Perked Land for Sale – What is a Perc Test?

Are you searching for perked land for sale in Northern Virginia?

Are you searching for perked land for sale in Northern Virginia? If so, you’re not alone.

Given how rapidly Northern Virginia is developing, prospective buyers are often surprised to learn that a lot of land is still not connected to public water and sewer. This is especially true of single residential building lots in places like Great Falls and more distant suburbs.

So, if you are thinking of buying land and building a home in Northern Virginia, it’s important to be familiar with perc tests (short for percolation test) and septic systems. But what in the world is a perc test, and why should I be shopping for perked land for sale?

To put it simply, a perc test is performed by a soil scientist to measure how fast water drains through the soil on your building site. The results tell you if the site can support wastewater discharge from a septic system.

Perc tests are performed when the site doesn’t have access to public sewer, or when the cost of connecting to the sewer is too expensive. If the site doesn’t pass a perc test, then a septic system can’t be installed. By extension, if neither sewer nor septic is an option, then you’re pretty much out of options for waste disposal and you won’t be able to build a house on the site.

Perked land for sale
Septic tank being installed on a building site.

Most jurisdictions require a perc test as a prerequisite to issuing a building permit. This is why it’s great when you come across perked land for sale—the work has already been done for you. It’s also why it’s vitally important to get a perc test before settlement if the land hasn’t already perked. The last thing you want to do is buy a piece of land only to find out after the fact that you cannot build on it because it fails perc test.

Perc tests are relatively inexpensive, and asking a soil scientist to perform a perc test is like asking your car mechanic to perform an oil change—it’s a routine task they perform on a daily basis.

An experienced land agent should be able to recommend a good soil scientist and help you craft an offer with appropriate contingencies to ensure you don’t get roped into purchasing a lot that doesn’t pass a perc test.

If you’ve got any questions as you search for perked land for sale in Northern Virginia, please contact me anytime at 202-750-4050 or

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