Custom Home Tips

If you’re building a new home in an area that requires a septic system for sewage treatment, it’s very important to ask your custom builder “Will my septic system be a gravity flow system or a pump system”?

Both systems are approved and allowed by the health department, but gravity flow systems are relatively maintenance free and will provide you with the easiest way of handling and treating sewage water output.

A gravity flow system requires that your custom home is elevated to allow the plumbing underneath to drain into the septic holding tank. Your septic system is required to be elevated above the existing grade and the height is determined by a “Perk Test Engineer”. This height can sometimes be substantial and can range from 36-inches to 60-inches above the existing grade depending on surrounding soil conditions.

A standard pump system will allow your home to be at a lower elevation than your septic system. Sewage water drains to a pump station where it’s pumped into the septic system by an electrically driven pump. Your builder may tell you that a pump system is approved by the health department and that it costs more money to install than a gravity flow system, both of which are true.

And while a pump system can cost approximately $3000 more than a gravity flow system, what your builder might not mention is that the builder themsleves will save $10,000 to $20,000 on your custom home construction budget by not elevating the home itself. This savings is due to the fact that by not elevating the home, your builder is not required to install a stem wall foundation and add the fill dirt required to support the concrete floor slab, both of which are expensive. Many builders simply put these savings in their pockets.

By now you may be asking yourself “Why should this concern me”? Your home and all the utilities that service your home have to be inspected by the health and building inspectors. And their job is to make sure that everything is done up to code standards, right? Right.

The actual problem doesn’t occur or show its face until after all the final inspections are obtained, your builder has received the Certificate of Occupancy, the builder has been paid, and the warranty period for the pump system has expired. It’s not until the first time your electricity goes off, or your septic pump stops working properly, that you’ll notice the problem. And when it happens, your sewage water will back up into your shower… every time you flush the toilet!

So it’s important to remember that if you go with a pump system, the septic pump requires electricity to run and pump the sewage up and into your septic system. And the real issue is that if you arrive at this point, there is nothing you can do to solve the problem except make sure that your electricity never goes out (good luck with that) and keeping a spare septic pump on-hand for the times when it breaks down… usually just before a long weekend 🙂

You can not go back and elevate your house after it’s built to allow for a gravity flow system, and informed buyers may turn away from homes with a septic pump system when and if you ever decide to sell.

Always request that your builder installs a gravity flow septic system on your custom home!

At KENMARK, our multi-skilled team’s goal is always to give you the custom designed home you’ve always dreamed of, while being as cost-effective as humanly possible. With over 30 years’ of custom home design and construction experience, the KENMARK Construction Custom Home Building Team in Naples, Florida is dedicated to making your personal vision a reality.

Contact us at KENMARK today, and we’ll work on Your Vision together.

Click to call Mark Perry at (239) 348-9600.

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