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Septic systems


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By Phillip in Tampa, FL on 10/26/2006


In the spirit of DIY, I haven't been able to find much information from others, so I wanted to start this topic.

Has anyone explored, or better yet, installed their own septic system? Bids for mine are about $12K, and my materials are only about $2,700. Seems like a ripoff to me.

I have access to an excavator, and the rest of it seems pretty straightforward. The county has already told me what size my drainfield and tanks have to be. I'll also need a lift station.

My neighbor (also a general contractor) is building his own house and will be installing his own, and he is encouraging me to do the same. I'll follow along with his to see how it goes, but I wanted to see if anyone else had any related experience or comments.

 

Phillip


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By Del in Norcross, GA on 10/26/2006


Good for you! I'm plannning on building in Polk City (if I can ever find an engineer to stamp my plans) and intend to install my own septic. I've been looking at The Natural Home septic systems.

Del


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By Phillip in Tampa, FL on 10/26/2006


Del:

Yes, that is the same system I plan to use. You can download installation instructions here: infiltratorsystems.com

It is sorted by state, which is kinda cool.

I'll keep you posted on how it goes!

Phillip


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By Hugo in Jacksonville, FL on 10/27/2006


Phillip,

I noticed install instruction indicate only certified installers of theirs are allowed in Florida. Is this not the case?

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By Phillip in Tampa, FL on 10/27/2006


Hugo:

As I mentioned, my neighbor is a GC so they let him order the stuff. You do have to be a certified contractor to buy it... Hughes Supply carries it in Tampa. Any plumber or GC can order it for you.

Phillip


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By Del in Norcross, GA on 10/28/2006


Phillip,

I'll look forward to your hearing experience with it. I'll be glad to come over and help you install it if you'd like. I plan on spending a lot of time hanging out at my sister's in Polk City amasssing building materials once I can get my building package ready to submit and won't have a lot else to do until I get permission to build.

Del


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By Phillip in Tampa, FL on 10/28/2006


Thanks Del. I will let you know when we start (I plan to start it just after the foundation is poured and the concrete trucks aren't running all over the lot anymore), probably 3-4 weeks max.

Where are you located? We're building on the north side of Tampa, near SR 54 and Interstate 75.

Phillip


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By Del in Norcross, GA on 10/29/2006


Super. I'm currently still living in Atlanta but have been spending at least a week a month in Polk City since August clearing my property of trash vegetation and dead trees and having dirt hauled in and graded and planting trees. I wanted to make sure that the 1.5 acres of the property that the county shows as being in the flood zone isn't.

I've also been buying materials on sale and storing them in my sister's barn. Needless to say, a couple of her horses and my wife aren't real pleased with me at the moment... Polk City is about 15 miles east of Lakeland off of I4 - about an hour and 15 minutes from your location. I'll be down the week of Nov 6 trenching in water and power along the north pasture fence line, but my schedule is flexible and I can run down from Atlanta anytime with a couple of days' notice. I'd be very appreciative of the opportunity to get some hands on installing this septic system, since it's what I plan to use.

Thanks,

Del
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By Del in Norcross, GA on 11/15/2006


Hi Phillip,

Any ETA on installing your Infiltrator system? I was serious about helping you install it.

Del


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By Phillip in Tampa, FL on 11/15/2006


Del,

Well, project is already behind schedule as land clearing and hauling took about a week longer than expected. Dirt was also a slow process - my guys had a hard time finding drivers for their trucks.

So, the updated timeline is this... we plan to start the footers today, finish tomorrow, inspect Friday. Then pour Monday, set stemwall Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. Then we hit the holiday, so stemwall fill probably won't be until Monday the 27th. Plumbers hopefully will finish up that week, and foundation pour will be Dec 2nd or so. So I plan to start the septic the week of Dec 9th, approximately. I'll keep you posted.

Phillip


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By Phillip in Tampa, FL on 11/15/2006


FYI, we installed my buddy's system last week, and it was super simple - if you're good with an excavator and loader (which I'm not, but I get by) you could easily do the whole thing in 1-2 days.

