Septic tank needs updating

(Teresa Shipley) #1


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Last year we bought a house near Brantome in the Dordogne. The septic tank did not conform and we were given an estimate based on a 3 year old report. Although we have a year to carry out works we were advised by the company to wait until the fosse was inspected again as regulations may change. We gave had the house 11 months now and I’m panicking because we haven’t carried out the work. My husband thinks we should just wait and see what happens. Any advice greatly received. Also can anyone recommend a company in the Brantome area. Thanks


(stella wood) #2

Hi Teresa…Welcome to the Forum.

No need to panic… but the work does need to be done… not just ignored.

You need to contact “Service Public d’Assainissement Non Collectif”

Communauté de communes Dronne Et Belle
Avenue Ferdinand Beyney
05 53 03 83 55

You will need to make an appointment for them to come and check the installation existing, discuss with you any plans you may have for the property (adding bedrooms etc) and then they will advise you on the size of Tank and what other stuff needs to be done.

Once you have the up-to-date info on what you have to do… you can contact local companies to get a couple of quotes… and go with the one you feel most comfortable with.
(The Mairie or SPANC may be able to assist with names of local firms…)

SPANC will open a dossier in your name and inform the Mairie. (Be prepared to apologise for being a little behind hand… but make it clear that you intend to get things put right asap…)



(Mat Davies) #3

@smwsplr has told you what you “should” do, which is exactly what we did. A new septic tank system was installed at a cost of about 10k euros. Our local French neighbours giggled at our perception at the need to rush and commented that only the English actually go ahead and get the work done within the year.

I have been told that in the event the work is not done one of the taxes may increase by way of a penalty - but by 20 euros a year!

No I don’t strictly know if our neighbours are simply having fun at our expense or not.


(stella wood) #4

France is in the middle of a complete overhaul of the Waste-water Treatment scenario… and with good reason. One of the main opportunities for checking/correcting is at point-of-sale.

At the time of Purchasing: The Buyer undertakes to correct any faults (as notified and/or as may be applicable) to the waste-water treatment facilities within a certain timescale. This is part of the Sale/Purchase process and a firm commitment.

Waste-water (kitchen, bathroom, laundry etc) can contain potentially pathogenic micro-organisms, organic materials, nitrogenous matter, phosphorus etc, and can be the source of environmental pollution and significant health risks.

It is in no-one’s best interest to ignore/avoid the corrective measures needed for a property. There is far more than 20 euro at risk , I can assure you.

For existing owners (such as your neighbours)… the system may or may not conform. Depending on the severity of non-conformity, timescales can/will be discussed and works may (possibly) be delayed in the short-term… but the work will have to be done. If funds are a problem, aid is available (means-tested).

Some Owners are waiting until the last minute, until they are forced to have the work done. They run the risk of prosecution (last resort) and the very real risk of being responsible for pollution that is more costly for them to redress than the remedial work itself.

Sorry this post is a bit long, but it is an important subject… and I want folk to understand a bit of the reasoning behind these sanitation controls :relaxed: We’ve come a long way from those days when… the potty was emptied out of the window… :wink::open_mouth::stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: but there is still a way to go…:zipper_mouth_face:


(David Martin) #5

A great post Stella. I really can’t understand people who ignore the fact that the people who’s health will be at risk by their disregarding the fact that their fosse is not performing will be themselves and their family. As to those people who take on a commitment then decide to ignore it, well that says it all…


(Teresa Shipley) #6

Thanks for your replies. I will get in touch with spanc. Out fosse installation is only 13 years old so I think it’s the pipe size and a vent that is the issue. I know our notaire said it was better than his and seemed to find the report unduly fussy.


(stella wood) #7

Hi Teresa…

If the fosse is so recent, it is a shame it was not done correctly at the time… :thinking:

As I have said, if you discuss any plans with SPANC, whatever is done this time around will avoid the need to upgrade if you expand the property usage… and that can save a great of hassle and money.


