20x30 Western Maine

Started by RIjake, May 07, 2011, 02:18:42 PM

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Do you not have enough good soil?  Do you have to pump up hill?  What is the "Elgin System"?

I have done some recent research into this area.  I am going my own system this month.  In ny state a grey water system has to be designed to dispose of almost as much water as a conventional septic system.  So I had to have a leach field designed for almost the same size as a conventional septic system.  The ARC Infiltrators are to run around $800, but I save almost $700 by not having to buy gravel or geotextile fabric.  I did my estimates for my system from based on the worst soil for a two bedroom. 245 ft lines Table 4A - http://www.nyhealth.gov/regulations/nycrr/title_10/part_75/appendix_75-a.htm

Here are the breakdown of costs in my area. It is upstate NY, so it shouldn't be too different.  I went over them with the building inspector to see if I had all the parts, rules and inspection process correct.
1 day excavator rental $400.
1000 gallon septic tank delivered in hole $650
100 ft of 4" line from house $170
250 ft perforated 4" pipe $250
24 yards (2 loads) of stone $600
1 roll Geotextile Fabric $100
1 Distribution Box $75
Probably another $100 on fittings
Whatever 2 days of your time is worth.
So around $2400 plus tax in materials for the largest two bedroom system by code.  My composting toilet alone is going to cost that much.  This is assuming a gravity fed conventional system.  If not, composting might be an alternative.


I think I paid about that for my septic and my system is very simply - 700 sq ft leech field and 1000 gal tank.  The excavator was $95/hr.  If it's not in your budget, than there are always alternatives (like grey-water systems you mentioned).  I wonder if it would be cost effective to rent an excavator and buy your own materials and DIY.   Another thing to consider is how a greywater system may affect resale value, property value (taxes), and insurance...
"They don't grow trees so close together that you can't ski between them"


Quote from: Squirl on August 23, 2011, 08:42:30 AM
Do you not have enough good soil?  Do you have to pump up hill?  What is the "Elgin System"?

Glad Squirl asks that question as I am not having any luck finding any reference to it.  Is it called by any other names?  (Cussing and swearing not an option.)

I get rerouted to Elgin, Or (been there) and Elgin, Ill (don't think I have been there.)  I did find some other sites questioning asking about Elgin septic systems and no real answers.  This is one area I do try an stay up on and I never have heard of it.  Also what Squirl quotes is about standard right now for around here as well.

As Jeff922 says do it yourself.  It is not all that hard.  I have put a couple in do it yourself.  If I can do it....   
Proverbs 24:3-5 Through wisdom is an house builded; an by understanding it is established.  4 And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.  5 A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.


Here's a link for the Eljen (sorry, I spelled it wrong the first time) http://eljen.com/Pages/GSF/GSFoverview.html

The soil is very well draining and there is no pumping required.  It's a very simple system using two 14' legs for the leach field.


14 feet is super short.  Do you not have enough room to go longer or wider?  Is the slope to great? (15%)  Do you know the perc rate?  I would be happy to help walk through the rules of a basic system. Remember you get what you pay for, so you can take it or leave it if the information doesn't suit you. You can always (and maybe should) double check my calculations. There are around 5 pages of total rules for a basic gravity fed systems.  I like rick's point, if I can do it...  My understanding is you are not in a code area, but I can try and do a few basic calcs under NY guidelines.

In theory if you have the best perc rate under the tables you could get away with 92 feet of leach field lines.  If you used infiltrators you could get a 25% reduction in that, or 69 feet of lines. That would be a distribution field of 3 lines wide for 23 ft.  That would be around a 23x26 leach field. That would be a very small field, and I can't imagine take up that much more space than your current two 14' line system. 
A few additional basic rules to follow that I kept jotted down for when I designed my own system.
The bottom of trenches must be 18" below grade.
The maximum is 30" below grade. (The higher the better, nitrogen uptake)
Gravel must be 6" below the pipe.  Gravel must be 2" above the pipe. Pipe must slope 1/16 in. per foot.  Add in the 4" of the pipe, the 2 feet wide trench and the length of your trenches to estimate how many yards of gravel you are going to need.
Trenches are 2 ft wide with 4 ft of undisturbed soil.  So they are 6 ft on center (from my septic engineer).