If you're an avid do-it-yourselfer, and you have access to the materials (you need a contractor's license to buy them), this is definitely a way to save some $$$. The whole system, with lift station and 700 sq ft of drainage field for him, along with two tanks (1,000 gallon and 500 gallon), including all materials and fill dirt, was about $5K. The best price I could get from a contractor for about the same thing was $11K.


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By Del in Norcross, GA on 11/15/2006


Phillip,

Yeah, nothing ever seems to follow the schedule. Excellent news on the cost. That's quite a margin on materials and labor that the septic folks have going for them. Wish I could match that in my business. Nah, I'd feel like a thief. I'll be sure and keep that week open if you don't mind me participating.

Thanks,

Del


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By David in Ocoee, FL on 11/16/2006


I cannot believe the estimates that I am getting for a well and septic system in Tallahassee!

There is no impact fee! The most I will pay in permits is $800 total. A 4" rock well up to 100 feet with pump and 120-gallon tank = $4,600, $12 per additional foot.
A septic system for an 1,840 s.f. home = $2,300.

And these are not the best quotes. These are average quotes. I knew there was a reason that I purchased property in Tallahassee. This weekend I am going to look at 35 acres of land off of Hwy 20 for $315,000. Anyone want to join in?


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By Phillip in Tampa, FL on 11/16/2006


Wow, no impact fee... that must be a great feeling. Ours will be $11K plus another $1,500 in permit fees.

Septic system pricing varies greatly on what type of system is required. In our case, we are using a mound system with lift station. Instead of piping, we are using the Infiltrator system as well.

My price, then, of $5K includes about 6 loads (18-yd loads) of septic sand, two concrete tanks, lift pump, timer/control box, PVC piping, infiltrator system itself, and inspections/permit fees.

In other words, $2,300 is a great price, but may be a totally different type of system (we're in a flood zone A backing up against wetlands, so our soil is terrible and we have to excavate 37", fill that back in, and build up another 35" above existing grade.)

The well price is comparable - mine was $5,100 for 240 feet depth, 4", 1-HP motor with 220-gallon tank. Offset is $225 for first 30 feet, then $5.25/ft after that.


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By David in Ocoee, FL on 11/16/2006


Folks in Tallahassee seem to like to keep things really simple. I mentioned the Infiltrator system to four companies. They had heard of it, but not used it. They quoted me for a gravel system. All the systems in my neighborhood are below ground. My lot is 100 feet above sea level and extremely high and dry. Besides that, my house (1,840 s.f.) will probably fit in the loft area of some of the homes (mansions) that you guys are building! So it won't require much of a drain field.

I am not going to need a sump pump because my drain field will actually be downhill from my home site. I am still thinking of putting one in anyway, because I still feel that it is much better for the drainfield. Got to go! I hear my boat calling me!


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By Kel in Pensacola, FL on 11/24/2006


Since it's a county holiday I was searching Google for perk test information in Florida re: prices.

I came across this board, really nice.

Does anyone know the general price range of having a perk test performed for septic?

Thanks in advance,

Kev

 

 

 


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By Bill in Callahan, FL on 1/17/2007


Can you break down the cost by sand, tanks, pump, control box, infiltrators, and fees? I looked at a system today being installed and researched online. The pump and control box could be had for $300 total. This system used bundled corrugated pipes. My quotes are between $6,500 and $7,500 for my mound system. I did not think the materials would be $5K

Let me know your pricing if you get a chance. 


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By Phillip in Tampa, FL on 1/18/2007


Bill:

I started excavation yesterday and will probably have final numbers for you in a couple of weeks.

Keep in mind that I need a LOT of sand (over 10 loads it looks like) and that represents at least $2K of my price. Further, the Infiltrator system is more expensive than the pipe system, but most people tend to agree it works better and is simpler and faster to install.

