Thursday, 7 January 2016

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Diagnostic reports - Fosse septiques

This is the first in a mini-series of articles on the diagnostic reports that are undertaken when arranging the sale of a property in France. There is an ever increasing number of reports that a vendor has to provide, (at not insignificant cost), for a buyer’s information, before a Compromis de Vente (CdV) can be signed. This group of surveys are known as the Dossier de Diagnostic Technique (DDT).

The requirement for a report on the drainage has been applicable and obligatory since 1st January 2011. This report must also have been carried out no later than 3 years prior to signature of the Acte de Vente.

What happens if the Fosse report reveals a “non-compliant” installation? For some buyers (and sellers), this is a moment of panic and desperation. But as with most things there is normally a solution. For example, quite often it may be that the fosse itself is ok, but the “soakaway’ is non-existent or not large enough. Equally, an absence of “grease traps” is a common factor highlighted. These are generally easily overcome at modest cost. The body that carries out the reports is an organisation called “SPANC”, but it is strange that SPANC in the Dordogne may have different requirements to the Charente for an identical property.

It is worth bearing in mind that the “norms” for all of these reports are constantly being updated. Thus, a fosse that has passed an inspection 3-4 years ago, may not necessarily pass upon the next inspection.

Please note that the official legal stance is that if the septic tank is found not to conform the new owner must bring it up to standard (or at least commence works to bring it up to standard) within one year. A vendor, interestingly has 4 years to carry out such actions. It is almost unheard of that this clause that will be enforced with any degree of intent, but it does need to be factored in by the purchaser. We understand that the ultimate resort is a “fine” by the commune on an annual basis, but that this cannot exceed the cost of connection to the mains drainage. Thus if the connection charge to mains drains was 250 € then then maximum charge / penalty would be 250 € p.a. which even over a 20 year period would come to 5,000 € - which is almost certainly less than the cost of a new installation.

There are quite a few different types of system now, including “micro-stations”, but you have to be careful which to choose as some are not designed for holiday homes. The big advantage of these, as their name suggests is that they are more compact than traditional systems – see French). There are some systems that are now approved for holiday homes, the list is constantly growing, as are the rules & regulations.

In the event that you encounter problems with your fosse septique, there is a recent eco-friendly solution for emptying and / or maintenance, see

A completely new fosse septique installation is quite a costly affair, generally 5,000 Euros upwards. Our advice would be to go for a larger tank than you need, as the norms are always moving in an upwards direction.

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