You can skip all the gravel stuff with infiltrators. 
Dig the same trenches.  Rake the bottoms and sides. Snap together infiltrators. Run the pipes all the way through the infiltrators.  My building inspector said this was the most common mistake he flagged contractors for.  He said it is in only some of the manufacturer's literature for installation. He stated that without the pipe, the effluent doesn't distribute property in the chamber and it fails faster.

Gravel is probably cheaper, infiltrators are probably easier.

You have what would be considered an alternative design by most standards.  I have only seen that done when there were problems with the site.  All you should need is what is listed under the "Conventional Subsurface Treatment Systems" area, unless there is a problem with your site.  It is only about 2-3 pages.

The major intuitive thing I had to overcome was frost depth.  That is taken care of by the separation distance tab chart.  This usually assures the D-box, Tank, and Field are far away from cleared or trafficked areas.  In areas that would have a frost depth below 18" would usually also have snow cover (insulation).  This combined with the microbial effect and residual heat in the water can keep most systems from freezing.

I also remember you are from Rhode Island?  If you have suburban family and friends like mine, they are reluctant for a composting toilet, and won't visit for the Humanure method.  That was another consideration of mine.

Sorry for the long post.  I am still trying to wrap my head around why you would need the Eljin System.


I went up to the land Thursday after work with a couple friends to bang out the first floor deck and get everything buttoned up before Irene hit.

Here's some pics

Everything wrapped up for the weather.  Advantech subfloor and tarp

And the obligatory "deck dance"  I'm not Irish and don't want to be mistaken for an Irishman ;), so no jig for this guy.  How about Peewee Herman


I love the PeeWee.

That has to feel good.

Barry Broome

That has to be the best country plans 'jig' I've seen yet.... very impressive!!
"The press, like fire, is an excellent servant, but a terrible master."


Yeah the pee wee herman is great!  You just raised the bar for dances.



You will know the truth & the truth will set you free


Three days alone at the site and all I got done was this

Actually I also had to finish nailing the subfloor and fix a stupid mistake that I made

Here's the series of events that conspired to form my nightmare:
-Install vapor barrier before the floor was on
-Cover vapor barrier with anywhere between 2-4" of gravel
-Install first floor deck including Advantech T&G
-Cover the entire floor with a huge tarp
-Then a little hurricane named Irene dumping 5" of rain on the above :(

Well when I went down there it was soup.  Between the three days I must have spent 3 hours hunched over in that hell hole of a crawlspace, shoveling mud, slicing the v.b. into 2' strips and pulling it all out.  I've got about 75% of it done.  Even after a day the areas that I removed the v.b. were already significantly drier.  The vents that I have installed and the beautiful warm dry weather we had helped too.

I'm starting to question if trying to frame this myself was a good idea............


Don't beat yourself up.  If you want to see some mistakes, check my thread.  It actually sounds like you are making good progress.  I know it is a hard thing to do, but try and enjoy the process as a learning experience. You will make plenting of mistakes and have set backs. Rushing or beating yourself up only leads to worse mistakes.  I learned that the only way I learn anything, the hard way.


I've decided to hire out the framing.  This will get me tight to the weather before it turns cold and nasty.  I feel I got a good NTE number from a highly recommended carpenter who needed a little fill in job before he starts a larger project.  He's going to raise the 4 walls, sheathed, no windows, set the roof including the metal roofing and set the loft joists.  

This takes a lot of stress off me.  The 4.5 hour ride is making it difficult to get friends together, plus, often my time off is during the week when all the "normal" people are working ;D

I didn't want to sub out anything but the foundation but it just wasn't realistic.  My main concern was leaving the deck exposed during the winter.  Once it's done the interior stuff can be done at a slower pace.  


Quote from: das fisch on August 16, 2011, 06:15:36 AM
looks like good progress to me. do you mind if I ask how far you ended up drilling down, and possibly what he charged you? our shallow well, not far from you. is just that; shallow, with a static level that seems to be only about 3ft up from bottom. if this doesn't work we'll be drilling too.