Phillip


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By David in Ocoee, FL on 1/18/2007


Please also keep in mind that the price for the septic system depends mostly upon the soil conditions at the location of the drainfield, the square footage of the home and lastly, upon any local codes that are more stringent than State code. For instance, my septic system in Tallahassee for a new 1,840 s.f. home will cost $2,300. This includes everything; permits, the tank and pipes. My system will not require sand, rocks or an elevated mound, because of the soil conditions that exist at the drainfield site. This is a case where one size does not fit all.
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By John in Lake City, FL on 2/9/2007


Phillip:

I am a newbie to the Owner-Builder Forums, but have done two O-B projects in the past 6 years. One way I found to save money on the septic system is to coordinate the delivery of the tank when you have the crane on site to set the trusses. It only took minutes to pull off the delivery truck and place in the hole. We had to pull it once to re-level the soil, but it was nice having the crane on site and not worry about any additional expense.

I did my septic system in 2001 for about $850. The infiltrators were $400 and the tank was $400 (the septic tank company sent a larger tank than ordered) and the piping was about $50. As for the trenches and septic hole, I got off easy in that a neighbor of mine had a backhoe and it cost me a case of beer to dig the hole and trenches. I hope this helps and is not too late.

John


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By Phillip in Tampa, FL on 2/11/2007


John:

Sounds like a good tip, but my house is already framed and sheathed and we flew trusses weeks ago. However, great idea to keep in mind the next go-round. The guy delivering my tanks has a crane on his truck, so fortunately there won't be a separate cost to bring a crane out this time. Strange thing is, he requires that I wait to excavate until he arrives with the tanks - they don't want me to dig the holes ahead of time.

Infiltrator system delivered for 60 4' sections and 40 end caps was about $1,200. I ended up with 15 loads of septic sand at $195/load. I'll give you guys prices on tanks, pump, and controls next week when I get my final pricing.

Phillip


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By Bill in Callahan, FL on 2/11/2007


Phillip,

At what stages of the septic construction process do you have to have the installation inspected? I am really interested in doing my own. I have a dozer and a small tractor-mounted backhoe. My quote for a 500 sq ft, 1,050 tank, 300 g pump tank, 80-gal dose is about $7,000.

Thanks for your reply,

Bill in Jax


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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 2/11/2007


One reason to wait on the septic tank hole in rainy country is they float when they are empty if the hole has water in it. Plus it's harder to set level if it's muddy.

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By Phillip in Tampa, FL on 2/12/2007


Bill:

Here in Pasco County (should be similar in the entire state as it is the State Dept of Health that does the inspection) you have up to four inspections.

The first is the excavation inspection. I spent hours making my pit look perfect - straight, square sides, smooth bottom (no small feat for an inexperienced excavator operator) and level. The inspector got out of his truck, walked up about 20 feet away, glanced at it, and drove off. Apparently they aren't too worried about the excavation part, but at least I know mine was pretty!

The 2nd is the stub-out inspection. They come out after your DWV plumbing is installed in your slab to measure the height of the invert of your stubout. This is to make sure the invert is high enough above your septic tank and drainfield for adequate flow. If you elect to use a lift station, which it sounds like you're doing, you will NOT have a stub-out inspection.

They don't come back out again until your septic sand is placed, drainfield lines are installed, the tank is set, the pump is connected, and everything is plumbed to the house.

The final inspection is the cover inspection. They want to make sure you adequately covered your drainfield lines with fill and that you are growing suitable vegetation on the top of the mound for erosion control.

Phillip


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By Phillip in Tampa, FL on 2/12/2007


One additional note, for those of you who won't be using a lift station...

The stubout inspection mentioned above may happen before the excavation inspection. In Pasco County, you can't call in your slab plumbing inspection until you have your stubout inspected by the Health Dept. It just depends at what point during construction you install your septic system.

I chose to install mine after the crane flew the trusses, through the time the roof was being installed, as I didn't really have much labor to do but wanted to be onsite as much as possible during that time. Once the roof is on, I'll be busy with doing the work I intend to do, so this is my best chance to get the septic out of the way.

