Conducting a Perc Test Before Buying Land

 Enter your email
Conducting a Perc Test Before Buying Land
Purchasing land is a significant investment that can bring as many issues as it does benefits. Identifying a percolation test (often called a “perc test”) is one of the main elements of the land-buying process. Conducting a percolation test will help to decide whether the land is perfect for construction or not, especially for septic schemes. This article will focus on the perc test and its significance, how it works, who is qualified to do it, the cost, and what to do if a property fails the test.

Table of content

Perc Test

Is the Land Buildable?

Who Can Perform a Perc Test & How Do They Work?

  • Qualified Professionals for Perc Tests
  • How Perc Tests Work

How Important is a Perc Test?

  • What is my plan for the property?
  • How much am I paying for the property?
  • How big of a problem will it be if this property isn’t buildable?

How Much Does a Perc Test Cost?

  • Factors Influencing Perc Test Costs
  • Average Cost for a Perc Test by Land Size
  • Perc Test Cost by Hole Size
  • Additional Costs and Considerations

Who Pays for a Perc Test?

What if Your Land Fails the Perc Test? Try These Alternatives


Perc Test

Perc Test

If you’re acquiring land—for agricultural or raw purposes—running a percolation test (or perc test) should be given the utmost priority, especially in rural areas. This test is decisive in determining the development suitability of the property, and the most crucial part of the test is that it evaluates a property's ability to support both a septic system and a retention system. A perc test evaluates the rate at which soil drainage is essential for properties with septic tanks not serviced by municipal sewer systems.

The test involves creating holes at the proposed septic system site, filling them with water, and measuring the soil's absorption rate. A fast absorption rate indicates suitable suitability for a septic system, which is necessary for managing household wastewater effectively. Conversely, slow absorption could lead to systemic failures, environmental risks, and health hazards, while too-quick absorption might not allow for proper wastewater filtration.

The outcomes of a perc test are critical for land development, influencing the feasibility and cost of projects. Failing the test may necessitate alternative waste management solutions or even render the land unsuitable for intended uses. Typically, local health or building departments require perc test results for issuing permits for septic systems, making it a crucial factor in the planning and development process.

Understanding the significance of a perc test is vital for prospective land buyers, ensuring sustainable development and the responsible use of land. It helps avoid costly mistakes and ensures the land can safely support a septic system, protecting public health and the environment.

Is the Land Buildable?

Is the Land Buildable?

Determining whether a property is buildable is critical before purchasing, and it involves more than assessing the parcel's aesthetics or size. It's about evaluating the land's fundamental suitability for construction, with a perc test playing a pivotal role. This test offers key insights into the soil's capacity to support a septic system, which is crucial in areas without municipal sewer access.

Buildability factors include zoning, topography, utility access, and environmental constraints. Specifically, the soil's ability to absorb and filter wastewater is crucial in regions lacking a centralized sewer. The perc test assesses soil percolation rates, directly impacting the feasibility of installing a septic tank and leach field for safe and environmentally friendly wastewater management. Slow absorption might indicate problematic clay content, risking sewage backups and environmental contamination, while too rapid drainage could fail to filter wastewater properly, risking groundwater pollution.

A failed perc test has significant implications, potentially hindering development plans and necessitating costlier, maintenance-intensive alternative septic solutions. Additionally, it may trigger further regulatory restrictions, complicating development efforts.

It's essential to ascertain land buildability via a perc test and other assessments before committing to a purchase. This ensures against investing in land that might not meet development expectations due to unforeseen costs or regulatory challenges. Understanding the land's potential and limitations through comprehensive evaluation helps secure a sound, sustainable investment conducive to successful development.


Who Can Perform a Perc Test & How Do They Work?

Who Can Perform a Perc Test & How Do They Work?

The perc test is vital when evaluating land suitability for septic system installation. However, only some people are equipped to carry out this essential procedure. The precision of a perc test is a crucial factor since its outcomes influence how on-ground processes will be executed and regulated. That is why there is a need for qualified professionals who are licensed soil scientists or any other certified septic system designers to come up with septic tank water quality tests.

