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How Do We Get a Septic System Installed?

| 1/2/2015 9:07:00 AM

Land Soil Map

The Small Home, Big Decisions series follows Jennifer and her husband, Tyler, as they build a self-reliant homestead on a piece of country property in northeastern Kansas. The series will delve into questions that arise during their building process and the decisions they make along the way. The posts are a work in progress, written as their home-building adventure unfolds.

Let me preface this post with the most important piece of advice that we can offer to anyone preparing to buy land and build a home: Check the zoning and permitting regulations for the county the land is located in before you commit. Let me also say upfront that we did not do this, which is the main reason we wanted to start this blog — so that everyone who reads our posts can hopefully learn from our now very public mistakes. (To be honest, nothing insurmountable has come up, but we’ve had some close calls, including the one we’ll cover in this post.) And, lastly, let me offer one last background note: My wise grandfather, who spent his career as an engineer, warned me to complete a perc test on the soil before we purchased the land, and I did not heed his advice. Not that it would have changed anything, but it would have helped us make more informed decisions from the outset. Now, without further ado …

Septic system installations on rural property are most often regulated by the county in which the land is located. Where we are building, the Leavenworth County Planning and Zoning department is in charge of our poop. (Sorry, I had to say it.) They set the rules and regulations that determine how our septic system needs to be laid out and where it can be sited on our property. To obtain a building permit, we must first obtain a private sewage disposal permit, which requires the following (pulled from the county’s website):

1. Completed Percolation Test Sheet or Soil Profile Description Form.

2. Number of bedrooms, include future planned bedrooms.

1/6/2015 9:02:10 AM

Glad the article helped you out - and it's comforting for us to know people out there are on a similar journey! We, too, thought we could do composting toilets, but would have to install a septic system regardless, so decided to just go with it if we have to pay for it either way. Stay in touch with your progress!

1/5/2015 8:03:39 PM

Thank you for this article! After reading I went back & read the other entries in this series & found we are on the same journey. Having already purchased a piece of raw land, we are planning to build a steel kit home. We were hoping to be as off grid as possible. However, following a call to our local health dept, we discovered that while a composting/incinerator toilet is allowed, we must still have a full septic system installed for grey water. Bummer. So now we are beginning the process you have outlined above. I look forward to reading more of your journey & wish us both luck in achieving our land/home owning dreams!

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