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(David Martin) #8

France has decided that the most efficient way to upgrade fosse sanitation is to demand that all fosse septiques are brought up to the current standard when a property is sold. This means that, unless the fosse complies, the buyer has a bargaining chip to use when negotiating the buying price. All buyers will be aware whether the property that they are buying needs a fosse upgrade, the date before which the work has to be completed and will be able to have received quotes for the work before they complete the purchase.
It’s not complicated;

  1. You understand that the work must be carried out before a certain date.
  2. You know the cost.
  3. You decide whether to buy the property knowing that you have taken on a commitment, you can also decide to pull out and buy a different property without the commitment.
  4. If you do decide to buy you complete the work within the time frame.

(Teresa Shipley) #9

Whilst I agree with you David we were advised to wait in case regulations changed again. Looking back we should probably have ignored the advice although it was given by a the company who prepared our estimate. Hindsight etc.

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(Bill Morgan) #10

It’s possible the work will not be expensiveTeresa, we had an issue but all it involved was, the bends in the vent were too sharp (90°, should have been 45° bends), and the basket for the rock in the prefilter had to be changed, not difficult or a lot of dosh!


(Teresa Shipley) #11

Hi Bill.
The original estimate(without seeing the site and working from an old report) was for €4000. I think we should have just done it as the price is bound to have gone up. When the report was done in 2014 the then owners weren’t here and from my limited French I am not convinced some of the findings are correct. Anyway we are off to spanc now to grovel.

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(Bill Morgan) #12

Groveling is effective, our local inspectors are Human and helpful, good luck :wink: :+1:


(Teresa Shipley) #13

Just drove to Champagnac de Belair couldn’t find office so went into Mairie who said office is in Brantome. Anyway we very bravely rang spanc and we are being inspected next Tuesday morning. Fortunately he still has the old owners name so we hope he won’t ask for exact date of purchase. On phone I truthfully told him last year.

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(stella wood) #14

Sorry you had a wasted journey… obviously the link I found needs updating… it covers all the Dordogne… and more I believe… blast !

Was the telephone number correct ??? as that number appears everywhere I look…

(glad you managed to talk with SPANC… and it will all go smoothly from here on. )

I just hope the quote is not too far off the mark, regarding what work needs to be done.

Please do let us know how you get on, after the site visit… :thinking:

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(Teresa Shipley) #15

Not your fault Stella. The spanc list says Champagnac. Thanks for all your help. Feel better now I’m doing something positive. I did have a wobble when I thought perhaps the guy thinks he’s coming to inspect work done but as my husband said I over think things. Also I think spanc have to be informed before work commences. I’m assuming the inspection is free but if not will they invoice us?


(Teresa Shipley) #16

Also not a wasted journey as there is a pizzeria there which we will try soon. :blush:

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(Teresa Shipley) #17

We rang. 05 53 35 66 29.


(stella wood) #18

cheers Teresa… I’ll update my records… the old number is now for the Community of Communes and was, presumably, the way of contacting SPANC (through them) some years ago… :relaxed:


(Teresa Shipley) #19

The man from spanc has been and whilst he was very nice I think he thinks we want a new fosse because he recommended a sand filter and never even looked at our pipe sizes.
He said this is a conception and he must make a new file. He didn’t bring the old report and asked us for it and unfortunately my husband couldn’t find it on his tablet so he told us to get a devis. He gave us a form to fill in and left.
I am assuming that when we get quotes the company will advise us what needs doing to comply with regulations.
If anyone knows a good company near Brantome I would appreciate a recommendation.


(stella wood) #20

Hi Teresa

SPANC identify what needs doing according to what is already on-site and what your plans are for the property.

Any company quoting for the work… will need to have the info from SPANC… in order to ensure that they are not wasting-time doing things that do not need doing… and are, indeed doing what does need to be done… if you get my drift.

You say the Fosse was put in 13 years ago… but do you know if it was done in agreement with SPANC?

Lots to find out and check on… but I am sure, if you can locate the old SPANC dossier (if it was done)… that will shed a whole bright light on the situation…

I hope enough funds were allowed for in the Purchase Price… other wise… ooops…:open_mouth: