Buying a home in the country can be your gateway to a quieter, simpler life, but it can also pose its own challenges. If you are looking to buy land for sale for residential development that cannot be connected to a nearby sewer line, for example, you will need to find an alternative waste management system. By far the most popular solution is a septic system, but not every piece of land for sale is suitable for a healthy septic field. Before you sign any agreements, follow these four steps to make sure your new property has adequate soil and drainage.
You may not put much thought into the dirt beneath your feet, but you should thoroughly understand the geologic profile of any piece of property you buy. For example, different areas have different bedrock depths, or the number of feet of soil until you hit hard rock. Septic systems need a certain amount of room to drain adequately; otherwise, the grass above the field may become marshy. Often, bedrock depth is determined as part of a standard soil test.
Conducting a Soil Test
A soil test typically involves digging down to bedrock or the reasonable depth of a septic field and then removing a segment of the soil layers for inspection. Specialists examine this slice of soil to determine its composition, drainage, and water levels, creating a detailed report of the geographic conditions under the land. Too much clay, compacted dirt, or a high water table can all disqualify a septic system, at least on that part of the property.
Your state may also require that the land undergo a percolation test, which is a practical simulation of the effects of a septic system. During a percolation test, holes or trenches are dug, saturated, and then monitored as water is run through the potential drainage field. If the absorption rates are adequate, the land is cleared for a septic system. Generally, it is wise to request both a soil and a percolation test before buying any land you plan to develop.
Considering Your Other Options
Even if your dream property doesn't have the right type of topography for a conventional septic system, you may not be out of luck. There are more customized options available, including building mounds that will replicate the form and function of any other septic field. Talk to your real estate agent or development contractor about any concerns you may have regarding the geography of land you intend to buy. With foresight and all of the right testing, you should be able to begin building your new home without any unfortunate surprises popping up along the way.