Phillip


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By Bill in Callahan, FL on 3/15/2007


Phillip,

How did the septic turn out? Did you have any trouble with inspections? How much did you end up spending and what did you spend it on? I figured I could do it close to about $3,500 and all my bid are right at $7,000.

Thanks,

Bill


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By Phillip in Tampa, FL on 3/15/2007


Well, finally finished septic this week. Got tied up on some other more pressing projects and just got around to finishing. That, and Hughes/HD Supply kept delivering the wrong Infiltrator System. :(

Here is the final rundown on costs:

a. Tanks - $1,800 delivered (2 tanks, 1,050 and 300-gallon concrete)
b. Infilrator - $1,200 delivered (60 4' Straightlock chambers, 40 Straightlock endcaps)

c. Pump - $150 (1/2 hp Starite with 50' cord)
d. Alarm station - $90 (wall mount)
e. 50' extension cord for alarm station - $50
f. Septic sand - $3,000 (15 loads at $200 each)
g. 4-inch PVC pipe - $100
h. 2-inch PVC pipe - $50
i.  Misc fittings and adapters - $200
j.  Fill dirt for cover after inspection - $900 (5 loads at $180 each)

So, my approximate cost was $7,540. Lowest bid was $11K, or a savings of $3,460.

Took about 6 hours to excavate, 10 hours to fill and compact, 10 hours to level top (must be within 1/4" every 10'), and 8 hours to set chambers and plumb them. Add another 4 hours to excavate, set tanks, and plumb them up. So a total of 38 hours or approximately one week of work. I could do it in 25 hours the next time.

Fortunately, I had an excavator, loader, and transit at my disposal at no charge. You couldn't do it without these items.

Also, my septic was unusual - a lot of excavation and sand. 99% of systems wouldn't come close to that kind of excavation or mound, but since we back up to a watershed they are very concerned about contamination and our water table is admittedly high.

More pics below.

Phillip


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By Phillip in Tampa, FL on 3/15/2007


More pics.

Also, forgot to mention, I have inspection tomorrow morning, so I will let you know how it goes!

Phillip


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By P in North, FL on 3/16/2007


Thanks for posting the photos and price breakdown of your work. It is wonderful information.
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By Dorothy & James in Tampa, FL on 3/24/2007


Phillip,

Hope your final inspection went well and the Health Dept. signed off. We will be installing a septic similar to yours in many ways. I have a 10" water table on my property and will have a 36" mounded system with a lift station. We will only have one tank but it will be a 1,250 or 1,400 gallon. Our drain field will not be nearly so close to the house. Why was it so close? Also how much fill did you put on top of the mound? I am going for at least 12" as there will be settling over time and with 12" there will be better percolation of rainwater. How large is your drainfield? Ours will be approx. 33'x50' and will also probably use the infiltrator system. I will be having it installed as I don't want to mess with it.

Dorothy


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By Bill in Callahan, FL on 3/25/2007


That septic is huge. Mine for a four-bedroom is 1,050 gal with a 300-gal dosing tank and a 500 sq ft septic field. Your septic field is 1,650 sq ft. That is going to be a very expensive septic.  May I ask how big your house is?

Bill


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By Phillip in Tampa, FL on 3/25/2007


Dorothy:

Thanks for the well wishes, inspection failed due to septic tank company setting the dosing tank backwards. They are coming out tomorrow to pull it and turn it for me, then I get to replumb the pump. Could be worse, I suppose. I hate failing due to someone else's incompetence, I'd rather it be my own!

At any rate, not sure how you do a lift station without two tanks. Sounds like someone gave you some bad advice. The sewage should enter the first tank, break down to effluent which is a water-like consistency, and overflow to the dosing tank, which holds the pump. Guess it could be a 2-chamber tank, but most I see have two separate tanks.

How many bedrooms do you have? That is a HUGE drainfield as stated above. We have pretty much the worst conditions so I can't imagine why you'd need such a large field.

