Buyer beware: Dump truck sinks into homeowner’s septic tank

HOPEWELL, Va. (WRIC) — It was supposed to be their dream home but putting in a driveway at their Hopewell home, Ellis and Ashley Squire discovered something stinks, literally.

“They were sitting there for about 30 seconds and the whole truck just fell through the earth, ” says Ellis.

The work crew’s dump truck sunk into a septic tank the Squire’s had no idea they had.

“It was not disclosed in any of our paperwork,” says Ellis.

A check of their city water bill confirmed they were not hooked up to the city’s sewer system.

Now the Squires have a large, dangerous hole bubbling with waste in their backyard.

“It’s pretty nasty,” comments Ellis.

The stench is awful, neighbors can’t stomach to sit outside on their desk.

Neighbor Jim Paul  tells 8News, “It’s a bad situation and I feel sorry for them. They’re put in a financial bind that most people couldn’t recuperate from just buying a new house.”

The Squire’s say when they brought the home about a year ago, one told them it had a septic tank.

8News combed over the paperwork.

The home listing shows water is noted as “public.” Sewer/septic is left blank.

Yet, the home appraisal and home inspection report both list water and sewer as “public.”

This left the Squires to believe they were hooked up to the Hopewell sewer system.

8News also looked over the purchase agreement and found a clause that states if there is an on-site sewage system, the seller must provide a certificate.

The never happened.

Still, 8News has confirmed with Hopewell the home has had a septic tank since at least 2010.

“We’re at the point where now we have roughly 3 weeks before this has to be fixed or we have to move out here,” explains Ellis.

Hopewell has told the Squires they have to drain and plug the hole as well as tap into the Hopewell sewer system or the house will be condemned.

Fixing the mess is costly.

“We are looking at between $8,000 to $10,000  just to do that,” says Ellis.

The Squires don’t think it’s a bill they should have to pay.

But who is at fault? It’s a finger pointing game.

Experts in the industry tell 8News thank blank space next to “septic” on the house listing should have been a red flag to the Squire’s agent with ReMax and he should have asked about it.

Remax blames the listing agent Whittle & Roper for never disclosing the septic tank.

Other industry experts tell 8News the appraiser could be at fault for wrongly noting the home was on a public sewer system.

Whittle & Roper blames the seller.

An attorney for the seller says she never intentionally left out the information about the septic tank, she didn’t even think about it.

He says the home inspector provided wrong information on their report and he adds Whittle & Roper should never have left the septic section blank.

One thing everyone seems to agree on, it’s not the new homeowners fault. They were given bad information.

“Hopefully we can find someone willing to help up, just get justice. This is a first house, “ says Ellis.

There is a lesson for all home buyers here.

Don’t just assume the home you are looking at is hooked up to public water and sewer. There are a lot of homes in Central Virginia where that is not the case.

You can review property records for the home online. If the information is unclear, call public utilities and ask.

The Squires are looking for an attorney to take their case.

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