Qualified Professionals for Perc Tests

Qualified Professionals for Perc Tests

Registered soil scientists have undergone specialized training that includes assessing soil properties and the related understanding of how these properties influence the capacity of the soil to hold water and filter the impurities in it. Also, these engineers with septic system design and implementation expertise have proper knowledge and understanding of health and safety standards rules, which should be followed within their surrounding communities. Similarly, most of these professionals must obtain a license, usually issued by a state authority, after having undergone the corresponding training required by such issuing authority.

Engaging a qualified professional for a perc test not only ensures the accuracy of the test results but also aids in navigating the regulatory landscape surrounding land development and septic system installation. They can provide valuable insights into potential challenges and solutions related to the property's soil conditions and septic system design requirements.

How Perc Tests Work

Conducting a perc test is systematic and tailored to provide a clear understanding of the soil's percolation rate. The test typically involves the following steps:

Site Selection - A professional selects the test site(s) based on the proposed location of the septic system. This involves considering the topography, vegetation, and other relevant factors that could influence the test results.

Digging Holes - Holes are dug or drilled in the correct test locations. Municipal ordinances set the size and depth measurements but are often around 6 to 12 inches in diameter and 2 to 3 feet in depth.

Pre-soaking (if required) - Sometimes, the soil may need to be pre-soaked to simulate wet conditions. This step depends on local guidelines and the specific requirements of the perc test.

Filling with Water - The holes are filled with water, initiating the test. The initial water level is marked.

Measurement - The time it takes for the water level to drop is detected and recorded in the sand cone over a certain period, 24 to 48 hours. This measurement is mainly noted in the rate of inches within a minute, showing the decline in the level of an inch per minute.

Analysis - The results are analyzed to determine the soil's percolation rate. This rate helps to identify the most suitable type of septic system for the property and whether any special design considerations are necessary.

Reporting - The professional prepares a detailed test results report, including recommendations for the septic system design. This report is essential for obtaining permits from local health or building departments.

The perc test is a nuanced procedure requiring qualified professionals' expertise. The importance of accurately measuring the rate of percolation of the soils should be emphasized, as this means a lot in the strategic design and installation of septic systems meant to protect public health and the environment. For every project in land development, hiring a registered soil scientist certified in the septic system's design is irreplaceable, mainly for peace of mind and project foundation management.


How Important is a Perc Test?

How Important is a Perc Test?

The significance of a perc test in land development and property acquisition cannot be overstated. As a fundamental evaluation that determines the absorption rate of soil for installing a septic system, the perc test is more than just a routine step—it's a critical assessment that can dictate the future usability and value of a piece of land. In areas where municipal sewer systems are unavailable, understanding how quickly soil can absorb and filter wastewater becomes paramount. This simple yet vital test ensures that land is not only buildable but also capable of supporting sustainable development without posing risks to public health or the environment. Thus, diving into the importance of a perc test reveals the layers of consideration that underpin responsible land ownership and development.

What is my plan for the property?

When considering a land purchase, your plans for its utilization are paramount in determining the necessity of various evaluations, including the perc test. This test transcends being a mere formality; it is essential for assessing the land's compatibility with your developmental goals and financial projections, especially in building a home. A perc test assesses the soil's capacity to manage wastewater, which is critical in areas without municipal sewers, directly impacting the feasibility of your project.

Implications of a Failed Perc Test:

Building Plans at Risk - A failed perc test may halt your construction plans due to regulatory health and environmental concerns.

Increased Costs - Alternative, more expensive septic solutions might be needed, raising the overall project cost.

Project Redesign - Failure may necessitate design adjustments or alternative land use, adding complexity and potential expenses.

The Importance of Proactive Planning:

The Importance of Proactive Planning

Conducting a PC test before finalizing a land purchase clarifies buildability, safeguards your investment, and aligns your project with the land's capabilities. Given the land's natural conditions, this foresight ensures your developmental aspirations are feasible, making the perc test a critical factor in planning and decision-making for potential land use.

How much am I paying for the property?

The financial commitment to purchasing property is a significant aspect of the investment decision. Understanding the magnitude of this investment highlights the critical role of a perc test in safeguarding your financial interests. This essential evaluation is a procedural necessity and a strategic measure to ensure that the land aligns with your developmental objectives and expectations.