The well is 200' and it produces 20 gpm.  Total cost was right around $6500, ready to go, just plug it in.  It's great having water up there.  I have it wired to plug right into my generator until I get permanent power (solar/batt)


My framer took a couple shots of the progress today.  Wishing I was there instead of stuck at work for 24  [waiting]

Initially I was a bit concerned that the loft joists were going to be a problem, that maybe I would get too much bounce and the floor would not be stiff enough.  Both the PM at the lumber company and the framer both said that I was probably at the outer limit of those doubled 2x12.  I figured on sandwiching plywood to stiffen them up even though some here didn't think that that was going to make a difference.  Well, the framer was impressed with the rigidity of the joists.  He commented that it felt a lot stronger than he thought it would be and attributed that to the plywood.  I know a few here scoffed at the idea and for some reason thought that I was mistaken for assuming plywood sandwiched between the 2x12s would help.  I was very surprised that some thought that this common sense approach was ill-conceived. [noidea'  Well, I'm happy to report that it worked out as I had planned and the minimal added cost and labor was well worth it and added considerably to the rigidity and lack of deflection in the joists.

das fisch

very nice. i was up there today working on our place just up the road... weather was perfect; albeit a bit warm for my liking!


That looks great RIjake. I'd guess your very excited about it being dried-in now.

How long did it take the framers to dry it in and how much did it cost to just dry it in?
Click here to see our 20x30 and here to see our 14x24.


The framer worked with a crew of 3 men and it took them five days to get to where they are today.  What they did was raise the 4 walls and gables sheathed and typar.  Roof framing including fascia and rake trim as well as the metal roofing which is going on today and is not included in the 5 days.  No windows, doors, stairs etc.  I have a NTE price of $5200 which i believe will end up coming in a bit lower.
It's money that I did not want to spend and i really wanted to do this work myself but it unfortunately wasn't realistic for me to do at this time. 


I'm having a little trouble figuring what to do with the blocking at the top of the exterior wall between the rafter bays.  I do not want to use any vinyl on the house so vinyl soffit is out.  I like the look of Dug's painted rafters and underside of the roof sheathing so I have to close in the rafter bays.  Ventilation may be a problem. 

I have not seen many pics of this detail on the forums. 

Can anyone help me out here?


So you want open soffit's ?   Vented bird blocks /  anti-rotation blocks , generally are installed before you sheath the roof , after you roll trusses or set the rafters and ceiling joist.  It's easier to nail them in then , than it is after you sheath the roof.

  I don't have any photo's of this , but you can buy pre-bored bird blocks , generally three 2" holes  in a standard block.  You can cut "V" notched in the top of the block and make your own.

  When you insulate you need to make sure you keep the vent hole clear of insulation to keep the air flow path open.

When in doubt , build it stout with something you know about .


thanks Peg,
Yes I like the look of open soffits but i missed the window to put them in before the sheathing so i guess i gotta struggle with getting them in.


  The easiest way at this point would be to nail  short blocks to the rafter sides gauging them say off the outer corner of the top plate. Then face nail your rotation block to those. You'd get them straighter than attempting to toe nail that many blocks in.

What I generally do is square across the truss or rafter to that outer point of the top plate on either end of the building then snap a line  across the top of the rafters / trusses , then you use the snapped line for the top of the block and eye ball the back corner of the block to the top plate corner.  The result is a  straight  row of bird blocks that project out enough that most siding   can die into with a decent reveal line that can be caulked in  top of siding to bottom of B/B.

Hopefully you have some scrap rafter stock you could nail along side your rafters , they'd only need to be 12" long or so, square cut on the one end that you line up with the top plate corner.
When in doubt , build it stout with something you know about .


Ok, I understand.  Thanks


I spent a couple days at the camp this week and got a few things done.  

The bird blocking is done, with 2 1/8" holes that I bored out with a forstner bit and covered with screen from the inside, three windows are in, and one short interior partition is built.  I need a second set of hands to get a couple of the windows installed cause they're too big for me to lift.

Here's some pictures

In this shot you can see the access to the crawlspace basement that will be under the loft stairs.  I have not changed John's layout much except that I may not do the half wall between the kitchen and dining.  I've got a nice butcher block that will look good there.

Here's a couple shots from the nubble at the back of my land showing the placement of the camp.