Septic System Design

If you are building a new home in the State of Vermont and your lot does not have access to municipal sewer and water, you will need to have a septic system and water system designed by a licensed engineer or designer and approved by the State.  You should not buy a prospective building lot without having a septic permit in place.

Here's how the process works:

Plan your project well in advance.  Depending on how many designs we are currently working on, it will take a minimum of 3 months to obtain a permit.  This includes our visiting your site, digging test pits, taking topographic data, mapping the site, preparing a design, and submitting your application to the Vermont Wastewater Management Division.  The State can take up to a month to approve or ask for modifications of the plans.

The first step is to call us with your building location and description of your project, and we will tell you what permits are needed and a cost estimate.  This initial advice is free of charge.

We will ask you:
Do any right-of-ways for water lines or other utilities cross your land?
Who currently owns the land?  Is there a transfer of ownership in process?
Is land being subdivided to create your lot?
Do you have a survey of your land showing boundaries and acreage?

Our design fee may vary depending on your location and soil conditions, and is for the permit application process only.  We require a 50% deposit upon signing the contract.  If we determine that a system cannot be designed for your site after testing your soils, we will only charge you the hourly rate for our time up to that point & mileage incurred.

Factors that may prevent getting your site approved include difficult soil conditions like high seasonal water tables or shallow soils.  There may be complicating issues such as proximity to a hazardous waste site, public water supply, wetlands, flood plains or water courses.  Therefore we do not guarantee that we will be able to design a system on your land that will be accepted by the State of Vermont.  However we enjoy a challenge and will do our best to come up with creative and economical solutions for even the most difficult lots.

Other charges you will incur include:

  • A backhoe operator for digging test pits - we will arrange for this service
  • The State of Vermont permit application fee - currently $245 for most single family residences
  • Construction of the system
  • Inspection fee during construction of the system - conducted by us, or another engineer

Note: we are not contractors and do not do the actual construction of septic and/or water systems.  Your construction costs can range greatly depending on soil and site conditions.  For your budgeting purposes, the average construction cost for a single family septic system in Vermont might be around $25,000.

What You Will End Up With
If our design is approved by the state, you will have a permit to proceed with construction of your system.  We will provide you with multiple copies of the plans that show topography to scale, existing and proposed building locations, water source location, the layout of all parts of the system  and all necessary construction details.  These plans will provide all the information a contractor will need to give you an estimate and to construct the system.  The topographic site plan will also be useful for architectural services and municipal permitting.