Protecting Your Financial Outlay:

The amount you invest in acquiring land reflects your faith in its potential value and usability. A perc test is a fundamental step in validating this faith, particularly for properties where the installation of a septic system is anticipated. By determining the soil's percolation rate, the test verifies whether the land can adequately support a septic system, essential for residential or commercial development in areas lacking centralized sewage facilities.

Implications of Investment Size on Perc Test Importance:

Risk Mitigation - As your level of investment increases, the greater the stress that you need to put to prevent conceivable risks. A perc test functions as an essential precautionary stage in the process intended to flag any possible problems with the property that may limit its usability for your intended purpose. Recognizing these limitations early can prevent financial losses and ensure the property is viable.

Informed Financial Decisions - The results of a perc test can significantly influence your financial planning. Positive results confirm the land's suitability, reinforcing the soundness of your investment. Conversely, if the test reveals problems, you might face additional expenses for alternative septic solutions or even reevaluate the property's value and your willingness to purchase.

Enhancing Property Value - A successful perc test secures your immediate investment and contributes to the property's long-term value. Land supporting a conventional septic system is often more desirable and valuable, especially in rural or undeveloped areas. This attractiveness can be a crucial factor in future resale or development opportunities, affecting the overall return on your investment.

Permitting tests hang over your actual financial contribution to a property. That’s why you need to better understand the kind of noteworthy information this test offers prospective buyers. This scrutiny not only serves as a requirement; it is an investment in guaranteeing and exploiting your property's full potential. By having the property evaluated in terms of its suitability for the intended use of this land, the perc test avoids financial loss, backing individual decision-making and allowing you to estimate the value of your investment.


How big of a problem will it be if this property isn’t buildable?

A failed perc test raises significant concerns about a property's buildability, posing various risks and challenges for potential land buyers. The ability to foresee and understand these challenges is crucial in assessing the viability of a land investment:

Financial Implications - Discovering non-buildable land can lead to direct financial losses, encompassing the initial purchase cost and potentially decreased land value. The requirement for alternative septic solutions or substantial land improvements to meet building standards can escalate costs further, possibly making the investment untenable.

Development Limitations - Restrictions on development due to a failed perc test can derail residential or commercial construction plans, necessitating a complete reevaluation of the project's feasibility and scope.

Marketability and Resale Issues - Non-buildable land is inherently more challenging to sell, impacting marketability and potentially reducing resale value. This situation can prolong the holding period and diminish returns on investment.

Alternative Usage and Strategic Shifts - While land deemed non-buildable for residential or commercial purposes still holds value for agricultural, conservation, or recreational uses, shifting to these alternatives might not align with original investment intentions and may require additional resources and planning.

How Much Does a Perc Test Cost?

How Much Does a Perc Test Cost?

A perc test containing several factors that affect its cost is a significant hurdle to ensure that a particular property is suitable for the septic system, which is its most crucial step. The cost of performing this can vary greatly depending on the factors particular to the land, such as the complexity of the analysis, as well as any additional issues that emerge during the process. The following points are the primary concerns that result in the cost of a PWC, which are also mentioned as you might expect to spend.

Factors Influencing Perc Test Costs

Factors Influencing Perc Test Costs

Land Size - The size of a perc-designated area to degrade pollutants is one of the parameters of the cost perc test. The testing for large parts of the field would possibly require several test sites so that the infiltration speed of soil that will need water from the irrigation can be monitored accurately across the whole area. The increase of the testing spots would lead to increased costs due to the extension of the testing.

Number of Holes Required - The perc test cost also depends on the number of holes that need to be dug. Local regulations or the property's specific requirements might demand multiple testing points, each contributing to the overall expense.

Site-Specific Conditions - The natural and logistical attributes of the site can significantly impact the cost. Factors such as the terrain's accessibility, the soil type, and the presence of vegetation or obstacles can affect the ease with which the test is conducted, influencing the price.

Average Cost for a Perc Test by Land Size

Small to Medium Parcels - The cost can range from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars for smaller parcels, depending on the abovementioned factors.

