Home Improvements and Septic System Regulations

Live on a Septic System? Check with the MA Board of Health Before Making Improvements

There are number of factors that you need to take into consideration while making home improvements. One of the most frequently overlooked is the regulations regarding septic systems.

If you live on a septic system, then you may need to check with the local health board and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) before proceeding. You may need special approval if you are making any improvements to your bathroom or another portion of the house that is adjacent to a septic system.

Understanding the Regulations Before Making Any Improvements

Most of the regulations that apply to septic systems fall under The State Environmental Code Regulating Septic Systems (also known as “Title 5”). The law was put into place to protect local communities from nitrogen pollution and other problems associated with septic problems.

State authorities are rarely involved in enforcing the law. The DEP states that local health boards are typically the regulators that you need to speak with before planning any projects involving a septic system, because the state Legislature has delegated implementation of Title 5 to local officials.

However, DEP can still answer any questions that you may have about Title 5 regulations. You can reach them through their website during regular business hours.

Working With Regulators

The local health board will want to ensure that you are in compliance before starting any project involving a septic system. Title 5 has established a minimum set of standards that people need to meet to ensure the safety of their septic systems. However, the regulations also allow local health boards to make exceptions for homeowners that can’t make these changes without facing undue hardship. If you are unable to make these changes, then you can compromise with the regulators to make some minor changes instead.

You should also consult with the local health board before making any other improvements that may affect your septic system, because you could inadvertently cause damages that will require costly repairs. The cost of repairing a septic system usually costs at least $4,000. You will need to make sure that you don’t make any improvements that could cause any damage to it, because you may be on the hook for expensive repair costs down the road. Regulators can provide some good guidelines to help you ensure that you don’t incur these unnecessary costs.

You will also need to outline all proposed improvements before you can receive a permit. Tell the health board about the purpose of your improvements, the duration of the project and the names of the contractors that will be working on it.