Author Topic: Buying a house next to a sewerage  (Read 18021 times)

frugledoc

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Buying a house next to a sewerage
« on: July 21, 2014, 06:25:11 AM »
Hi all,

Thought I'd ask here to get opinions from people who tend to go against the flow!

We have found a huge plot of land at a great price.  It has stunning views and we could build our perfect house on it with pretty much no debt required, taking it slow over 2 - 3 years.

There is a sewerage works downhill and adjacent to it. I have congenital absence of sense of smell and but my wife has a sensitive sense of smell. We've been a couple of times and can't smell anything.

We are relocating from a high cost of living area (London) to low cost (Scotland) so a large lump sum has been freed up to purchase and living expenses would be low.  Also, my commute distance to and from my job in Scotland would be slashed by at least 20 miles per day (current 25 miles each way, would drop to 13 miles each way).

Any opinions or experiences?

Kind Regards,
Frugal Doc.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2014, 06:35:43 AM by frugledoc »

TrulyStashin

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Re: Buying a house next to a sewerage
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2014, 08:17:16 AM »
My first concern would be potential environmental impacts, beyond just the smell.   Note, fwiw, I'm a lawyer and work on environmental and land use issues.

Depending on how well-run a water treatment system is, they can cause "sanitary sewer overflows" (that's the U.S. term), where a heavy rain (or other cause) overwhelms the system and causes the untreated sewage to back up and spill out into/ onto nearby creeks, land, basements etc.    SSO's are a big problem here in the U.S. where aging infrastructure has not be adequately upgraded or maintained. 

There may also be issues with ground water (sub-surface water) contamination which will be especially relevant if you have a well instead of municipal water supply.

In short, I'd do a lot of research and maybe even talk to the local board of health AND dept. of the environment or UK equivalent.  In the U.S. we have developed a system where anyone (usually corporations do this, but anyone can) interested in buying a parcel of land can have what's called a "Phase 1" Environmental Assessment done to determine whether there is cause for concern -- it will red flag known environmental concerns for additional analysis.  It's not unusual for a property that's adjacent to an environmental hazard to become polluted too, through groundwater flow or surface spills.

There's likely a good reason why no one has built there yet.   Leave no stone unturned.  Under US law, anyone who buys a property that has an existing environmental hazard becomes legally responsible for that hazard.  If UK law has a provision like this, you need to know about it and need to know if there are any hazards present.

I hope this helps.

MakingSenseofCents

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Re: Buying a house next to a sewerage
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2014, 08:48:49 AM »
Have you visited the property in different temperatures? There is a sewage place around 20 miles from our home, and sometimes it doesn't smell, but at other times (such as when it's super hot outside) it feels like I can't escape the smell when all I do is drive through the town.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Buying a house next to a sewerage
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2014, 10:57:17 AM »
Even if you plan to stay there a very long time, consider the difficulty of reselling in such a, ah, unique location.

Nords

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Re: Buying a house next to a sewerage
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2014, 12:49:10 PM »
We have found a huge plot of land at a great price.  It has stunning views and we could build our perfect house on it with pretty much no debt required, taking it slow over 2 - 3 years.
There is a sewerage works downhill and adjacent to it. I have congenital absence of sense of smell and but my wife has a sensitive sense of smell. We've been a couple of times and can't smell anything.
Any opinions or experiences?
You've just described our home, and we've enjoyed it for 14 years.

We live next to a sewage pumping station, and it's the best neighbor ever.  The city employees check it at least once a day (so there's traffic in our cul-de-sac) and once a week the diesel generator runs for an hour (during testing or maintenance).  When the power goes out on our street, the generator auto-starts and runs until power comes back.  We've only smelled the classic sewage odors a half-dozen times during that 14 years.  Otherwise it's by far the quietest neighbor we've ever had, and I'd gladly trade at least one of our neighbors for a second sewage-pumping station.

However it also attracts projects.  When the city decided to upgrade the electrical transmission lines near our home, they parked all of their construction equipment there for six months.  (It's the edge of a gulch so it required a lot of guys digging holes with jackhammers, and the new electric poles were lowered into place by a helicopter).  When the weeds need whacking, an entire squad of two-cycle Stihl operators shows up for an hour of precision line-dancing.  When the police think there's criminal activity in the gulch, they park a cruiser at the pumping station and sneak around to the gulch side with surveillance equipment.

The sewage pumping station moves it uphill (because, of course, sewage rolls downhill) to the treatment plant a half-mile away.  Even though it's a half-mile away, last year we were treated to a constant noise of a diesel generator for nearly three days (another electrical upgrade).  When they're doing construction projects on the treatment plant site, we can hear the jackhammering and bulldozers all the way over at our house.

Long-term, we have a great home and I'm never leaving.  Short-term, there has been acoustic pain-- but no olfactory offense.

When you buy that land, you're starting the phenomenon of "encroachment".  Municipal officials are quite familiar with the issue (especially around airports) and they're positive that you're going to start filing complaints and monitoring their operations and maybe even bring unwanted media attention down on them.  They will probably not greet you with open arms to discuss noises and smells.  Ideally you'd be able to go door-to-door at the houses within a half-mile of that plant to ask whether they're a good neighbor.  If you're lucky, a Google search will turn up public records of the plant's behavior and any accidents.  (Maybe they'll tell you when they're doing maintenance, and you could drop by during those times for a sniff.)    If you're incredibly lucky, you'd be able to find a retired (or former) sewage worker who can give you the inside scoop (so to speak) on how the sewage plant does its business. 

Ohio Teacher

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Re: Buying a house next to a sewerage
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2014, 12:56:17 PM »
I am contributing nothing to the discussion, but the question made me think of this:
http://how-i-met-your-mother.wikia.com/wiki/Dowisetrepla 

frugledoc

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Re: Buying a house next to a sewerage
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2014, 04:06:50 PM »
We've spoken to neighbours just across the road and they have lived there for 49 years. 

There was a buzzing sound the second time we went to look and they said they had complained about that a few times but it was basically solved by staff at the plant remebering to close the doors of one of the pumps. 

Property in the UK is very expensive.  My feeling is that a house on this plot would be 10 times better than anything else available for the same money.

Going to do some more research into it.

This is the plot if anybody is interested.

http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-45342391.html

You can see the sewerage on google earth.

Must_Stash

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Re: Buying a house next to a sewerage
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2014, 08:33:45 PM »
I work at a wastewater treatment plant. 

Sanitary overflows (basement back-ups) occur throughout a system, not just near the plant.  They are often due to issues with people's private laterals, or insufficient local capacity during rain events, or pump failures at a lift station.  Proximity to the plant should not be a factor. 
 
Our plant treats sewage aerobically, so the smell is earthy but not sour like anaerobic rot.  A treatment plant is like an aquatic compost heap, really--- lots of oxygen, organic matter, and happy bacteria in a healthy system.  By forcing air through the water in a tremendous volume of fine bubbles, we create an artificial habitat where the most efficient, least odiferous "bugs" thrive.  Only if the process fails would there be a truly foul odor.  We are motivated to quickly address these problems.

In short, we're very good neighbors and people travelling past have no idea we're here!