Large Parcels - Larger tracts of land, requiring more comprehensive testing, can escalate costs, potentially exceeding several thousand dollars if extensive evaluation is necessary.

Perc Test Cost by Hole Size

The dimensions of the holes required for a perc test (depth and width) can vary based on local health department regulations or the project's specific needs. Deeper or wider holes, which require more labor and potentially specialized equipment, will naturally incur higher costs.


Additional Costs and Considerations

Site Preparation - Site preparation for a perc (percolation) unit, which may involve clearing vegetation or reaching remote areas, is commonly associated with additional expenses. Moreover, this must be the case to allow accurate testing and might involve extra human power or machine capacity.

Access Issues - Difficult-to-access sites can significantly increase costs. Remote locations, rugged terrain, or properties lacking developed roadways may require special equipment or extra time to reach and prepare the test sites.

Permits and Fees - Most jurisdictions require permits to conduct a perc test, with the cost of these permits varying widely by location. Additionally, fees may be associated with filing the test results with local health or building departments.

Professional Fees - The cost of hiring a qualified professional to perform the perc test can vary based on expertise, reputation, and demand. It's important to factor in these professional fees when budgeting for a perc test.

While the costs associated with conducting a perc test vary widely, understanding these factors will help you budget appropriately. The expenditure on the extensive and proficient performance of the PC test can be the net savings as it will offer insurance that the land is suitable for turning into a precise site you will be using. It is advisable to check with a professional who can provide you with an economical, precise, and site-specific cost estimate and ensure your property complies with local regulations.

Who Pays for a Perc Test?

Who Pays for a Perc Test?

When conducting a perc test, understanding who is financially responsible is critical to the land purchase process. Typically, the buyer covers the PC test expenses since the property succeeds in its intended purpose. Also, it makes sense for places where a septic system is necessary. For general expenses, however, there could be some room for negotiation.

Buyer's Responsibility

The principle that the purchaser must pay for a soil perc test is based on the purchaser's responsibility. Similarly, the land buyer conducts a PC test to assess the potential problems before purchasing the property since the home comes at a high price. It helps prevent a situation when it is revealed later that the investors have not checked the full spectrum of the restrictions and hidden costs incurred during the property development.

Protecting the Investment - For buyers, the perc test cost is a small price to pay for the peace of mind it brings. Knowing the land can support a septic system eliminates the risk of encountering unanticipated expenses related to sewage disposal after the purchase.

Negotiating Power - If a perc test reveals issues with the land, buyers can use this information to negotiate a lower purchase price or request that the seller address the identified issues as a condition of the sale.

Negotiation and Shared Costs

While the default expectation is for the buyer to cover the cost of the perc test, real estate transactions are inherently negotiable. Several factors can influence who ultimately pays for the test:

Market Conditions - In a buying market, sellers are trying to pull down the prices that are already low, and buyers may gain more bargaining power for the trustworthy seller to test the prices of the house at an incentive.

Land Desirability - An example would be a competitively priced property, which would make a buyer settle on the expense to afford the price hike. On the contrary, a seller could even budget towards such expenses so that easier-to-sell inventory will dodge the need for additional expenditures.

Precedent and Local Practice - In some regions or communities, there may be established norms or practices regarding who pays for the perc test. It's beneficial for both parties to be aware of these customs to facilitate negotiations.

Seller's Contribution

In specific scenarios, sellers might agree to pay for the perc test upfront, especially if they are confident in the property's ability to pass it. This can be a strategic move to:

Enhance the Property's Appeal - By providing a perc test report, sellers can attract more buyers, particularly those concerned about the buildability of the land.

Streamline the Sale Process - Offering to cover the perc test can expedite the transaction by removing an extra step for the buyer, making the sale process smoother and quicker.

Deciding who pays for a perc test in a land purchase transaction involves understanding both parties' interests and negotiating positions. While the buyer typically assumes this cost as part of their due diligence, there is room for negotiation based on the sale's circumstances. Both buyers and sellers should consider the perc test's implications on the transaction and be prepared to discuss who will bear the cost as part of their agreement. Effective negotiation and clear communication can ensure that the perc test is conducted smoothly, benefiting both parties.


