This week I met with some homeowners that have a seasonal cabin on Green Lake with a grand-fathered out-house. Like many homeowners they thought they could sell it as a cabin with an out-house, but that isn’t the case. When they sell, they lose their grand-fathered status and they must meet the Chisago County Sewage Treatment System Standards.

 This particular lot is not deep enough for a septic system with a drain field, so their option is a tank, which may need to be pumped frequently, depending on their usage. They can keep the out-house and put a septic tank under it and connect the well water to the out-house, but then they would need to install a second tank for the house if they want water going to the kitchen. The other option is to not have water going to the house and pump water from the well and carry it into the house.

 This cabin is in excellent condition so it doesn’t make sense to tear it down, and in my opinion, the best option would be to eliminate the out-house and convert the cabin to a year-round home with a bath and full kitchen with one septic system. Either way it will be expensive, but the future value will be better as a year-round home.

 I have another client purchasing a home on Rush Lake where the 20-year-old septic system failed the compliance inspection and the seller has opted for a septic box instead of a septic mound because the box takes up less space and it is less expensive. The treated cedar box will sit in the front yard and will be approximately 5’ high x 12’ wide x 28’ long. Luckily this is a wide lot so it won’t be directly in front of the house. This system will cost the seller about $13,500.

The Chisago County Sanitarian is extremely helpful and knowledgeable regarding sewage treatment systems. One of my clients was lucky enough to receive grant money earlier this year for a mound replacement.

 If you are thinking about selling in the near future, get your septic system inspection scheduled the next time you have your tanks pumped and keep your compliance certificate. Septic systems are not normally inspected in the winter as the ground needs to be thawed, spring road restrictions cause delays, and contractors are extremely busy trying to catch up in late spring and early summer.

 An experienced real estate agent can answer questions about required inspections, and can help you plan your next move.

Ask the Real Estate Agent is a weekly column by Cheryl Kempenich of Coldwell Banker Burnet, who lives and offices in the Chisago Lakes Area. Submit your questions to All information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. For legal assistance consult an attorney.