Septic System Design- An Intro

Designing a septic tank system is an important part of building a home that does not have access to a city sewer system. In fact serious consideration must be given to where the septic system should be placed on any property before the final house design is decided on. Doing so can mean saving thousands of dollars on the design and construction of the septic system. It is well worth the cost to hire a good septic system designer/consultant to look at your property before you break ground for your new home. They will assay the lay of the land and do the proper soil tests to determine the best location for the septic tank and drain field. They will also consider where you would like to locate your home during this process.

In some cases the designer may ask you to consider moving where you wish to locate your new home so that the septic system will work efficiently. In many cases this can also save you a good chunk of change because most designs are based on the fact that crap flows downstream, meaning that a gravity fed system costs less then a system that needs pumps to function properly. A gravity system will also be easier to maintain and has less moving parts that can break down.

If you find yourself in a situation where a regularly designed system will not work be sure to ask the consultant to go over all the options available to you. Have them explain the advantages and disadvantages of each design thoroughly. If they seem to be pushing a certain type of system it may be a good idea to get a second opinion. Take a copy of your design along with your site and soil reports and have another septic contractor or two look it over and get their recommendations.

You will also need to make sure that your septic tank system design meets all applicable codes and zoning requirements. These codes are in place to protect not only you and your property but the environment as well and any reputable designer/service contractor will design a system that meets these requirements. This plan should be reviewed by the local agency in charge of overseeing septic system design; usually the local zoning or health department. They will approve or disapprove the plan and make recommendations for changes that should be followed. Once the system is installed it will need to be inspected by a building inspector to make sure it was built according to the plan.

If there are other homes in the area it is a good idea to talk to your new neighbors about the type of system they have and who installed it. They can give some good feedback on what works in that area and what doesn’t. They can also recommend good contractors and even tell you who to avoid. You do need to make sure that the neighbors you talk to have a newer septic system that meets all the current codes. Some may have systems that have been in place for many years and no longer meet current standards. Proper septic tank system design is an important first step when building a new home. Failure to do so can lead to more expensive system that can put a serious drain on your new home budget.