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Septic Tanks in South Carolina

Before You Buy Land

Image of a 'For Sale' sign.Looking to purchase rural land for your new home? There may be conditions under the ground and out of sight that may make it impossible to install a septic system.

Before making an offer, you may want to check with your local DHEC Environmental Health office to see if staff have time to conduct a thorough pre-purchase evaluation. You will have to obtain the current owner’s permission to do this. You will also need to fill out a formal application with DHEC, sketch out a theoretical site plan, and pay an evaluation fee just as if you owned the property and planned to build on it. However, the peace of mind and helpful planning insights a DHEC inspector can provide could save you money in the long run and keep you from buying property that you won’t be able to use.

Contact your local DHEC Environmental Health office to see if staff can conduct a pre-purchase site inspection.

Make Sure There is Space to Meet Required Separation Distances

Remember that you will need to measure the lot to ensure there is enough space for your home, septic system, driveway, and well. You will need to factor in these required minimum distances between your septic system and any:

  • Buildings – 5 feet
  • Property Line – 5 feet
  • Private Well – 75 feet
  • Public Well – 100 feet
  • Surface Water – 75 feet
  • Drainage Ditch – 25 feet

Alternative Septic Systems

Property that does not meet state standards for a ordinary septic tank system may require an alternative system that can cost thousands of dollars more. Alternative systems may also require greater separation distances.

Potential Problem Signs

As you scout for land, pay particular attention to any feature that could affect the installation or operation of a septic system.

  • Are any parts of the land rocky? Bedrock near the ground surface could make the land unsuitable for a septic system.
  • Are there gullies, ravines, excessively steep slopes or other severe topographical conditions?
  • Is the land prone to flooding? Are there rivers or streams near the property that are likely to flood?
  • Does the land seem to be wet or to hold water? Does surface drainage seem to be a problem?
  • Does the land contain designated wetlands? Have any designated wetlands in the vicinity been mapped on the property?

For additional information, contact: (803) 898-4329 Fax (803) 898-4200