Our mound was so close to the house because that side of the house is our "ugly" side. It is close to the neighbor's house, can't be seen when you drive up to the home, and serves no purpose. We moved our house as close as possible to that side because we wanted the room on the other three sides of the house. By code, you only need a 5' setback from your property line and foundation, so we wanted to maximize the space. We have 3 acres but still wanted to best use our land.

Code says you only need 6" of fill on top of your Infiiltrator, but the manufacturer recommends 12" if you plan to drive a tractor over it (which you pretty much have to in order to place the fill).

Phillip


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By Dorothy & James in Tampa, FL on 3/26/2007


Phillip and Bill,

I did not do a good job of thinking before I wrote. The entire site (shoulder edge to shoulder edge) is the stated size, NOT the actual drain field size. It will probably end up being smaller when I put in for the permit. My house comes in at exactly 2250sq ft designed with the smallest drain field in mind using alternate materials for a mounded system and a high water table.

Yes, the lift stations have two tanks. First tank is going to be oversized, mainly because I have a bad habit of doing many loads of laundry in a single day and I don't want to overload the drain field. This on the advice of Health department septic inspectors who are my friends and coworkers.

We are also installing a 2 person jacuzzi tub in the master. Can you say large water dump into the tank when that baby drains?  We are gong to have a toilet and wash sink in the garage (doesn't add anything but we want to play it safe and have our system last for many years. 

Phillip, placement sounds like a great use of the space. Ours will be behind the detached garage 5' from the property line and 5' from the garage and will not  really be visible from the house. That way we still have all the use of the land between the house and the garage. We only have an 1 acre and 20% of it is wetland/setback. Code is only 6" for top fill, but I am going with 12". That is based on some of the horror stories I heard from above friends and their advice.

Dorothy


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By Phillip in Tampa, FL on 3/26/2007


Dorothy:

Just watch those setbacks, esp on 1 acre. If you are in Hillsborough they have a very aggressive, intrusive EPC department that would love to see you not heed their required 75' setback from wetlands. Also, code is 75' from a well, but everyone will tell you 100' is best for a minimum (I don't think any explanation is needed).

If you are not in Hillsborough, and have good contacts, you might be able to get away with not being 75' away, but I tried to pull that off on one house in Hillsborough and could never get it approved.

If you have good contacts at the Health Dept, I am sure most of this is redundant to you, but I suppose it might benefit someone else who is reading along and considering doing their own septic.

Phillip


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By Melissa in FAIRFIELD, MT on 8/11/2010


It has been a while since anyone has posted to this thread, but we are finally in the initial stages of building. We are located in a rural county in Montana. The county sanitarian has already come and approved our test hole for the septic system. I am in now in the process of doing all the work required to get approval from the DEQ in order to save us the $2,000 of hiring an engineer. I have spent the morning reading the Montana rules and regulations regarding septic systems and am wondering if anyone who has already been through the process of doing a DIY septic system has any pointers as I walk through the design and layout of our septic. Also wondering if anyone has opinions on DIY gravel vs. DIY systems like Infiltrator?

Thanks!


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By Torben in Sanford, FL on 9/8/2010


I am planning on a DIY Septic and have looked at the Infiltrator system. The problem is Infiltrator does not want their systems to be installed by DIY'ers. You can check the Montana installation manual, but the Florida one specifically states "only an Infiltrator-certified contractor may install these chambers". A health department inspector in my particular county said they automatically fail Infiltrator septic systems if not installed by a certified septic-tank contractor.
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By Melissa in FAIRFIELD, MT on 9/9/2010


Thanks for the input! I talked to the company where I have my quote from, and they said no such rules in Montana, especially in my rural county. We can buy it ourselves and after we've purchased, they don't care what we do with it. I'm 90% sure that we will go this route, especially after a quote from an excavator for $5,500 installed when our cost to do it ourselves is approximately $2,750 for the tank and drainfield supplies delivered to the site, including setting the tank. I guess we are super lucky that the red tape up here is almost non-existent!
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