Stupid Question About Mystery Yard Structure - Landscaping & Lawn Care - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum


Go Back   DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum > Home Improvement > Landscaping & Lawn Care

CLICK HERE AND JOIN OUR COMMUNITY TODAY...IT'S FREE!

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 03-24-2011, 08:57 PM   #1
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 54
Rewards Points: 75
Question

stupid question about mystery yard structure


I'm looking at houses to purchase, and having always lived in places with city-provided water and sewer, I'm not really familiar with wells and septic tanks. This picture is from the yard of a house close to downtown, built in 1900. The house is on municipal water, sewer, and everything else - it is very much "on the grid." So, what is the cement structure in the lower right corner of the pic? An old septic tank? Should I be concerned about it at all? Do I need to have it checked for leaks or anything, if I decide to purchase the house? This is probably a really stupid question, I'm just used to living in apartments. You can't see in the photo, but the lid is locked with a padlock.


Advertisement

TOTALN00B is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-24-2011, 10:03 PM   #2
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: As always..beside myself.
Posts: 4,226
Rewards Points: 2,000
Default

stupid question about mystery yard structure


Its a well. If you are interested in purchasing that house then you or your Realtor should check with your municipality on by-laws regarding abandoned wells. Sometimes they are kept operable for garden or livestock watering. Where I am in Ontario there are very specific regulations that deal with the filling in of dry wells.

Advertisement

creeper is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to creeper For This Useful Post:
TOTALN00B (03-27-2011)
Old 03-25-2011, 10:13 AM   #3
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: White Lake, MI
Posts: 42
Rewards Points: 25
Default

stupid question about mystery yard structure


Have the house inspected by a qualified home inspector and have the seller open the lock to the inspector can see in it. It is too hard to tell from just that picture. And looking at the house it may have other issues you should know about before buying it.
cep89 is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to cep89 For This Useful Post:
TOTALN00B (03-27-2011)
Old 03-27-2011, 12:25 PM   #4
Newbie
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 10
Rewards Points: 10
Default

stupid question about mystery yard structure


I live in a rural area, wells are common. It looks like a closed off or abandoned well. This would be done if either the web went dry, which i doubt, or they hooked into the city and didn't need/want it any longer. It was probably sealed correctly at the time it was sealed. The lock it to prevent kids or dummies from falling inside from playing in or trying to see how deep it was.
If it was septic it probably wouldn't be higher than the ground and would most likely be filled with sand or dirt.
kimi725 is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to kimi725 For This Useful Post:
TOTALN00B (03-27-2011)
Old 03-27-2011, 02:53 PM   #5
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 54
Rewards Points: 75
Default

stupid question about mystery yard structure


Thanks, everyone!! Looks like the general consensus is that it's a well, which is good. I do hope it's not filled in with dirt - seems like such a waste. It would be nice to have a back-up supply for watering the garden in summer. Or in the event of post-apocalyptic loss of water utilities. But then maybe it's illegal to use it? As far as I know, California is not one of the states where catching rainwater is illegal, but I don't know about using abandoned wells to water your yard... This is in on the northern Caifornia coast, a very wet place for most of the year.
TOTALN00B is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-27-2011, 03:16 PM   #6
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 54
Rewards Points: 75
Default

stupid question about mystery yard structure


Quote:
Originally Posted by cep89 View Post
And looking at the house it may have other issues you should know about before buying it.
Cep89: I'm very curious what else you see in the photo that would be of concern! The electrical wires on the exterior scare me, but I think maybe that's because I've just never noticed these things before. This is one of the houses I looked at that actually has modern grounded 3-prong outlets throughout (there are many houses here that only have older 2-prong).

I had a friend who's a GC look at it and inspect the foundation, which is posts & piers like most houses here (so really ought to be earthquake-proofed - though some engineers say these are better than perimeter because it lets the house roll with the quake instead of absorbing the full shock - not sure if I should believe this). On the foundation inspection from last year there was some minor beetle damage that's typical of older houses here, but no living beetles (powder beetles I think they're called?). We went right after a big storm, and it also didn't have as much standing water around it as most of the houses we looked at that day. It can get really swampy here in the winter with the neverending rain, so I think I picked a good time to look at houses.

