Once you've made the commitment to find a piece of land in a rural area on which to build your home, don't forget to add the cost of a well and a septic system to your building budget. Rural sites don't have access to municipal water or wastewater systems.
While the figures will vary depending on the land's specific makeup -- and where you plan to build your home -- on average it can cost $5,500 to $10,000 or more to add both a well and septic system to your building site. The site's soil composition and the availability of ground water can push this cost as $40,000 or more.
It takes a professional and a well permit to drill a well because of the specialized equipment needed. The actual cost to drill the well includes drilling the hole and adding 4- to 6-inch casing. Depending on the licensed contractor you choose, well drilling runs on average from $15 to $30 a foot -- or more -- at the time of publication.
To drill a 100-foot well for example, the cost of drilling the well and adding the casing averages around $1,500 to $3,000 -- not including permit fees, which vary by building jurisdictions and health departments. When the driller does not find water, you still have to pay for the depth he has drilled. If he reaches water at 400 feet, that cost will run $6,000 to $12,000, depending on the per foot drilling costs.
These figures don't include the well pump, the piping for water delivery, a pressure switch, the pressure or storage tank or any plumbing from the well to the house site. It also doesn't include any water conditioning equipment for water that requires treatment. Water conditioning can add from $1,500 to $3,000 or more to the well's cost.
A septic system consists of a tank to hold and treat the home's wastewater, plumbing connections to and from the tank, and a leach field where the effluent disperses after the bacterial action in the tank breaks down the solids.
Soil Percolation Tests
In addition to the permit costs for a septic system available from the health department or local building jurisdiction, most regulatory agencies also require a completed soil percolation test with results that are favorable for adding a septic system to the land.
Depending on the jurisdiction, you might be able to perform the test yourself, but if a licensed geologist or professional must complete it, expect to pay on average frin $1,061 to $1,414, which is added to the cost of a septic system.
When you look to purchase rural land, make the purchase contingent on a passed percolation test, otherwise you might not be able to use the land as a house site.
Septic tanks cost from $500 to $1,200 depending on the size of the tank and the company you buy it from. While you can piece out the individual aspects of a septic system, it's often more efficient to pay a fee for the entire system of $4,000 to $14,000, but it can range as high as $25,000, depending on the soil composition, the size of the house and how many bathrooms it has.
Septic System Construction
Septic systems include the cost of grading in the installation, and the gravel beds to support the tank and line the trenches that hold the leach field piping.
Bids and Lien Releases
Before settling on the licensed contractors you need to complete the work, solicit bids from three to five contractors for the well and three to five contractors for the septic system. After comparing the bids based on services rendered and fees, check the contractor's license on your state's website for complaints or problems. Ask for testimonials or objective reviews by customers or visit websites that host such reviews or make contractor referrals.
Make certain that if the contractor plans to file a mechanic's lien on your land that he also files a lien release once you have paid him for the work.