to repair the septic system, but you can negotiate costs as part of the deal.

    Buying a House with a Septic System

    If you are purchasing a house with a septic system, you'll want to know the answers to a few questions:

    How old is the house?

    • When was the septic tank last inspected and pumped?
    • Have you had any back-ups or standing water issues over the septic tank?
    • Have there been any repairs on the septic tank?
    • You'll also want to make sure a third-party inspector completes a thorough inspection. It may be tempting to get an inspector that will go through the inspection quickly and sign off with a gold star. But that could result in you purchasing a house with a bunch of problems down the road.

    Septic systems are highly efficient, as long as you maintain them properly. Do your due diligence by getting regular, professional septic inspections and pumping your septic system regularly. You can also maintain it by not putting any non-biodegradable or hazardous chemicals down your drain.

    For information or to make an appointment, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.


    How Long do Septic Systems Last?

    - Thursday, April 22, 2021
    Morse Engineering and Construction -  Sepic System

    Septic systems can last up to 25 years — or indefinitely in rare cases. It completely depends on the maintenance of the system. If you get regular inspections and make repairs as needed, your concrete septic tank can last longer than a lifetime.

    Should I repair or replace my septic system?

    Here are a few things to look out for.

    Puddles in Your Yard

    If there is standing water in your yard over your septic system, it's a good idea to get an inspector over there to check it out. Make sure to keep yourself and your animals away from the water, as it could be toxic.

    Backups h4

    If you are experiencing a high level of plumbing backups, it's a sign that something is wrong with your septic system. It could be something as easy as a tiny repair, or as extensive as a tank replacement. Either way, you need an inspector to figure that out.

    Healthy Grass

    If your grass is greener over your septic area than it is in other parts of your yard, it's time to check your septic system. When a septic system begins to fail, it puts more water out into the ground which can enrich your plant life but can be dangerous for people.

    Results of an Inspection

    If your inspection turns up contaminated well water or irreparable damage to the septic tank itself, you will probably need a new system.

    How to Maintain Your Septic System

    You can make sure your septic system lasts longer by making sure to never flush tampons, paper towels, baby wipes, or really any foreign objects that cannot break down easily in your septic system.

    Use a garbage disposal, if you have one, to help break down any food that will clog the pipes. Make sure you never put grease down the sink, as that can clog up the septic tank.

    Find a laundry detergent that's safe for septic systems as well.

    Small amounts of bleach are okay to have in your septic tank, but never flush medication, anti-freeze or harmful chemicals, as they damage the bacteria in your septic system which creates issues down the road.

    If you have a sump pump, make sure that it is not hooked up to the septic system. Sump pumps put too much water into the septic system which can have adverse effects on how it breaks down the waste.

    For information or to make an appointment, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.


    Septic Inspections before Buying a Home

    - Friday, April 16, 2021
    Morse Engineering and Construction - Septic Inspections before Buying a Home

    Before purchasing a house, prospective buyers usually hire an inspector to complete an home inspection. The inspection often includes inspecting the structure of the house and checking for any pests. One of the most important aspects of the house is the .

    Septic inspections are crucial for your health and that of anyone else living in your home, so homeowners should make sure to schedule them regularly. However, because septic systems are buried in the ground, they're often the last thing on many homeowners' minds — until something goes wrong.

    Here's everything that you'll want to know about your septic inspection when you are looking to buy or sell your house.

    How often should you get a septic inspection?

    You should get your septic tank inspected at least every three to five years. The inspection usually lands around the time that you should also have a professional septic tank pumping service pump the tank. Pumping the septic tank is necessary to keep your septic tank healthy and in satisfactory working order.

    Despite what experts recommend, many homeowners wait much longer than five years to have their septic tank inspected. Many wait until something goes wrong to have the septic inspectors over. At that point, inspectors will often recommend you repair or replace your septic system, which can cost thousands of dollars.

    Getting a regular inspection and pumping will not only save you money from needing a major repair, but it will also help deter any unwanted surprises if you decide to sell your house later.

    How is a septic inspection done?

    There are two types of septic inspections.

    Visual Inspections

    When buying or selling a house, the home inspector will usually complete a visual inspection.

    A visual inspection involves asking a few questions, such as how old the house is, how often the owner pumps the septic system, and when the last inspection was. The inspector will then flush all the toilets and run all the water in the house to make sure the water pressure is up to par and everything is draining properly. Finally, the inspector will go out to the drain field to make sure there is no standing water, which can indicate a cesspool.

    A visual inspection is helpful and quick, but a full inspection can really tell you the real story behind the health of the septic system.

    Full Inspections

    A full inspection includes everything a visual inspection includes, but it also goes the extra mile. This inspection is the one you'll want to get done every three to five years.

    In a full inspection, inspectors will remove the cover to the septic tank and check the water level. The water level can or show whether the water is draining properly. The inspector will then run water in the house to make sure it is properly flowing from the house to the septic tank, and to make sure the water level within the tank does not rise when they introduce more water.

    The inspector may use a dye test during this part of their inspection. In a dye test, the inspector will introduce dye into the water that is being drained to see how much of it enters the septic tank.

    From there, the septic tank will get pumped and the inspector will check for any backflow from the absorption area. The backflow level tells the inspector if there is a problem with your drain field. The flow level is then checked again to make sure every aspect of the septic system is in working order and there are no blockages.

    How much do septic inspections cost?

    Septic inspection costs vary depending on the detail with which they inspect the tank and the size of the tank, but for a 1,000-1,500 gallon tank, a full inspection typically runs between $300 and $600. .

    Keep in mind that the cost may vary based on the person or company inspecting your septic system. Qualified inspectors will have licenses in several areas through their state and on a national level.

    For information or to make an appointment, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.

    Is the Seller Obligated to Fix any Septic Problems?

    - Friday, April 09, 2021
    Morse Engineering and Construction Industries, LLC - Septic System in Sturbridge, Fiskdale, MA

    The responsibility to pay for septic repairs typically falls to the seller. However, repairs of any kind found at inspection are generally negotiable. Contract terms usually dictate the course of action, but sellers may have such options as doing the repairs themselves, splitting repair costs with the buyer, giving the buyer a closing credit equal to the amount of the repairs, or refusing to do anything. If an agreement on repairs isn't reached, the buyer does have the legal right to walk away from the transaction.

    Don't forget about disclosure

    In all states, sellers are required to disclose any known problems with a home to potential buyers. If there's a septic issue after closing that the sellers knew about, they will be liable for the entire cost of the repairs.

    For that reason, it's good practice for all sellers to perform their own septic system inspection. That way, the seller is protected from any future septic issues after the closing.

    For information or to make an appointment, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.