HARVARD -- During a dispute between a landowner and the installer of his septic system, who's responsible for what came into question when the installer refused to provide as-builts for the property owner until he was paid for his work, while the Board of Health mediated.

The board received a complaint by the owner of 29 Shaker Road, Benjamin Hill, that the licensed installer of his septic system, Gary Smith, would not provide the as-builts for the system until Hill paid him.

"I do this for a living, I built the septic system to 100 percent of the plan that we presented to (the Board of Health and they) approved in December. I have an as-built that I would love to give to you. I need to get paid for the work I did first," Smith said.

Before Hill can sell his property, the Board of Health must provide a certificate of compliance for the septic system, but in order to do that, they need the as-builts and Title 5 inspection forms.

According to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, Title 5 regulations, or the state environmental code governing septic systems, "requires inspections of septic systems and cesspools prior to a home being sold or enlarged."

Hill's lawyer said Hill is scheduled to close on this property Aug. 21 and he needs the certificate of compliance to do that.

A complicating factor is that another party worked on the septic system after Smith had done his work, leaving a gray area as to who is responsible for providing what documentation.


Hill argued that Smith is obligated to provide the documentation if he is the installer, while Smith argued that since he was not the last person to touch the septic, he is not obligated to provide the paperwork.

Hill asked the board, "Is Mr. Smith required to submit any documentation or certificates to the board in order for the certificate of compliance to be issued or is he not?"

The board advised Hill and Smith to work the matter out on their own since bringing the issue to a hearing would only exacerbate the problem.

"In my opinion (Smith) is not obligated to submit the documents because the final work was not done under his control," Nashoba Associated Boards of Health sanitarian Ira Grossman said.

Hill asked if it is possible for Smith to use money as leverage if he is required to provide the documentation and the board seemed to have no problem with it.

Lorin Johnson, member of the Board of Heath, said the issue is more of a personal matter. "This really feels to me that this whole scenario is out of Title 5. We aren't here to make the kind of decisions that you are asking us to make. This is a disagreement between two parties," he said.

Grossman added, "The short answer is that we do need the certificate for the as-built from the installer as well as the engineer. To get to that point is really clouded, and you may need to go to public hearing."

With little headway made during the Board of Health meeting, the two parties will bring the matter to a hearing at the next Board of Health meeting tentatively set for Aug. 27.

Follow Julia Kacmarek on Twitter and Tout @JuliaEKacmarek, and Like her page "Julia E Kacmarek" on Facebook.