At Tanks-A-Lot, we manufacture septic tanks and supply materials to the industry, but we don't install systems. Because of this, it may be difficult for us to estimate the complete cost of a project. In our Guide to Septic Systems we cover some of the costs associated with installing systems but don't discuss the procedures. Below is a look at these procedures as a 3-step process:
Step One: Budgetary Costing and Proposal
You will want to speak with at least 3 installers to get a budgetary cost; most likely they have done work in the area and will know what to expect based on the geographic region. Be sure to evaluate their character and ask for references from past projects. There is usually no charge for this step.
Step Two: Soil Analysis and Estimating
Once you feel comfortable with the contractor, you can ask them to perform the onsite analysis which involves digging 2 test pits, taking multiple soil samples, and sending them to a lab for analysis. Once they have the results they can design a proper system and provide you with a firm estimate. This step usually costs $1500 to $2000, but you can use the results of the analysis to get other estimates from installers and use this design for construction.
Step Three: Construction and Servicing
Once you have selected an installer, make sure that you have a completion date in writing; it is possible that installers will book too many jobs in a year and will be unable to fulfill their commitments, leaving homeowners to scramble in late season which usually leads to over-paying for work. Most installers will offer at least a 1-year warranty on their work and 20 years on the septic tank or wastewater treatment plant.
A few words of caution: Do not use installers that are not certified to install systems, and avoid installers that are too cheap; most times these installers are not building a proper system and it will cost you more in the long run.