New Septic System for my Parents

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PlayingLife
Posts: 228
Joined: Sun Dec 29, 2013 3:10 pm

New Septic System for my Parents

Post by PlayingLife » Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:53 am

Hi BH's,

I am kicking off my involvement in helping my parents purchase and install a new septic system in New Jersey. I've done a brief analysis online, and was hoping some of you could share advice/stories/guidance with me, in helping us complete this process.

My main questions: Should I be able to get an "all in quote" from a single person? Are they able to quote without an engineer analyzing the site? Or do you have to pay an engineer first in order to obtain a total quote? How did you handle the quoting process in general?

Thanks - this is just the start of an intimidating process.

My first thoughts and questions on this topic
Questions for Mom and Dad:
1. How many gallons do they currently have?

Itemized Costs:
a. Cost of system (Tank and leachfield)
b. Installation Costs: Including Engineer
c. Permits
d. Soil Tests
e. Excavacation Equipment

Things we will have to know and consider:
1. Does the current septic fit traditional standards which are no longer in compliance with modern laws and regulations? What is the impact when considering our new installation?
2. Will we go with a concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene tank?
3. How many gallons do they currently have, and how many gallons should the new tank be?

*The National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association is a good resource for identifying experienced and licensed professionals (Local sanitation office can also provide a few contacts for the project too)
*We MUST require references and proof of adequate insurance for a project such as this
*The work must also have some sort of guarantee or warranty as well
*Potentially include a maintenance agreement that will see the system pumped every one to three years, and inspected annually

Capsu78
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Re: New Septic System for my Parents

Post by Capsu78 » Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:04 am

The first thing I would research is what their municipality has in it's regulations regarding replacing septic systems. My village is very specific on what can and can not be done.
If you are replacing an existing "failed" system, the regs are fairly onerous.

hicabob
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Location: cruz

Re: New Septic System for my Parents

Post by hicabob » Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:29 am

Where I live you have to get a permit, then a drawing signed off by a fellow who used to work with the planning and zoning department and who seemed to have a county monopoly on that "service" when I went thru the process. He was a nice and competent enough, but expensive for the work performed. The process rubbed me the wrong way as being a bit corrupt. I suppose since the county I live in is rumored to have the highest number of planning and zoning folks per population in the US it's not too surprising.

Wellfleet
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Re: New Septic System for my Parents

Post by Wellfleet » Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:39 am

Capsu78 wrote:The first thing I would research is what their municipality has in it's regulations regarding replacing septic systems. My village is very specific on what can and can not be done.
If you are replacing an existing "failed" system, the regs are fairly onerous.


Yes, county or town/city sanitarian/board of health/health department will call the shots- approved engineers/contractors, government approvals, etc.

EagertoLearnMore
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Re: New Septic System for my Parents

Post by EagertoLearnMore » Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:40 am

The size of the septic system is usually determined by the number of bedrooms in the house. So you cannot undersize for a larger house just because your parents may not be using all the bedrooms. Usually you need a stamped drawing of the system to present to the township. The stamp is from a licensed professional engineer who has performed all of the calculations and determined what size tank(s) you need.

Can your parents use a gravity system or must they pump the gray water to a field? Many things to be determined. It usually helps to get the recommendation of a good contractor that specifically deals with septic installation and get his opinion. The good ones are usually busy but have excellent reputations and relationships with the township inspectors. This will make your life easier and worth the cost.

Each township has rules and regulations regarding setbacks, distance from wells (if well water), location of fields, alarm for failure of the pump if one is installed.

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lthenderson
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Location: Iowa

Re: New Septic System for my Parents

Post by lthenderson » Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:49 am

In my neck of the woods, you just get a quote from someone to install the septic system. In order to pull a permit, the county sends out their engineer (at no charge to you, to do a peculation test and tell you the size it needs to be based upon the results. Once the installation has been completed and before it gets covered up, the engineer comes out one more time (again at no extra charge) to verify that the permit has been followed.

