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Question DetailsAsked on 10/24/2016

cost of adding additional septic field lines

The county inspector said an additional 140 feet of field lines are needed to add a pool in the backyard. What is the average cost per foot to add lines to an existing system?

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2 Answers

Voted Best Answer

I presume you mean you are having to relocate the leach field because you are going to put the pool in the existing leach field ? Because just having a swimming pool does not affect the sizing of the leach field.

If he said you need 140 LF more field lines in addition to current field because you are putting in a pool, something is wrong here - a normal leach field can handle the waste water from the backflushing of a pool filtration system unless your system is undersized in the first place. Alternatively, you may be able to use a disposal well or spreading ground (sway from the leach field so as to not oversaturate it) for that discharge only, because in most code areas that is not considered contaminated water, so can be discharged like rain water.

Be sure existing leach field organic mat and saturated soil is removed and disposed of - both to avoid smell issues but also with concrete pools, putting it in an old leach field can result in severe corrosion of metal piping (best to use plastic in that case) and concrete reinforcing. Can't you put the pool where you are looking at the new leach field ?

Depends of course on your soil conditions, required burial depth, whether the soils need a filtration gravel around the pipe or not, etc. Can be as little as around $10/LF for simple trenching and laying in perforated drainfield pipe in snady or gravelly soil that can be used as direct backfill, more commonly around $20-25/LF with gravel backfill, and in very hard digging conditions or with a raised-bed situation (above-ground fill to act as the leach field) can run up into the $30-50/LF range.

And of course, if not level or downhill from the existing junction box or manifold for the current leach field, you will need a septic lift pump also, which can add another $1000 pretty quick.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD


LCD - thank you for the information. I asked a few more questions of the county inspector and he told me that the septic plat on my house was never approved for 6 bedrooms only 5 even though the home was new construction and always had 6 bedrooms before I bought it from the original owner... The same county issued a building permit and a CO with 6 bedrooms so I have no clue how the original septc plat said 5 bedrooms when it always had 6....I am now selling the home and my buyer wanted to put in a pool but he said the county inspector "denied" the request because there were insufficient field lines for the 6th bedroom and an additonal 140 FL would be needed to bring the house to code so apparently that is the problem and had nothing to do with installing a pool. The buyer just terminated our contract because of what he thought was a pool issue. My lot is 1.5 acres and most of it is behind the house and there are 2 septic tanks on the side of the house so the pool would not be anywhere close to the tanks.

Answered 3 years ago by missymuzio


Might take some quick legwork but I would talk to your Realtor ASAP - and would also require a talk with the county about bedroom classification criteria and after done a reassessment by the county assessors office, but in many areas a "bedroom" is classified based on certain minimum square footage (assuming here that yours meet that but might be worth checking to be sure - you might acutally have 5 or less legal bedrooms right now as it is), an access door (usually required to access the interior of the house), a second door or a legal egress window for emergency egress (usually to outside but not necessarily), and a built-in closet. Would of course require confirmation from the county that physically declassifying a bedroom will make the septic non-conformance issue go away, but if the standard is based on number of bedrooms (usually is) there is no legitimate reason they should not approve that change.

In most areas, you can reclassify the house to one less bedroom by removing or permanently (not just temporarily) eliminating the second egress (or making it too small to be legal - sometimes just by changing window unit or obstructing part of the egress passage with a storage bin or exterior tool cabinet garden tool cabinet or removing a step-up made to make it legal height or such) or by eliminating the closet - by drywalling it over or whatever, or is commonly done by drywalling over one smaller bedroom's closet and connecting it to an adjacent bedroom or adjacent bedroom's closet to give that bedroom a walk-in closet or a second closet (usually the Master bedroom is gaining this space, obviously).

This could allow the house to be, typically for $500-1000 and sometimes less, reclassified as a house with one less bedroom (5 is it you would be going to ?) that would then have a legal septic system for the number of bedrooms - because this septic problem is likely to come up with ANY buyer, not just this one, and even if not enforced right now would probably block any future building permit (for remodel, etc) so would have to be disclosed to all future potential buyers on the property disclosure.

Does of course reduce the bedroom count by one permanently (till reversed and septic legs are added) and would require that the MLS listing of the number of bedrooms be changed - but would also add an office or craft room or such to the room count for the room lising the bedroom classification, so the total number of rooms listed would not change, not would the square footage (unless closet were totally blocked off). Depends on your locals and how high-end the house is, but not many families want or need 6 bedrooms - in most cases one or more will be a craft room, study, office, game room, etc - so droppingthe officiall bedroom count by one might not affect the selling price by much at all, if any.

The "rapid" part - other than that you are on the market and losing time - is if this were agreed to by the buyer that dropped out (who would have to sign a new contract or an amendment revoking his cancellation and agreeing to the bedroom count change) and if the reclassification were done rapidly (before the appraisal) might make that particular deal a go again. Might depend a lot on how quickly this reclassification can be done (same-day paperwork in some areas after the modifications are done, messy in other areas) and on how aggressively your Realtor takes this up with his/her Buyer's counterpart.

In fact, given that the buyer apparently thought that the septic requirement was because of (or prevented) the pool - they might agree to continue the deal as is (if septic shortfall does not prevent the sale of the house as is), with the added septic lines being a contingency to be remedied by closing date, or by converting one bedroom to a non-bedroom - several options here that they mighkt accept on or more of to keep that deal alive.

BTW - on adding the 140LF of lines, if you decided to go that way (which could also bring the buyer back if agreed to be done by closing) - I previously talked as if the field were being moved - in the case you clarified, additional lines adjacent tot he current field would certainly work (supject ot clearances form building, wells, other septic systems, property lines and such) - adding length to the existing lines might also be a viable option depending on current pipe size and loading (gpm design flow) and topography. That would commonly be the simplest solution if conditions allow it. Normally, a Civil Engineer (not an AL Search the List category) has to design the septic sytem or any modifications and do the percolation test to prove it will work correctly.

That brings up one other possibility if considering doing the septic system change - if an engineer does a percolation test for the current field it might prove the existing system can actually handle 6 bedrooms as is without modification - might be worth a try, since a percolation test would be done anyway for the new lines, so doing another at the same time in the existing field would not cost much more.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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