Underground and Other Unseen Things
It occurs to me that some the most important things about building a home are either underground or otherwise unseen, from utilities to time and effort.
When framing was basically done most of the construction moved inside and I finally got a drilling rig into the back yard for our well. Drilling is quoted by the foot, and costs depend on whether you’re drilling through sand, clay, or solid rock.
You don’t want to have to go back and drill another hole because somebody made a mistake, so I hired Larry Sima of Sima Drilling, who I’ve worked with before. The Sima family has drilled over 20,000 wells in the Connecticut area since the 1950s, so I trust them to get the job done right. You can take a look at my well drilling completion report here. My completed well has to be fairly deep, 430 feet, because we’re close to the Connecticut River and we have to prevent infiltration of salinity from the brackish river water. We also had to drill through about 18 feet of sandy till and boulders, followed by about 10 feet of rotten ledge, followed by several hundred feet of granite before tapping into the aquifer.
A septic system is another thing many people don’t really think about. If you live off the beaten path like I do, every time you peel a vegetable in the sink or take a shower, wastewater goes down the drain into your septic tank. While “out of sight”, I think everyone should understand how their septic tank works. I’ve been working with foundation contractor Mike Evangelisti for many years on a variety of projects, and he has advanced knowledge of just about everything that happens underground.
Mike explained to me that sewage is retained in the tank for a short period of time as it breaks down into scum, sludge and effluent. Solid matter settles at the bottom of the tank, while greases, hair and fat float and create a scum layer. In the middle is a clear liquid that mostly consists of water, and that drains into a disposal area.
Your wastewater doesn’t just sit there - bacteria and microorganisms help break down solids and keep things moving through the tank. Drain cleaners, disinfectants, and discarded medications can clog your septic system and kill that bacteria. Non-toxic cleaners like vinegars, salt and baking soda will aid the organisms in your septic tank and potentially prevent a costly clog from forming.
You want to make sure that the system you want complies with local and state regulations. The Connecticut Department of Health estimates that around 40 percent of residents live in homes served by on-site sewage systems. Their website is a good source for rules and regulations and information on how to protect the environment by building a system that will serve your needs and the creatures that we share the planet with.
It’s hard to put a price on the time and effort that I’ve put into this project, from consulting with licensed professionals to my hours at the job site. Just like any other home builder, I worry about unforeseen circumstances affecting my project. These can range from a colder winter, theft, or unscrupulous contractors to fires, floods and other natural disasters. It’s completely necessary to my wits about me and an eye to the sky.
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