If your home isn’t hooked up to a municipal sewer system, your alternative is a septic system, which includes a container buried underground on your property that holds and treats the water and waste that leaves your home via plumbing pipes.
Whether you’re looking to install a septic system as part of a new construction home or to replace an old septic system, septic tanks should be installed by professionals only. The complexity and scale of the project requires heavy machinery, careful digging and plumbing hookups that could prove disastrous if done incorrectly.
Septic tank installation requires initial ground tests to ensure the soil is suitable to hold a septic tank. Properties where the ground floods often, for example, would face frequent septic problems. Depending on where you live, you’ll likely need a permit to move forward with the installation, and an engineer will need to design the system including the tank’s placement and the location of the drain field, which is where water is allowed to leave the septic tank and be absorbed into the soil.
A contractor must then dig in the area of the tank and drain field for installation, which includes plumbing hookups to the home. Throughout the process and upon completion, the system will likely need to be inspected and approved for the permitting process to be complete.
From beginning to end, installing a septic system requires detailed planning, the expertise of a professional and at least a few thousand dollars to get the job done right. Here’s what you need to know about the cost to install and maintain a septic tank.
[Read: 8 DIY Bathroom Remodel Projects]
How Much Do Septic Tanks Cost?
The national average cost for a septic tank installation is $6,037, according to home improvement information site and network HomeAdvisor.
If you’re replacing your septic tank or system, this cost is in addition to any repair attempts you may have already made. Keep in mind that the old tank will need to be removed as well, which will either be worked into the total cost of installation or considered a separate cost by the septic system contractor.
“If problems get to the point where an entire septic system must be replaced, the costs can range from $3,000 to $10,000,” says Glenn Gallas, vice president of operations for Mr. Rooter Plumbing, a national plumbing company based in Waco, Texas.
Depending on the size and location of your home, as well as the size and material of your tank and your preferred type of septic system, you may find yourself paying even more. HomeAdvisor reports that aerobic septic systems, which use oxygen-loving bacteria to break down waste and require an air pump and more than one tank, can cost up to $20,000 to install.
A septic tank can be made of four types of material:
- Concrete. This is the most common septic tank material and can last decades, but is prone to cracking.
- Plastic. A less expensive material, plastic is lightweight and can lead to structural damage.
- Fiberglass. The light weight of fiberglass means it can sustain structural damage or shift from its position, but it’s less likely to crack.
- Steel. Steel can rust and the cover may corrode over time, which becomes a safety hazard in your yard. Steel is the least popular material used today.
You’ll also need to know how big your septic tank should be, which is based on the size of your house:
- 750-gallon tank for a home under 1,500 square feet, one or two bedrooms.
- 1,000-gallon tank for a home under 2,500 square feet, three bedrooms.
- 1,250-gallon septic tank for a home between 3,500 and 4,500 square feet, four or five bedrooms.
For a septic tank under 1,000 gallons, the tank itself will likely cost between $600 and $1,000, according to HomeAdvisor, while a tank that's 1,200 gallons or more is more likely to cost $1,200 to $1,600.
The amount of time it takes to install a septic tank varies based on the weather, type of soil and other factors. Heavy rains that saturate the soil will delay an installation, says Michael DeCosta, director of branch operations for mergers and acquisitions for Wind River Environmental, a mechanical systems contracting company that installs and repairs septic tanks, among other specialties. Rocky ground can slow the process, making it last a week or more. On the other side, "You go to Florida, you go to Cape Cod where there's a lot of sand, those installs are a day," says DeCosta, who is based in the Boston area.
[Read: The Guide to Home Renovations.]
How to Get an Installation Cost Estimate
Before you contact a septic system installer, you'll need to check with your local governing body, such as the city or county, to see what is required to obtain a permit for the installation.
In many places, the local planning board or board of health will have a list of licensed engineers to choose from to design a septic system, DeCosta says. The engineer's plans, which take into account the water table, underground water lines, wells and required setbacks from neighbors' property lines, will then go before the local governing board for approval.
"Once any plans are approved, then you can take the plans and give them to different septic installers for pricing and guidance," DeCosta says.
The total cost of your septic system installation varies based on your house, the size of your property, nearest floodplain, soil, preferred tank material and myriad other details. To find out the true cost of your installation, you’ll need to get an estimate. A septic installation professional will likely want to visit your property, take measurements and examine any issues if you’re looking to replace any part of your current septic system.
Reach out to multiple local septic installation or replacement companies to get a few estimates based on the details of your home. While multiple professional visits for estimates may seem like a lot, the knowledge you gain from each conversation can help you decide which company offers the best materials and timeline for you – not just which company offers the lowest price.
Additional Septic System Components
There are other parts of a septic system you may need to include if you’re installing a new system or replacing an old one. Here are some of the components that make up the total cost of a septic system installation or add to the cost of replacing a tank:
- Sewer line.
- Distribution box.
- Field lines.
- Drain field or leach field.
- Tank pump.
- Tank lid.
- Tank tee.
