Pressure Mound septic system questions

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by daviddido, Jan 16, 2013.

  1. daviddido

    daviddido New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    burton, MI
    I will start by apologizing for the basic nature of my questions.
    I have purchased property in a rural area and it is clay and limestone so a pressure mound system is needed. I have priced most of the parts, septic tank, dosing tank, dosing pump, alarm, sand, pcv lines and/or infiltrator field and all of this with 90 tons of sand for the mound at 4 feet deep is only about $4000-5500. I have been advised by 3 different septic companies in the area that this type of system will run $12,000- 16,000. I understand that en engineer should get a premium for his/ her knowledge to design the system but 10,000-12,000 seems like a lot of premium. I only am building a 1 bedroom/ 1 bath cabin. Is there any way I could do any labor myself, as everything I have found is that either a large boom loader must install each load of sand or shovels from the side as NO ONE is to walk on the mound area at all during installation of the sand and drain lines. How many man hours should I expect to need/ pay to have this work performed. I feel i am being taken, and the companies in the area are price fixing.
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    First, your local building officials will REQUIRE that the system be signed off by a licensed civil engineer. $12K sounds on the low side. You vastly underestimate the cost of labor and equipment. I can's see how this could possibly be a DIY project.
  3. daviddido

    daviddido New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    burton, MI
    Yes I agree I have no issues for paying for the professional opinion of a licensed engineer, but I am in MI and I can purchase a good used front loader for 12K and then do it mostly myself for only 1 project. I am trying to get input on the cost of labor. Even at 100-200 p/ hour it does not take 3-4 months of 8 hours per day to complete a project like this especially if part of the hourly rate includes the equipment use then it should go that much faster (that's why they are the professionals). If they have laborers using hand shovels they are not getting 100's p/hour. I understand the costs of equipment rental/ usage.
  4. daviddido

    daviddido New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    burton, MI
    I am not saying septic installers or plumbers are not worth what they get, I just want someone to explain to me what I am getting for labor costs of $9000+.
  5. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,195
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    I think your calculator needs new batteries. $200 per hour X 8 hours a day is $8000 for one week. Doesn't add up 3-4 months even on our metric system.

    Did you try to get the bidders to give you a cost breakdown?
  6. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    An hourly rate of $200 for two men would NOT include the equipment cost. And that ditch digger isn't getting $100 an hour, but his boss will charge YOU that. Have you priced payroll taxes, workers comp, etc. lately!!!!!
  7. daviddido

    daviddido New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    burton, MI
    yes, I did, They gave me estimates. 1000 gal tank= 750, dosing tank= 750, sand 90 tons= 1600 delivered, dosing pump, alarm, and wiring= 750, pvc piping and geofabric= 250 total= 4100, and a total of about 15,000. which makes labor about 11k???
  8. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    I would say your labor estimate is low, but maybe in your neck of the woods you could get it done for 11K
  9. daviddido

    daviddido New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    burton, MI
    Jimbo, It is interesting that 2 laborers without equipment would charge 200 per hour (their boss), but there are excavators out there with equipment that only charge 75-100 per hour using their equipment, skid loader, back-hoe, etc.
  10. daviddido

    daviddido New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    burton, MI
    I am trying to understand this labor estimate, what exactly are they doing that costs so much in labor???
  11. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,348
    Location:
    New England
    A certified, approved plan from an engineer and the building permits will add a fair amount to the cost, and the engineer's labor rate will not be inexpensive. Labor is always nasty...but, if I take my vehicle to the dealer, they charge $120/hour. I don't like it, will do things I can myself when prudent, but let them do things I don't feel qualified to do, or do not have the tools to perform. It costs us about $50 to get an annual vehicle inspection and emissions test...takes all of about 15-minutes...comes out to $200/hour; now, I think that's a ripoff, but is required to be able to drive.
  12. daviddido

    daviddido New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    burton, MI
    I am an automotive technician and understand the labor rate thing, but If asked I can explain what I am doing for what I am charging for, that's all I am asking. I see it as a level hole in the ground a large tractor can dig, not by hand, to put the tank in place, and then a field that cannot be dug, pressure mound system, so the area is cleared level, and lots of sand dumped and spread, again a tractor does this, not by hand, and then pvc pipe is laid down with some slope and a laser. I am having trouble with the high price of 11k for this. I have researched what is being done.
  13. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,348
    Location:
    New England
    There is a lot of manual labor to this, and if you are willing and able, you should be able to save a fair amount. The harder part is getting a design approved, then, proving it is put together properly per the plan. A GC, with a good relationship with the inspector can go a long ways towards making that happen fast. If you can live with delays, and can operate equipment, it can be done by yourself with some help along the way. Depends on what that time is worth to you, and if you're up to the work.
  14. daviddido

    daviddido New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    burton, MI
    so this IS a labor intensive project. That is what I needed to know. The websites, and what people say in the industry make it seem like it is all so easy, well apparently it is not that easy. Thank-You very much. 1 other question, the person/ company that I pay to perform my soil sample and perc test should have a engineer on payroll to inspect this stuff before involving the inspectors from the county correct?
  15. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,348
    Location:
    New England
    Probably, maybe not. He'll probably know who you should contact. One of the services a GC handles every day, and one reason they get so much to do it! Since he's been through it before, he knows what hoops have to be jumped through, and how best to get them done. Doing most of it yourself, you have to learn that, not saying it isn't easy in some cases, but can be time-consuming and frustrating as not everyone knows, but many will tell you (and be wrong!). The only way to know is to ask. IF your local inspector feels chatty, some are some aren't, some are so strung out, it's really tough, you may want to ask there, or at the permitting office, as to what the 'normal' order of events is.
  16. daviddido

    daviddido New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    burton, MI
    ok, thank-you very much for your help.
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