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Breaking down expenses: How much does a septic system cost?

Discover the ins and outs of septic system costs in our comprehensive guide. Budget wisely for a reliable and efficient wastewater solution for your home.

Vivian Tejada
January 25, 2024
Updated:

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Replacing a home’s septic system is often an expensive and complicated home renovation. Homeowners should know that septic tank replacement isn’t a DIY-friendly repair. Chances are, you’ll need the help of one or more professionals to ensure your septic system is installed safely and complies with local land codes. 

Between materials, permits, and labor, it can get costly. This post will provide a complete breakdown of how much a new septic system costs and how to finance the replacement.

How much does a new septic system cost?

The cost of a new septic system depends on several factors, including material, type, property size and layout, and drain field conditions. Keep in mind the figures mentioned below refer to the septic tank itself, not the complete installation. 

Septic tank material

The price of a new septic tank depends largely on the durability of its materials. Septic tanks are usually constructed out of:

  • Concrete: Concrete tanks are some of the most common types of septic tanks found in homes. However, property owners should keep in mind that concrete is prone to cracking. Concrete septic tanks cost between $700–$2,000. 
  • Fiberglass: Fiberglass septic tanks are less likely to crack than concrete septic tanks. Their lightweight material can sustain structural shifts below the home, which minimizes the risk of tank damage. Fiberglass septic tank prices range from $1,200–$2,000.
  • Plastic: Plastic septic tanks start at just $500, making them less expensive than concrete and fiberglass septic tanks. However, given their flimsy material, plastic septic tanks can easily break, making them a risky investment for many homeowners.
  • Steel: Nowadays, installing a steel septic tank is rare. While many homes currently have such tanks buried in their yards, most septic tank professionals will advise against installing a steel septic tank as a replacement. Steel is prone to rusting, which makes steel septic tanks a safety hazard to your property. 

Property size and layout

Another factor affecting septic tank costs is property size and layout. The bigger the house, the bigger the septic tank needed. Homes with multiple bedrooms tend to have more bathtubs, sinks, toilets, and other wastewater sources than homes with just one or two bedrooms.

 Here’s a quick breakdown of how much a septic tank costs by house size:

  • Homes with 2 bedrooms require a 750 to 1,000-gallon septic tank which costs $700-$1,200.
  • Homes with 3-4 bedrooms require a 1,000-gallon septic tank, which costs $900–$1,500.
  • Homes with 5-6 bedrooms require a 1,200 septic tank which costs $1,200–$1,600.

Drain field conditions 

The drain field is an important aspect of many septic systems. Also known as the leach field, a home’s drain field is a series of underground pipes that dispose of the wastewater collected by your septic system. Not all septic systems require a drain field, but the ones that do are more expensive. On average, installing a drain field costs at least $10,000. 

Whether or not a home requires a drain field will depend on the efficiency of the septic system you install. Drain field prices are influenced by the size of a home's septic tank. The bigger the septic tank, the more expensive the drain field: 

  • A 1,000-gallon septic tank usually has a drain field size of 600 sq. ft and costs about $10,240 to install. 
  • A 1,500-gallon septic tank has a drain field size of 750-1000 sq. ft. and costs between $12,430–$14,370 to install. 

Aerobic vs. anaerobic septic tanks

Whether or not a septic tank is aerobic or anaerobic will also impact price. Anaerobic septic systems are popular among homeowners because they’re more affordable. However, some homeowners prefer aerobic septic systems because they’re more efficient. The price difference between the two is steep, with anaerobic systems ranging from $3,000–$8,000 and aerobic systems ranging from $10,000–$20,000.

Additional costs to consider

On average, installing a brand-new septic system costs $7,470. However, some septic tank installations cost as little as $3,600 or as much as $20,000. The quality of septic materials is just one of many price factors affecting septic system costs. When installing a new septic tank into your home, you also need to consider the cost of labor in your area, site assessments, permits, and other related expenses. Here’s a breakdown of additional factors to consider:

Labor costs

Installing a septic system onto a property is a strenuous task. While labor costs vary across the country, homeowners typically pay septic tank professionals $1,400–$4,100.

Design and engineering fees

Depending on the size of your septic tank and local regulations, you may need to hire an engineer to develop plans for your septic system installation. Design and engineering fees usually cost between $500–$3,000. While this might seem like an unnecessary expense, it’s best to abide by all land regulations the first time around to avoid having to redo your septic system in the future. 

Percolation testing 

Percolation testing is essential to determining whether or not a septic tank installation is possible. Perc tests analyze the soil quality and drainage capabilities around the proposed area of a septic system installation. Percolation tests usually cost between $450–$1,400, depending on the required tests and the soil’s location. 

