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Installation of Septic Without Plan?


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Jeff's Forum Posts: 21
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By Jeff in Boston, MA on 3/2/2011


We have an approval to install a septic system on our land. The approval expires at the end of this year. Failure to utilize it results in the expense of hiring engineers to re-verify the ability of the land to support the system, permit fees, and time waiting for approval. Easily several thousand dollars, plus we run the risk of regulations changing, which may hamper the ability to build as we'd like on the land. We can't sell our current property for various reasons to generate the funds for a full construction loan. 

We have the money to put in a septic system. We know where we want to site the house and have a good idea of the design, but have done no site surveying and planning. We'd like to put the system in now without scheduling the entire building process in order to avoid the future cost and delay of not using the permit. 

Can anyone offer suggestions or caveats as to how or why this could (or could not) be done? Should/must a survey be done with the general footprint of the building?

Thanks.

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By Peter in Burlington, WA on 3/2/2011


I can't remember seeing a septic permit application that didn't require a site plan, so when you say you have done "no planning" that is a little confusing.

Generally speaking, I see no reason why you shouldn't put the septic in before the permit expires. It will increase the value of the building lot by at least the cost of the system and will go towards owner down payment when you apply for the construction loan.

If you have a relatively small lot, exact placement of the system is more important than if you have a large tract of land. When you say "survey," are you talking about the actual surveying crew? Could you be a little more specific as to what your concerns are?

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By Tim in North Pole, AK on 3/2/2011


Jeff,

Based on my experience putting my own in, here's my advice: If your building lot is not tight and restrictive and you already have the permit, press on, but make sure you observe required distances to property lines, neighboring lot wells, and most importantly, required distance to your own well. You need to have a spot picked out for the well to make sure you stay 100' away with the septic.

I don't have my lot surveyed other than the lot lines and my first floor is already framed up, septic and well installed. I don't live in an area where I need to permit everything, though. The only permit required for me to build is a septic permit, and a permit to attach my driveway to the road system. On the other hand, if it helps you sleep better, you should be able to get a rough survey done for $300 or so. That would keep you from losing what you have into your septic already.

Tim

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By Mary in PA on 3/3/2011


My experience agrees with the other posters above. We put in our septic and are planning to build the house this summer. I did it then, because we had the money, it got one more thing off the list before the "big event," and the excavator was on site for other work at the time. Depending on when you build (in our area) if the house is nearing finish and you get a real patch of wet (40 in. of rain/yr. here) it can delay putting in the septic for a while, which can delay getting a C.O. In terms of planning, we had done some fairly in-depth site planning on our own, and based the work on that effort. We have a large tract, so precise placement is not critical.

I had the well put in a few weeks before the septic. In my area, occasionally they have to move from the original drill site if water is stingy. So while I can't claim ultra foresight in planning, I was glad to get the well in first so that I knew I had more than code distance downhill to the planned septic site. By the way, we drilled the well but have not yet installed a pump.

The septic is about 100' from the house and sits between (and is shared) by two buildings - the future house and the shop we put up last summer. When it was put in, we connected it to the main waste pipe for the existing shop. The other stub from the septic will be brought the ~150' up to the house after we excavate for the basement and start plumbing rough-in.

A note on septic size; we sized our septic system for a five-bed house, even though our plan shows three bedrooms. The actual cost for the system and install were not that much more for a larger system, and in our area it is extremely difficult to alter septic system size at a later date - if someone were to want to add onto the house, for example. So that is something you might want to consider.


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By Mancong in Seattle, WA on 3/3/2011


I agree with the others.

Our property came with the septic tank and drainfield - installed in the 60s by the owner before our house's previous owner. I'm sure the regulations were more relaxed then, and he could have built a three-bedroom house. By the time we bought it and applied for a building permit, the septic system could only support two bedrooms even with a reserve drainfield. If your buildable area is tight like ours, you have to plan well to give yourself flexibility down the road. I would get a boundary survey done before starting anything.


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