Call the local sanitation engineer for your county and they can tell you exactly what size it needs to be which is based on the number of bedrooms in your house and not number of people or habits. They can also tell you different acceptable styles of septic systems for your area and soil type. What works in my area with heavy clay may not work in your area.

I have seen a number of fiberglass tank collapses in recent years to be leery of them, or at least getting a really cheap thin version. We've always had precast concrete tanks set into place and I've never seen one of those collapse.

PlayingLife
Posts: 228
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Re: New Septic System for my Parents

Post by PlayingLife » Mon Jun 19, 2017 1:22 pm

I called the Board of Health to get some further guidance, here is what I was told:

*The engineer decides if the septic has to get repaired or replaced. At this point, a permit is filed with the town, and the town joins the engineer in doing the soil test and the final assessment as to what has to be done. The town would work with the engineer to determine what is needed.

*The person I spoke with informed me that some people hire the contractor for the full job, who hires the engineer. Others hire the engineer first, who then hires the contractor. They are emailing me a list of engineers and contractors that work within the given county.

It seems to me that it is difficult to obtain quotes for a septic system. I assume an accurate quote cannot be given in this case until an engineer does a soil test and assessment with the town. In this case, I would think it's safest to first contact an engineer for a quote to assess the property. Once the assessment is complete and we know exactly what has to happen, we can bid the job out to a variety of contractors.

Any other recommendations or knowledge from past experiences? Thank you!

sadie wess
Posts: 249
Joined: Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:42 am

Re: New Septic System for my Parents

Post by sadie wess » Mon Jun 19, 2017 1:36 pm

EagertoLearnMore wrote:The size of the septic system is usually determined by the number of bedrooms in the house. So you cannot undersize for a larger house just because your parents may not be using all the bedrooms. Usually you need a stamped drawing of the system to present to the township. The stamp is from a licensed professional engineer who has performed all of the calculations and determined what size tank(s) you need.

Can your parents use a gravity system or must they pump the gray water to a field? Many things to be determined. It usually helps to get the recommendation of a good contractor that specifically deals with septic installation and get his opinion. The good ones are usually busy but have excellent reputations and relationships with the township inspectors. This will make your life easier and worth the cost.

Each township has rules and regulations regarding setbacks, distance from wells (if well water), location of fields, alarm for failure of the pump if one is installed.


Helpful explanation and exactly how it works in my municipality in NJ.

For the most part, I found my township inspectors and health department were helpful and honest about which engineers, excavators, and septic installers had good reputations and did fair work. No matter who you choose to do the work, your township does have to issue permits and inspections before you ever sell your home.

Best of luck,

Sadie

Wellfleet
Posts: 373
Joined: Sun Jan 26, 2014 8:18 pm

Re: New Septic System for my Parents

Post by Wellfleet » Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:03 pm

PlayingLife wrote: In this case, I would think it's safest to first contact an engineer for a quote to assess the property. Once the assessment is complete and we know exactly what has to happen, we can bid the job out to a variety of contractors.


I would prefer to have an independent engineer working for me who would be more willing to rigorously review the construction than have a package deal.

PlayingLife
Posts: 228
Joined: Sun Dec 29, 2013 3:10 pm

Re: New Septic System for my Parents

Post by PlayingLife » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:37 pm

Bumping this incase anyone else has experience or is familiar with the matter - I plan to call some engineers tomorrow. Thank you for your help!

WhyNotUs
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Re: New Septic System for my Parents

Post by WhyNotUs » Tue Jun 20, 2017 10:47 pm

Personally, I would pick my engineer and contractor together. The contractor will often have practical knowledge that will be of value to the engineer.

I replaced mine about 10 years ago and having the contractor there saved me from a design that would have been expensive to build. He pointed out an alternative that was easier and less expensive to construct, the engineer agreed and drew it up and the county reviewed and approved it.
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