You can have a purchase contingent on things found in a full inspection, right?
TOTALN00B is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-28-2011, 07:15 PM   #7
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: As always..beside myself.
Posts: 4,226
Rewards Points: 2,000
Default

stupid question about mystery yard structure


yes and double yes. Always make it conditional (we use different terms up here, but it means the same thing) upon an inspection. Or use a contractor friend who you trust.
creeper is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to creeper For This Useful Post:
TOTALN00B (03-28-2011)
Old 03-29-2011, 11:28 AM   #8
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: White Lake, MI
Posts: 42
Rewards Points: 25
Default

stupid question about mystery yard structure


The downspout looks to have a new elbow on the bottom, but it still is not adequate to get the water away from the house. The sidewalk looks to be new asphalt, is this just covering a sidewalk that cracked and sunk due to the downspout dumping water on it. The wood below the downspout looks different than the siding. Did it rot away, if so what is the condition of the wood behind it. That corner has 2 different types of siding, why? Was there an addition, was it done right? There is a v shaped gap to the left of the stairs. Looks big enough for small animals to get in and make a home. The left post of the stairs looks soaked half way up, is it treated wood, has it been sealed lately. Since your climate has a lot of rain I would pay a lot of attention to the gutters and down spouts and grading away from the house. You are correct that a home inspection is a clause in your offer. It helps to know what problems you will need to fix, so you can price that into your offer. A lot of forecloseure sales won't fix any thing. Even if it's not a forecloseure sale the seller does not have to fix anything found in an inspection, but you can walk away from the sale and get all your money back except the cost of the inspection. On the postive the lawn looks very healthly. On the well I agree with another poster about checking on the laws about using it or if it is ok to just leave as is. I think you will find that having your own house is much better than renting an apartment, but don't pay too much. This is a buyers market.
cep89 is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to cep89 For This Useful Post:
TOTALN00B (04-13-2011)
Old 03-29-2011, 05:33 PM   #9
paper hanger and painter
 
chrisn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Hagerstown MD
Posts: 6,863
Rewards Points: 2,234
Default

stupid question about mystery yard structure


Now there is a detective eye and good advise
chrisn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-29-2011, 09:08 PM   #10
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Nashua, NH, USA
Posts: 6,976
Rewards Points: 2,048
Default

stupid question about mystery yard structure


Note that an abandoned well or a dry well are not suitable places to store rainwater for future use. The water will be lost out the bottom into the surrounding soil.

And if it is close to the house it should not be used to dispose of gutter water. Such water could find its way into your basement.
__________________
Forget super sized fries. The Washington Redskins could promote healthy eating with First Lady Obama by choosing a (red skinned) turnip for a mascot.

Last edited by AllanJ; 03-30-2011 at 10:20 AM.
AllanJ is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to AllanJ For This Useful Post:
TOTALN00B (04-13-2011)
Old 03-29-2011, 09:17 PM   #11
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: White Lake, MI
Posts: 42
Rewards Points: 25
Default

stupid question about mystery yard structure


Thanks Chrisn. One thing I forgot to mention about the 3 prong outlets, get a tester (looks like a plug with 3 lights on it) from a hardware store and test them. Some people just replace the outlet and use the existing 2 wire wiring, so it looks like its grounded but its not. The outlet tester should cost less than $10.00.
cep89 is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to cep89 For This Useful Post:
TOTALN00B (04-13-2011)
Old 03-29-2011, 10:12 PM   #12
Member
 
concretemasonry's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota - Latitude 45.057 Longitude -93.074
Posts: 3,828
Rewards Points: 2,144
Default

stupid question about mystery yard structure


First, do not buy the house until you know exactly what it is and then determine what liability it poses. It may be a tight access to something different below.

If it is a rather shallow drywell that is one thing with limited liability.

If it is some kind of access to water supplying well, it could be costly. A shallow dug or driven driven well can not legally abandoned using a certified well contractor. It is is a deeper drilled well into an aquifer the abandonment can be very, very costly since only certified well drillers can do it. It takes a lot of aggregate and layers of concrete followed by a proper capping system (not a hatch and a lot). The later type are usually not required for permitted abandonment until the property is known to change hands. Most municipalities know where they are, but the enforcement is a methodically programmed plan to preserve the future water quality to other users of the aquifer.

Different states have different situations and geology, so differences in policies are numerous and varied

Dick

Advertisement

concretemasonry is online now   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to concretemasonry For This Useful Post:
TOTALN00B (04-13-2011)
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
stupid framing question amakarevic Building & Construction 12 02-23-2008 04:29 PM
stupid masonry question amakarevic Building & Construction 5 02-22-2008 09:21 AM
New service Question Onytay Electrical 1 10-24-2007 06:47 AM
Embarrassingly stupid question about latex paint joeyboy Painting 7 08-20-2007 10:25 PM
Switching from light socket to plug - stupid question CGofMP Electrical 5 03-25-2005 10:48 PM




Top of Page | View New Posts