A failed percolation test means a soil’s percolation rate is too low and may be unsuitable for a septic system installation. In this case, you’d need to explore an alternative septic system or test another area on your property. 

Permits

Local governments consider septic system installations land improvements, which often require permits before they can be initiated. Homeowners can obtain these permits from their state and local governments. The average cost of a land permit is between $320–$1,880. Keep in mind specific land permits need to be renewed every so often.  

Land surveys

Lastly, homeowners will need to hire a licensed professional to conduct a land survey. It’s important to make sure that the proposed site for your septic system installation is actually on your property. The last thing you want to do is install a brand-new septic tank beyond your property lines. Depending on property size and layout, homeowners can expect to pay between $330–$900 for a land survey. 

septic-costs

How to save money on septic system installation

As you can see from the figures mentioned above, installing a brand-new septic tank onto your property can get quite expensive. Here are a few actions you can take as a savvy homeowner to save money. 

Get multiple quotes

You first want to obtain multiple quotes from several companies specializing in septic system installations. Gather at least three quotes from qualified companies who are insured and have good reviews. Once you’ve created a list of quotes from trustworthy companies, compare and contrast the most cost-effective option. 

Purchase septic materials yourself

Another way to reduce septic system costs is to purchase the materials needed for installation. When requesting quotes from different septic system installation companies, ask if they would be willing to install septic materials you’ve purchased separately. Big companies may not want to install materials they’re unfamiliar with due to warranty or insurance policies. Small contractors, on the other hand, might be more willing to negotiate. Be sure to check in with your chosen septic system company before spending money on any materials. 

Regularly maintain your septic tank

Regular and proactive maintenance is crucial for preserving the longevity and efficiency of a new septic system — ultimately leading to significant cost savings. Homeowners usually need to service their septic tanks every 3-5 years, depending on tank size and water usage. Proper maintenance is key to extending your septic system’s lifespan and reducing the need for replacement or repairs. 

Here are a few actions you can take to keep your septic tank in good condition:

  • Dispose of waste responsibly: Avoid flushing non-biodegradable items such as diapers, wipes, or paper towels down the toilet. These items can clog your pipes or tank, causing your septic tank to perform poorly. 
  • Use septic-safe products: Certain household cleaning supplies cause damage to septic systems by interrupting the healthy balance of bacteria found in the tank. While hazardous chemicals won’t clog your septic system, they can still harm the bacteria needed to break down waste and cause inefficiencies.
  • Be mindful of your drain field: Regularly parking your car or placing heavy machinery around your home’s drain field can lead to soil compaction. Soil compaction occurs when air and water fail to circulate properly within the soil due to excess pressure. Planting trees or large plants on top of or around your drain field can have the same effect. 
  • Limit water usage: Using water efficiently is one of the easiest ways to avoid running down your septic system. Leaks and water pressure issues should be addressed as soon as you spot them.

How to finance a new septic system

Paying for a new septic system may be costly, but it isn’t impossible. There are several ways homeowners can finance repairs on their property.

Personal loans

Homeowners can cover necessary costs through personal loans. While personal loans are not recommended for property owners with less-than-ideal credit scores, there are some home improvement loans available for bad credit. If you have a good credit score, you might be able to take out a lower-interest or zero-interest rate loan.

Home equity loans and home equity lines of credit 

Another way homeowners can fund a new septic system installation is through a home equity loan or line of credit. Both financing methods allow homeowners to use their homes as collateral in exchange for either a lump-sum payment or a credit line. 

Access to lower interest rates makes home equity loans and home equity lines of credit an attractive option for many homeowners. However, the amount of money you’re allowed to borrow depends on how much equity you’ve accumulated in your home.

Home Equity Investments

A third way homeowners can use home equity to finance a septic system installation is through a Home Equity Investment (HEI). An HEI offers a lump sum of cash in exchange for a share of the home's future appreciation. Homeowners can buy back their equity anytime during the 30-year term or repay their investment through the sale or refinance of their property. There are no monthly payments, strict credit requirements, or income requirements. 

Final thoughts on septic systems

Installing a septic system on your property is a significant financial investment. As a result, homeowners should understand the factors influencing septic system costs and how to reduce expenses.

While preparing for a septic system installation may seem daunting, financing it doesn’t have to be. If you’re in need of a new septic system on your property, consider a Home Equity Investment from Point. Tap into your home’s wealth with no monthly payments or need for perfect credit. HEIs make handling a home improvement project or another major life expense easy.

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