Recently, VA Loan Specialist Brenda Carr was working with a veteran to refinance his home on the Big Island. Everything was going smoothly until one rather large issue came up, but with a little ingenuity and detective work, Brenda was able to help – big time!
What made this refinance job a little different was not that it had a cesspool on the property, but that the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) did not have a current cesspool card on file for this property. Usually, the Hawaii DOH will have these on file as they are required for purchases, refinances, etc. However, if the transaction took place before the program was implemented, there may not be a card on file OR it could be incomplete and not meet the DOH requirements (which was the case with this one).
Hide and Go Seek the Cesspool
In order to keep the refinance process moving, Brenda would have to get a new card on file with the DOH, which is an easy process itself, but another obstacle stood in her path – no one knew where the cesspool was because it never needed to be emptied! Unlike many mainland homes with cesspools built on the land of soil, the island of Hawaii has lava underneath, which means the natural heat will percolate the cesspool contents constantly, making it so you don’t have to pump it.
A Potential Migraine…
To locate the cesspool would mean getting a plumber and a cesspool pumper to scope the opening, locate the cesspool with camera, find it from outside based on where it was scoped underground, dig for it and open it, and then get the DOH to approve it. Phew! All this can lead to a big expense – roughly 20k to 30k dollars – and on a well-landscaped yard makes it more of a mess for the homeowner.
There had to be an easier solution! Right?
Following Brenda and her customer’s decision to not dig up his entire yard, Brenda went to the DOH and found an old sign-off on the cesspool card. Though it wasn’t complete enough for the DOH to sign off on it, Brenda was able to get the name of the builder on the original form (dating back to the 1970s), track him down and ask him about the home. Unbelievably, the builder remembered the home and exactly where the cesspool was! What’s more, a plumber was able to do everything based on the location without having to dig for it, saving lots of time and money. What makes the story even sweeter is that the builder was also a veteran, and he was super happy to be helping another veteran out!
The whole experience took Brenda two weeks, but because she had her client’s best interest in mind, everything was done without any extra expense. This is fortunate, because on a related note, the State of Hawaii is soon going to require all cesspools be converted into septic systems. What could have been two large jobs and expenses now will become an easier job for the homeowner to handle.
As Hawaii’s longest running VA loan specialized lender, the Hawaii VA Loans team will make sure to go the extra mile for you whether you’re buying a home or refinancing. Contact us at 808-792-4251 or complete our short online application.