Tips to Tell if Land Will Perk?

Started by MIEDRN, September 10, 2006, 01:24:58 AM

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Some of you may remember that I'm going to a tax sale next week.

I've done my preliminary research and have narrowed down the possible tracts to a few.

I'm going to look at them Monday. I know the general area but of course there are a lot of wetlands here in Michigan. One lot can be superb and the next nothing but wetlands. That is one concern but I think I can spot it.

I do have concerns about land perking but I can recognise good soil (I think). It's been rainy here the last few days also. Wouldn't it be perkable if there isn't any standing water?

Is there anything I should watch for? Most of the tracts that I will be looking at is lake access lots. Small but they should go cheap and it will be my cabin or practice home - unless I absolutely love it!

One is wooded but I'm not sure about the typography - the level in other words. A walk-out would be nice if it wasn't too steep!

I've spent hours on this research ruling out various tracts. I'm as ready as I'm going to be.

It would be nice to have land by next week but I'm not planning on it. I haven't had too much time to save a lot but in the past land has gone pretty cheap at these sales. I couldn't believe when the homeowners told me they bought their land at tax sales in the area.

Anything about the land itself that I should watch out for?


You may get an idea from soil types but better would be to talk to environmental health - the septic permit people - ask a inspector about problems and or call a septic contractor - ask questions.  

They should have an idea of local conditions - check with neighbors too - see what they did.

The only sure way in some areas is to dig holes - some places I have dug lots of them before finding an acceptable location.  The inspector is the one who says yea or nay on a profile hole.

One pointer an inspector mentioned is that where trees grow well things may perk better - trees need water -- but some will grow on really bad stuff too.


When I first thought of building, I thought I could take a shovel, dig a hole and see how long it would take water to be absorbed.

How naive was that?

At the health department here, they describe a back hoe coming in and digging a hole like four feet deep or something like that, filling it with a measured amount of water then timing how long it would take to filter.

Sounds like a way for someone to make more money to me.


That is what it eventually boils down to is costing money, but if you were capable of doing it you could probably do it yourself with their oversight - a good profile hole will eliminate the need to do a perc test most of the time ie: if the soil looks good enough to the inspector he will let you go ahead - perc tests usually require outside help - testing company as they approve of.

The purpose is to eliminate the possibility that your sewage will not be treated by the soil and made safe for natural recycling.  Lets say it hit a crack in the rock underground and ran directly to your well untreated then you made yourself a nice cool glass of lemonade ---  

Another thing that can happen is that natural water or seasonal water underground can be close to the surface or seasonally close to the surface.  It takes about 6 to 8 feet from this water to be sure that your septc system doesn't polute it and possibly your drinking water.

Unfortunate reality is that inspectors, backhoe operators, well drillers, testers, etc. have to eat and pay outrageous insurance, taxes and labor too, hence the undesireable fees.  Thats why it is cheaper if you can DIY.


Thinking back, I probably asked what a perk test was and someone answered:

"Ya just dig a hole and see how fast water settles in it."

I didn't realize they were talking with a backhoe and gallons of water!  ;D

Of course you're right about the expenses and making a living. My son made a living as a drywall hanger and he charged a pretty penny but was good at it too.

It's just hard to think of the money coming out of my pocket!


The thing to watch for is that they don't rip you off -- there are a lot of good fair contractors out there but there are a lot of crooks to.  Ask around - get references.