If you’re in the process of buying property and dreaming of building your perfect home, septic tank permits may not be the first thing on your mind. Sure, they’re not glamorous, but septic permits are essential to beginning construction on your new home if your property is not served by public sewer. In this article, we’ll give you an introduction to septic system permits and break down the process of obtaining a Buncombe County, NC, septic tank permit.
Buncombe County Septic Permits
Septic systems must be installed correctly in order to keep groundwater clean and free of contamination. Since this is a public health matter, septic permits for Buncombe County are granted by the county’s Department of Public Health and Human Services, Division of Environmental Health. All new residences (and other new buildings) that are not served by a public sewer are required to obtain septic permits before getting building permits or starting construction.
The Division of Environmental Health is also responsible for new well permits. If a well is going to be drilled on your property, you will need to file an application for a well permit along with the septic permit application.
WNC is known for its clean mountain drinking water. Septic permits ensure our groundwater is kept pure and free of contamination.
How do I get a Septic Permit in Buncombe County, NC?
If you are building a new home on your property, you will need to obtain a septic tank system permit before construction can begin. In Buncombe County, you will need an “Authorization to Construct” for the septic system before a building permit will be issued. To get this authorization, you will need to file an application with the Department of Health and pay all applicable fees. Then an environmental health specialist will be assigned to perform an evaluation of the site.
Before the evaluation, you will be provided with a checklist of things you can do to prepare the site and expedite the evaluation process. Once those items are done, the specialist will visit your property and evaluate the soils for a suitable septic tank installation. Once your property is approved, an “Authorization to Construct” will be issued, and a building permit may be obtained.
What is an Improvement Permit?
An Improvement Permit is useful when you are buying a building lot or property that you aren’t ready to build on but may build on in the future and you simply want to know that the property will support a septic system. This permit can be obtained from the Division of Environmental Health before you buy. It states that a septic tank system may be installed for the project you specify (as long as the site is not altered or modified to make it unsuitable for a septic system). These permits are valid for at least five years. This is the same as the Authorization to Construct, but it does provide assurance that the property will support a septic system. You’ll still need to obtain an Authorization to Construct when you’re finally ready to build.
For more details on obtaining a septic tank permit in Buncombe County, including application forms, instructions, and fees, visit the Environmental Health division’s webpage.
NC Rule Allowing Soil Scientists to Write Septic Permits
North Carolina’s Regulatory Reform Act of 2018 includes several rewritten rules pertaining to septic permits. One of these rules specifies that septic tank site evaluations may be performed by a licensed soil scientist or a licensed geologist. The evaluator must inspect the proposed site for specific conditions that are suitable for septic tank construction.
When it comes to who performs the septic tank site evaluation, property owners have multiple options. The evaluator can either be an environmental health specialist provided by the county or a privately-hired, licensed soil scientist, licensed geologist, certified inspector, or professional engineer.
Working with an evaluator who is not provided by the county office can help expedite the permitting process. The evaluator must have an Authorized Onsite Wastewater Evaluator (AOWE) permit in order to perform the evaluation. With this option, the Division of Environmental Health will only need to handle the administrative tasks associated with the permit and not the entire process.
At Freestone Properties, we strongly recommend engaging a soil scientist to assist with obtaining a septic permit. These professionals have experience dealing with the county Division of Environmental Health and can overcome challenges that may arise during the permitting process.
Once you’re ready to install your system, be sure to check out the North Carolina Onsite Wastewater Contractor Inspector Certification Board (NCOWCICB). They can provide a list of engineers, consultants, and surveyors who have worked in North Carolina as certified wastewater system installers and/or inspectors. Everyone on this list has been certified by the NCOWCICB at various certification levels. The NCOWCICB allows you to view their list of certification holders by name or by county, so no matter what county you’re planning to build in, you can use the list to find a qualified professional.
Buncombe County Septic Permit Lookup
Buncombe County offers an online portal where users can create applications for many types of permits, including septic and well. The portal can also be used to look up existing permits and records. If you are buying a home and need to know where the septic tank is located, or if you are attempting to find a permit for a well or septic tank issued years ago, this site can help you locate the documents you need. In order to search, you will need at least one of the following pieces of information: permit number, parcel number, address, and/or contractor. Click here for tips and tricks for searching for a permit on the portal from the Department of Public Health.
How long does a septic permit last?
Septic permits typically last for five years and expire if the system is not installed. In Buncombe County, an improvement permit can be issued with no expiration if an engineered plat showing the exact locations of the structure and the septic system is submitted along with the detailed site plan.
How long does it take to get a septic permit?
It typically takes several weeks to get a septic permit. The application, scheduled site evaluation, and paperwork processing must be completed in full before the permit will be granted. However, depending on the backlog at the county office, this process can take up to two or three months.
Getting a septic tank permit is an important part of building a new home. By following state guidelines and taking care to have the system installed properly, you’ll be set up for success with a septic tank system that will serve you well for years to come. If you’re considering buying property and building a home in Buncombe County, check out our land listings in Asheville, NC, and the surrounding area. Don’t forget to let us know where you want to build your dream home – we’d love to help.