What if Your Land Fails the Perc Test? Try These Alternatives

What if Your Land Fails the Perc Test? Try These Alternatives

A failed perc test, in the case of a landowner who has set his mind on building on his land, including a conventional septic system, is a likely setback that forces him to reconfigure the whole project. Though a failed exam portends doom, it does not mean the journey's end. Different options exist, but they could initiate more expenses and complications. Knowing these approaches may raise their level of awareness, thus enabling them to implement the same in their lives.

Engineered Septic Systems

The engineered septic system is suitable for use, whereas a conventional system would be non-viable due to high groundwater table levels, allowing water discharge. These systems were created as a way to make up for the lack of native soil that, through the usage of modern technology and design, leads to proper wastewater treatment and disposal.

Mound Systems - One common type of engineered system is the mound system, which involves creating a raised leach field above the natural soil surface. This system suits areas with shallow soil layers or high groundwater levels.

Aerobic Treatment Systems - Systems of that kind use oxygen to provide an atmosphere that encourages the breaking down of the decomposition process and wastes after they are released into the soil, allowing such systems to be effective even in areas with poor absorption.

Engineered septic systems are generally more costly than cement systems because of their complexity and, more often than not, because they require professional maintenance. Nevertheless, the best way to address this problem is if one is a person whose lot is unfit for a septic tank setup.

Alternative Waste Disposal Systems

Beyond engineered septic systems, other innovative waste disposal methods can be considered, depending on the property's characteristics and the local regulatory environment.

Composting Toilets - These systems treat human waste through biological processes that decompose the material into compost. They stand out as a superior solution for areas where neither traditional nor engineered septic systems can be effectively implemented.

Greywater Systems - Greywater systems capture water used from washing machines, sinks, and showers, which are used for seepage and non-drinkable purposes. Such systems can help soak in the loading of septic systems or serve as a subsidiary option in areas where soil absorption is a problem.

Regulatory Approval and Environmental Considerations

It is worth emphasizing that adopting an alternative approach to the conventional septic system presumes to have approval granted by relevant local health or environmental bodies. Getting the clearance would imply proper justification of the system where the wastes can be fully treated without hurting public health and the environment. Also, the places where it should be placed are the vital attention of a qualified professional to do this System design and installation to ensure they operate accordingly and comply with all official standards.

Cost Considerations and Long-Term Implications

While exploring alternatives to a conventional septic system, landowners must consider the initial installation costs, ongoing maintenance requirements, and potential impacts on property value. Engineered systems and other alternatives often require more significant initial investment and higher maintenance costs than traditional septic systems. However, they can also increase the usability and value of the property by making it suitable for development.

A deficient perc test is not considered a personification of a property's precluded development. However, it naturally leads to exploring potential inherent solutions to waste disposal. If considering innovative engineering septic systems, composting toilets, and greywater systems, among others, landowners would find any problem with poor soil percolation. Although these alternatives seem more expensive, they will advance the exploitation of the land based on the owner's interest and compliance with the regulations. This is how development that is responsible and sustainable will be enabled.

A percolation test must be run on land that is planned to be built upon. This will help ascertain the land's viability and the investment's exceptional standing. The test done is understood because you will know how it is conducted, and the results it gives you will make you make the appropriate decision when buying land.

Discover your land true value

Get a no-obligation offer in just a few minutes.

What is a perc test?

A perc test is an instrument typically used to evaluate the rate at which soil absorbs water. This finding is significant in that fast-absorbing soil allows easy septic system installation.

How much does a perc test cost?

The cost can vary widely, depending on the land size, the number of test holes, and site-specific conditions.

Who performs a perc test?

A qualified professional, such as a licensed soil scientist or septic system designer, should conduct the test.

What happens if the land fails a perc test?

If the land fails, consider alternative waste disposal systems, which could be more expensive.


Frequently Asked Questions

Selling land requires the right tools and timing to get the best value for your property. We know how important it is to choose a suitable company for business transactions of any size. So we've gathered here for you our most frequently asked questions.