French farmhouse renovation - May 2019

Nick Inman charts the ups and downs of doing it himself in our regular column... here, he talks candidly about sanitary issues and the dirty secret of a septic tank owner

When we were considering buying this old French farm, the last thing I thought to ask about was what happens when I flush the toilet.

In rural France, when you become a property-owner you often also become the manager of a private sewage treatment plant, normally called a septic tank (fosse septique).

This is hidden underground and inconspicuous. You are not supposed to notice it and until you take a look you don’t realise what a low-tech marvel you have.

If you are about to renovate a house that ...

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