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Tricky Inspection question


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Hello all. I have a question about a project I am planning to convert a non-residential building into a residential. This is out in the mountains of North Carolina where people's adherence to permitting and inspection regulations are shaky at best. Basically the locals don't usually get permits if they can avoid it. The building was built 20 years ago (with no permits) as an office-type space next to an old cabin in the country. It is a well-made building and has electrical system, water lines (not currently connected to the supply) and the necessary rooms were framed when it was built. Basically two rooms originally built as storage areas would work as a bedroom and bathroom. So all I need to do work-wise to turn it into a cabin is plumb the bathroom and kitchen and hook it up to septic. My dad is a master plumber, so that's no sweat.

My issue is the septic. The septic system on the property (from before I bought it) was not permitted. It's only about five years old and can handle the additional capacity (according to the guy who built it), but a permit was not taken out. I want to hook my building into the system. I also want my structure to be permitted as a residence so it's above board and i can sell it as a residence if I want to. My question is, when the inspector comes to look over my dad's plumbing, is he going to stop inspecting at the point where the building's drain line meets the line to the septic, or is he going to trace is all the way to the septic tank and start asking questions? I don't want to replace a perfectly good septic system just because the guy before me didn't get a permit for it. I know there are no guarantees about what any inspector would do, but what is typically done? Thanks in advance for the help!

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In my area the local officials require that you obtain a permit for the area (basement etc) that you wish to obtain a retroactive permit. You then must hire a professional engineer to inspect the space and provide a letter of compliance to the current building code.

The space that you wish to permit must meet current code requirements. That might mean hard wired smoke/carbon monoxide detectors in and outside of all bedrooms, even those outside of the permitted area. Tamper proof receptacles and GFCI protection. It may be never ending depending on how tough your local building department wants to be.

Good luck and never ever underestimate the value of a few lunches at the local barbecue joint with a local official to discuss how you should proceed.

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Right, the only correct answer is the one you get from the official in your district.

In my area, you could get the septic tank and field inspected by a reputable contractor who installs septic systems. Then take that report to your building inspection department if they ask for one.

BTW, the system is only 5 years old? Sure he didn't just have it pumped 5 years ago because people will make stuff up when nothing is on paper and it is all underground. Pun. [:)]

The tank should be pumped out now.

Spend $350 and save the system by pumping the sludge out of the first tank. Every 3 to 5 years it should be pumped out. The tank should be empty for a proper inspection, so you get a guy that does both. You might want him to scope the drain lines if there is any sign of failure. If he doesn't have a pipe camera, hire someone that does.

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In my state private sewage disposal is state regulated and permitted through county health depts. Inspectors are called environmental specialists. Building depts require you give them documentation of your compliance with state/cty regs. Here septic systems are sized for residential by number of bedrooms (I suppose as a gauge of occupancy).

How far you have to go to meet residential code will be the local officials' call. In my state enforcement is very hit or miss.

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