Septic Tank Installation

Septic tank installations are more commonly to be expected in rural areas. If you are from the San Joaquin Valley you are familiar with the rich abundance of countryside and farmland in the region. Septic tank systems are found on both residential and commercial properties.

Septic Tank Installation

What is septic tank installation?

Septic tank systems are solitary sewage system whereas urban areas usually tie into a common sewer line, treated and maintained by City management. Plumbing systems and fixtures are in every home and commercial property and include sinks, drains, showers, tubs, toilets and more. All of these factors assist in carrying organic materials and wastewater from the dwelling out to either a septic system or sewer system.

Septic tank installation is the process by which septic systems are designed and built to tie into plumbing systems. If you are planning on moving out of the city, it is best to do your research on maintaining septic tank systems as you’ll either need to install one or will be purchasing an existing septic tank.

septic tank installation
New septic tank being placed into a fresh pit.

How do I find out if the property I’m buying has a septic tank system?

Usually property records are transparent through real estate escrow and the existence of a septic systems are disclosed upfront prior to the purchase of a piece of property. There instances that structure blue prints are not available such as in foreclosure auctions or older homes.

Luckily most municipalities have records of building plans and can be obtained through the records at your local building department. Reach out by telephone to the building department and call to see if they have anything on file. If they do you can either request copies or go to the building department in person and make copies of the plans yourself.

If you are unable to find any information on record, you can call your local plumber or septic service company to come and perform an inspection of the property. In this day and age there a variety of state-of-the-art tools that aid professionals in locating the septic tank system. These instruments are all non-invasive so you should not need to anticipate digging up your whole property. Occasionally, there are rare instances that digging to locate existing septic tank systems are required.

real estate escrow and the existence of a septic systems
Inspection identifies existance and health of the septic system.

What is the process of septic tank installation?

Septic tank installation begins with your local municipalities who govern and set the building code for your local area. If you are building a new home or business, you can find out from your local building department whether you are required to install a septic tank system or tie into the city sewer line.

If you are required to install a septic system, the next step is to have a percolation test done. There are certain standards of absorption that must be met for the drain system or leach field, which is where wastewater exits the septic tank and naturally recycles into the existing soil.

The next step for septic tank installation is the design. Either your home builder or architect will assist with the design of the septic tank system unique to your property. There are a variety of factors that influence the design and size of the septic system. Engineers consider:

  • Local building code.

  • Property size.

  • Square footage of structure.

  • Frequency septic system will be used.

  • Total number of household members.

  • Quantity of plumbing fixtures, toilets and drains.

After project documents are on hand from your designer, you will need to go to your building department to get plans approved. Once you have approval documents you will need to get permits. Permits are another expense in the septic tank installation. Either you as the property owner may get permits or your local contractor will be able to get permits on your behalf. If your contractor is pulling permits, make sure the cost of permits is included in the estimate and contract.

Septic tank installation plans and permits in hand, next the septic system must be built, but first you will have to pick a contractor to install the system.

Septic Tank installation process
Septic tank pit digging for new septic tank placement.

How do I choose a company to do my septic tank installation?

If you don’t have a general contractor subcontracting the septic tank installation out and arranging all of the work, you will need to obtain your own subcontractor to install your septic system. The first thing you want to do is reach out to multiple companies for multiple estimates. It is always recommended to get at least a few estimates.

Nothing is a better than a qualified contractor who really knows what they are doing. When researching septic tank installation companies, you want to consider how long the contractor has been in business. How many years of experience do they have? The company should be licensed, bonded and insured. Check on the status of their contractor’s license. Is it in good standing? If you are in California you can check your contractor’s license number.

Another good consideration is consumer reviews. You can find reviews of prior customer’s’ experiences on various platforms such as Google, Yelp and Angie’s List. Reviews can help you find out what it will be like for you to work with this contractor.

Other factors that might influence your choices:

  • Is the contractor local?

  • Is the company a small business?

  • Does the company offer any coupons or deals?

  • How is the customer service?

  • How does the contractor communicate with you?

  • Is the company prompt? Nothing is worse than a delayed project!

  • Do they offer a warranty?

Only you can really decide who the right septic tank installation company is for you and what factors are important in your selection of your contractor. Do you research and compare estimates.! Next you’ll need to sign a contract.

