What Realtors and Landbuyers Should Understand About the NC Septic System Permitting Process

Chris Mosley

The NC septic system permitting process is comprised of 3 permits that must he applied for in sequence to the local health department.  The 1st septic system permit is an application for an Improvements Permit (IP).  Basically, this permit will indicate whether there is available soil on-site to support a particular type of septic system.  If there is available soil on-site to support a particular type of septic system, then the IP will be granted to the applicant.  If there is no available soil or limited available soil on-site to support a septic system, then the permit application will typically be denied and/or the local health department will advise the applicant to contact a NC Licensed Soil Scientist (L.S.S.) for further evaluation regarding the feasibility of an innovative septic system on the site.  Therefore, even though an IP may have been denied, there still may be septic system solutions available for the property.  A NC L.S.S. can advise as to what, if any, solutions might be possible for a site that has been denied an IP.

The 2nd septic system permit is an application for a Construction Authorization (CA).  Basically, this permit allows the septic system to be constructed and installed on the site.  Many times this permit can be granted at the same time the IP is granted, but not always.  If the type of septic system is a conventional type system that requires very little design, then the CA can be granted at the same time as the IP.  However, if the type of septic system is more sophisticated (i.e. low pressure pipe, subsurface drip, pre-treatment, etc.) and requires a design by a NC L.S.S and/or a NC Professional Engineer, then the design must be completed and approved by the local health department prior to granting the CA.

The 3rd permit is an application for an Operations Permit (OP).  Basically, this permit allows the septic system to be placed into operation.  The local health department and designer(s) (where applicable) must view the installed system prior to the system components being covered with soil.  This insures that the system is installed according to the design and will operate properly.  Once the local health department and designer(s) (where applicable) have evaluated the installed system and are satisfied that the system has been installed properly, then the OP can be granted.

Jeff Vaughan, NCOWCICB Certified Inspector and NC L.S.S.
Senior Soil Scientist