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My wife and I are considering a building lot.

The city ran a sewer line down the street in front of the lot early this spring, so connecting to the sewer is a possibility, but would require a lift pump. I have been told that the city will not necessarily require a hookup to the sewer as it could be considered an "undue burden", but I have not verified that myself.

The seller has a letter from the county health department which shows that a septic tank would be permitted under a few conditions:

  • Minimum leech field distance from an irrigation ditch just outside the property line.
  • Positive results from a percolation test (done)
  • A runoff ditch running the entire width of the front of the property (240 feet), at edge of the road within the city's right-of-way, to be piped in a culvert. I assume (but have not confirmed) that this expense will not be the city's but the owner's responsibility.

Part of me thinks building a septic system is signing up for future maintenance headaches. The other half of my brain thinks it better to depend on gravity rather than an electric pump to keep the basement from flooding in raw sewage.

What other aspects of this decision would you consider?

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    Would double check with the city that you do not need to hook up. Cities do not lay sewer pipe for the fun of it, they want the lot/house owners to pay for it in sewer fees.
    – crip659
    May 21, 2022 at 11:51
  • Do not understand why you would need a lift pump. unless you have toilets/sinks in the basement. Most sewer pipes would under the street and below first floor levels.
    – crip659
    May 21, 2022 at 11:58
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    @crip659 if the home is below the sewer line a lift pump is needed, this is not unusual in some areas they run the sewer below the street the homes below the pipe need lift pumps.
    – Ed Beal
    May 21, 2022 at 14:07
  • @crip659, we are definitely checking with the city about whether or not we would be required to connect, as well as confirm if we would be charged a monthly sewer fee even if not connected.
    – spuck
    May 23, 2022 at 15:51

3 Answers 3

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Have you looked at city sewer rates?

Septic systems on property that has passed perk test are usually good for 20, 40, 60 years depending on soil conditions,

I live in a 1930 home that the wood tank was replaced so in 90 years it did need a tank.

if you use a garbage disposal drain field work will be needed possibly in under 20 years but compared to city sewer rates if I could have a simple system I would go that way.

lift pump to the city you understand the pump, but did you realize a tank was required? Pumps have sensors to turn on & off and the pump failures + monthly fees, cost of power, give me septic system, in an emergency I can get a bucket of water from the pool to flush or the creek,

I believe septic is less expensive for most cases , yes there are bad soil conditions that cause problems but you said you passed perk so I would go that way.

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    Great comment as usual Ed, I agree completely. Gravity fed septic is almost maintenance free except for pumping the tank every several years. The only thing I'd add is don't get a garbage disposal, you don't want any more solids going there than necessary. May 21, 2022 at 10:19
  • I left numbers out of the question; the city rates are about $60/month.
    – spuck
    May 23, 2022 at 15:50
  • The garbage disposal is a good thing to consider for either us or a future owner. I assume a water softener is in the same category...
    – spuck
    May 23, 2022 at 15:53
  • A water softener is not as bad as a garbage disposal and the discharge can be dumped into a dry well since there only cycling every 1,2,3 days depending on water conditions you can figure out the size of dry well to use fairly easily. Some do dump to the tank I don’t think it is a good idea.
    – Ed Beal
    May 23, 2022 at 17:02
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I live in a house that uses a well for water, and a septic system for waste. Yes, it's a lot less expensive per month to not pay water and sewer fees, but I anticipate huge bills if a septic or well issue requires service. So the way I look at it (very informally, I've never run the numbers or needed to do any well/septic maintenance other than having the tank pumped every few years), it probably ends up being about the same cost over a long period of time (30-50 years). It's just whether I pay for it on a monthly basis, or huge unanticipated bills on occasion if something breaks.

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  • The cost for putting in a well and/or septic system or major repair can be quite expensive. Think you are looking in the range of 10,000 to 20,000 dollars for each, depending on your local conditions/costs.
    – crip659
    May 23, 2022 at 16:13
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if you place the collection tank outside and below the basement floor level (eg. where the septic would go) then the basement will not flood

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