Gallas explains that the sewer line, septic tank, distribution box and field lines can be replaced separately if only one or two components appear to be causing the issue. But if the system overall is having significant issues, replacing only one part “is like putting new tires on a car when the engine is about to quit,” Gallas says.
The Cost of Maintaining or Repairing Your Septic Tank
With proper maintenance, a septic system can last as long as 25 or 30 years for a home, according to Gallas. Maintenance is key, however, because small issues can build up over time and cause larger problems.
You will occasionally need your septic tank pumped, in addition to other maintenance, and Gallas says the frequency depends on the size of your house. Some experts recommend that a home septic be pumped every three to five years. A routine septic pump by a professional can range between $100 and $300, Gallas says.
If you notice issues with your plumbing or experience water backing up into the home, call a plumber to diagnose the issue. It may be a matter of a clogged pipe, but it could also indicate a problem with your drain field, a cracked or damaged septic tank, excess water in the tank or items and chemicals in your septic tank that should not have gone down the drain. HomeAdvisor reports that a plumber costs, on average, between $45 and $200 per hour, depending on where you live.
What will your budget let you renovate?
These days, many homeowners are opting to stay put and renovate rather than search for a new house. According to Houzz’s 2019 study of renovations in the U.S., the median amount spent on renovations in 2018 was $15,000, and as of June last year, homeowners renovating in 2019 planned to spend a median total of $10,000 on their projects. But how far will your budget get you? Read on for a cost breakdown of 12 popular home renovation projects to help you decide the best ways to spend your remodel money.
Updated on May 14, 2020: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.Kitchen
It doesn’t matter if you’re a gourmet chef or a microwave connoisseur – you want a welcoming kitchen that makes the space worthy of spending time, not just prepping food. A kitchen renovation is the most common planned project for homeowners, according to the Houzz study, with 30% of respondents noting they plan to remodel or add to their kitchen. But it’s also a costly project. Remodeling Magazine’s 2020 Cost vs. Value report breaks down the national average cost for kitchen remodels:
Midrange minor kitchen remodel: $23,452
Midrange major kitchen remodel: $68,490
Upscale major kitchen remodel: $135,547
How much you’ll spend all depends on your planned makeover. Read on for a breakdown of some popular kitchen updates.Kitchen: cabinets and countertops
Kitchen: cabinets and countertops
Cabinets and countertops are two of the most visible aspects in a kitchen, not to mention that they take up the most space. You have a lot of price wiggle room when it comes to material and installation of both: The installation for countertops alone can range from $1,000 for wood to $11,500 for stainless steel, according to HomeAdvisor. For a kitchen with 30 square feet of counter space and 40 linear feet of cabinets, here are some cost estimates for materials, based on HomeAdvisor information:
Budget: $4,200 for stock cabinets, butcher block countertop.
Midrange: $23,570 for semicustom cabinets, midrange quartz or granite countertop.
Splurge: $65,850 for custom cabinets, marble countertop.
Kitchen: new appliances
If you’re not looking to drop $60,000 on surfaces, consider freshening your kitchen with new appliances. Stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s often offer significant discounts if you purchase kitchen appliances in a package deal, with the added benefit of having the same brand appliances that match in color and style. Consider these budget options to replace your refrigerator, range, dishwasher and microwave all at once (based on prices listed as of mid-May 2020). You’re more likely to get a deal on appliance purchases close to the end of the month, on a holiday weekend or just after the New Year.
Budget: $1,860 for mixed brand.
Midrange: $2,523 for Whirlpool Kitchen Suite through Home Depot.
Splurge: $4,959 for LG Kitchen Suite through Home Depot.
Kitchen: knocking down walls
Removing a wall tends to cost the same in every room, but these days it is often done in the kitchen to create a more open floor plan. Wall demolition costs vary based on whether the wall is load-bearing – meaning it’s a key part of the house’s structure – or if there is plumbing or electrical wiring running through it. HomeAdvisor provides national averages for the cost of removing a wall:
Budget: $300 to $1,000 for a wall that doesn’t bear any weight.
Midrange: $1,200 to $3,000 for a load-bearing wall in a single-story house.
Splurge: $3,200 to $10,000 for a load-bearing wall with two or more stories.
The second- and third-most popular home renovations, according to the Houzz study, both fall under the bathroom category, covering guest or secondary bathrooms and master bathrooms. Current design trends show homeowners want a spa experience in their bathroom, whether that means a rain-style showerhead, double vanities or exquisite tile work. Remodeling Magazine separates the cost of remodeling a bathroom into two categories, based on national averages for 2020:
Midrange bathroom remodel: $21,377
Upscale bathroom remodel: $67,106
Beautiful tile in a bathroom can make the room a showpiece in your home, not just a necessary space for privacy. But depending on your tastes, new tile can get pricey. Home renovation cost estimate site RemodelingCalculator.org notes the material and installation costs increase with the intricacy of the design and rarity of the material. Based on Remodeling Calculator’s estimated costs, here’s some pricing to consider:
Budget: $4.60 per square foot for ceramic tile, $3.80 to $6.70 per square foot to install.