Septic Tank installation company
Suck It Up is a Septic Installation Company based in Fresno, California

Septic Tank Installation Contract

Your contractor will provide you with a contract for a sum of money to install the septic system. Before you sign the contract, read it thoroughly. Make sure that all aspects of the estimate are included in the contract. You will want to understand the terms and conditions, most importantly, when is payment due? Know when and how the contractor wants to be compensated for the septic tank installation. Some contractors require a deposit and request process payments while others will just collect the balance in full at the end of the job.

You will want to look for the warranty statement in writing in the contract. The duration of the project and timelines should be set to avoid delays.

If you’re sure that all of your concerns for the septic tank installation are met in the contract, you are safe to sign it and proceed with scheduling the project.

Septic Tank installation contract
Your contractor will provide you with a contract for installing your septic system.

I’ve received a preliminary lien notice from my contractor, what does that mean?

Often times general contractors, sub-contractors and their suppliers will send out what are known as Preliminary Lien Notices. These are often times intimidating and misunderstood. Don’t worry! Nothing is wrong. This is common in the construction industry. Preliminary lien notices protect contractors and suppliers and help to ensure they get paid.

If a contract goes unpaid, a contractor can eventually file a Mechanic’s Lien on the property. A Mechanic’s Lien is a vested interest of claim in the property usually filed with the local County Recorder. If the property is sold, the lien will have to be settled through the sales process. A Mechanics Lien ensures the contractor gets paid for services rendered.

There are things you can do to make sure no liens are placed on your property. Request lien releases from your contractor and their suppliers. You should have a lien release from every company who sent you a preliminary lien notice with every scheduled payment. Lien releases protect you and are record of your payment. They release you of further monetary responsibilities. The most important thing is to get an Unconditional Final lien release. This will completely release your liability with the contractor.

There are laws and guidelines which must be followed that protect you as the consumer. The best thing to do is familiarize yourself with state laws that mandate the Mechanic’s Lien Process.

preliminary lien notice for contractors and suppliers
Preliminary lien notices protect contractors and suppliers and help to ensure they get paid

How do you install a septic system?

At this point the research has been done, the percolation tests completed, permits & contract in hand, next is the septic tank installation.

The first thing that you will need to do is schedule the date work the project is to begin. Discuss project milestones with your contractor.

Septic tank installation begins with digging. There’s a lot of earth moving to be expected. A large 1,000 gallon plus tank is going to be installed underground. There might be a lot of construction equipment on your property, but usually a backhoe will suffice.

A septic mainline is the beginning point of the septic tank system. This pipe will carry organic materials and wastewater from the building to the septic tank. This pipe is referred to as in inlet pipe.

Next the septic tank is installed. Septic tanks are usually concrete but also come in metal, fiberglass and plastic. This aspect will be set during the design process. The septic tank is the holding cell of sewage and wastewater.

The third step in septic tank installation is the leach field. This drain field that is the final phase of the septic system. Wastewater flows out to the leach field through an outlet pipe connected to the septic tank. The leach fields filter any last sediment before the wastewater drains into the earth that received the percolation test below it.

Now that the septic tank system is installed, you’ll want to ensure the septic system installation passes final inspection. If you have a sign off from the contractor and lien releases in hand, you are safe to pay your contractor.

Septic Tank installation company
Septic tank installation begins with digging.

How long will my septic system last?

A properly installed septic system can be expected to last multiple decades as long as it is regularly receives maintenance and inspections.

Septic System Maintenance
Septic tank access exposed in a pit.

How much does a septic system installation cost?

Depending on how much you’re involved with the septic tank installation, between design fees permits, soils tests, and paying for the labor and materials, a common range of installing standard septic system is between $3,000.00 - $8,000.00 To get the best price, make sure that you get multiple estimates on your septic tank installation; a minimum of three bids is standard.

Septic Tank installation company
Your contractor will provide an estimate for your septic system installation.

How long does it take to replace a septic system?

The planning and development phase of replacing a septic system can take up to several months in some cases – this includes all testing and permits. For the actual installation duration, it can be as quick as a few days or take a matter of weeks.

Replacing a septic system
Septic system inspection exposes major root intrusion where lines need to be replaced.