How to Have a Septic System Designed and Approved


If your building lot does not have access to public sewers, you will need to install a septic system. Septic systems must be approved by the local board of health before installation.

  • Obtain completed blueprints for the house to be built - a septic design is based upon the number of bedrooms or square footage.

  • Hire an experienced local civil engineer - there will probably be several firms in your area specializing in the field - to handle the testing, design, and approval process.

  • Have the engineer conduct percolation tests and soil logs on the property. These tests must often be witnessed by a representative of the local board of health. These tests ascertain the soil conditions and rate of drainage at various locations on the lot. The size, complexity, and cost of the septic system will depend upon these factors.

  • Have the engineer design a septic system that conforms to the applicable regulations. Make sure the engineer has access to your house plan so that the septic design will be sufficient for the size of your home.

  • Have the engineer submit the completed design to the appropriate regulatory body (usually the local board of health) along with the percolation test results and soil logs. This may require a public meeting or may be done in-office.

  • Obtain approved copies of the septic design plan from the engineer. These should be stamped by the board of health.

Tips & Warnings

  • A septic system that is above a certain elevation will require a pump system. In addition to being extremely expensive, such systems can create problems during power failures. Only have a pump system designed if there is no other acceptable alternative.
  • Septic system costs can vary enormously with the design. Discuss the cost and complexity of the system with your engineer during the design phase.
  • Never ever purchase a lot that requires a septic system without confirming that valid percolation tests and soil logs have been done and that a reasonable system can be installed.

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