Midrange: $6.70 per square foot for granite tile, $5.45 to $7.50 per square foot to install.
Splurge: Up to $25 per square foot for custom mosaic tile, anywhere from $15 to $300 per square foot to install.
Bathroom: moving plumbing and drains
Plumbing changes are often one of the most expensive parts of a renovation. If you’re looking to relocate the toilet, shower or sink in your bathroom, the cost to move both the plumbing for water and the drains can add up quickly. Home remodeling cost guide Fixr reports the cost to move a single plumbing appliance more than three feet ranges from $500 to $1,000 – and that’s just for the change in floor plan. Be sure to factor in the cost of new fixtures and any additional work related to opening up the floor and walls.
Budget: $500 to $1,000 to move a shower.
Midrange: $1,000 to $2,000 to move a shower and toilet.
Splurge: $1,500 to $3,000 to move a shower, toilet and sink.
Without plumbing and appliances to worry about, renovating a bedroom is more attainable for someone with a small budget than a bathroom or kitchen. Often a fresh coat of paint can do the trick to bring new life to a bedroom, but sometimes a little more work is involved. Fixr estimates the national average to completely remodel a room – from replacing the drywall on the walls and ceiling to new flooring – at nearly $8,000.
Budget: $200 for paint and painting materials.
Midrange: $800 for high-end painting, professionally done.
Splurge: $7,880 for new walls, windows, floors, lighting, etc.
Bedroom: master suite addition
Sometimes the bedroom you have isn’t the one you want or need. Master suites are frequently high on the list of homebuyer wants, but they’re also not always common in older houses. Building an addition to a house is an extensive project that will cost you a lot of money, but your investment does come back to you, at least somewhat, in the increase in property value. Remodeling Magazine notes a master suite addition recoups just over 51% of the cost in resale value for upscale projects and more than 58% for midrange projects. Here are the average costs for both projects, per the Cost vs. Value report:
Midrange master suite addition: $136,739
Upscale master suite addition: $282,062
A custom closet that will transform the space to fit all your clothes and provide extra room for storage is the dream for many, but it can cost you. The overall price tag will vary depending on the size of the closet and how customized you want the space to be – a hanging rod and a couple shelves can be had for a few hundred dollars, but once you factor in wood finishes, built-in shoe racks and rolling drawers, that price tag climbs. Here’s what Fixr estimates for closet costs:
Budget: $400 to $1,000 for a reach-in closet.
Midrange: $300 to $3,000 for walk-in closet.
Splurge: $400 to $6,500 for custom closet.
Once your kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms are finished, it’s time to tackle those rooms that aren’t as frequently used but can make a big impact on your daily life. A revamped laundry room can be just the ticket to taking the household chore of cleaning clothes from a hassle to downright enjoyable. The cost to redo or build a laundry room varies based on what you have already and whether you need plumbing and electric moved. Canyon Creek Cabinet Company breaks down the range of costs depending on if flooring is replaced, whether appliances are new and if professionals are required.
Midrange: $6,000 to $7,000.
Splurge: $12,000 to $14,000.
While it’s more out of necessity than luxury, your roof is certainly a major home improvement project to consider if you’ve experienced leaks or it’s near the end of its functional life (about 25 years). It’s possible you’ll only need repairs to the existing roof to ensure the rest of your house is protected from the elements, but you may need an entirely new roof installed. The total cost of roof repair or replacement depends on the type of roof you currently have and the size of your home. For a typical 2,000-square-foot house, HomeAdvisor estimates the following costs:
Budget: $150 to $5,000 for repairs.
Midrange: $5,300 to $11,000 for new asphalt shingle roof.
Splurge: $18,000 to $45,000 for a new slate roof.
Here’s what you can expect to pay for your home renovation project:
- Full kitchen renovation: $23,452 to $135,547.
- Kitchen cabinets and countertops: $4,200 to $65,850.
- Kitchen appliances: $1,860 to $4,959.
- Wall removal: $300 to $10,000.
- Full bathroom renovation: $21,377 to $67,106.
- Bathroom tile: $4.60 to $25 per square foot for tile, $3.80 to $300 per square foot to install.
- Bathroom plumbing and drain relocation: $500 to $3,000.
- Full bedroom renovation: $200 to $7,880.
- Master suite addition: $136,739 to $282,062.
- Closet: $400 to $6,500.
- Laundry room: $2,000 to $14,000.
- Roof repair or replacement: $150 to $45,000.
She has appeared in media interviews across the U.S. including National Public Radio, WTOP (Washington, D.C.) and KOH (Reno, Nevada) and various print publications, as well as having served on panels discussing real estate development, city planning policy and homebuilding.
Previously, she served as a researcher of commercial real estate transactions and information, and is currently a member of the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Thorsby studied Political Science at the University of Michigan, where she also served as a news reporter and editor for the student newspaper The Michigan Daily. Follow her on Twitter or write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 11, 2020
U.S. News analyzed the 150 most populous metro areas to rank places to live by category.