Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Retreat-Ranch in progress, part III

This is the 3rd part in a series of posts of how I got and built my ranch retreat land with a tight budget. If your new to this please see part one and work up to this post. In the comment section yesterday Joseph from Texas (I'm guessing that's where he hales) mentioned in Fannin  Co. TX there are septic permits required but building permits are not required outside of of town and city.(good to note for retreat options)(personally I think TX is a good option for a retreat) I was planning on moving on to the out buildings, but his post reminded me that the septic is perhaps the most important thing to consider when deciding where to put the buildings. Even if your plans are for an out-house it is wise to build in a location that will allow for a septic if you prefer to install one after the buildings. You wouldn't want to  build on the low ground that would require a pump for sewage; It is done in modern building code these days when its the only option. Of course no power will mean no septic. That's no fun. Also some locations will not allow you to install a septic,near ponds,streams and rivers, Perhaps even springs. They may require holding tanks, these do not leach liquids, there for they require pumping often, perhaps several times a year.The county planners office is generally the source for this information. Even if you plan on an outlaw septic, its probably a good idea to be within the legal guide lines. Also, on the subject of locations, Survival blog, has a very comprehensive list regarding retreat locations, covering everything from gun laws to weather. I think if I could choose; I would rather a warmer climate, other than that, I have on complaints.

I don't remember if I mentioned that along the way some mistakes were made, and those mistakes will also be covered in these series of posts. I'm hoping it will prevent others from doing the same; No sense in us both doing something stupid. The county planner will have all the information you need to satisfy requirements, some counties require that a contractor with a septic license be the one to install the septic system. This will also add a significant expense to your retreat, If you have the money, they will make the time; and getter done. If your like me and don't have the money; even if I did have the money, I could think of a million better places to put it, guns, food, building materials, a well, fencing, livestock,tires for the truck and still have money for more guns, or I know; a jet boat!.................... the point is, I have more time than money.

An outlaw septic is, as you might of guessed; a septic with out a permit. In the off chance a person is ever busted with an 'outlaw septic' tell them; that it was here when I bought the property-so I hooked up to-it......... Just let them prove otherwise......... Chances are, in a remote location no one will look twice. A friend of mine got caught before he buried his tank. He was asked to get a permit before proceeding. They only noticed him because he had a huge two story house already framed-up, and it was visible from the Hwy. Remember any information you give to any governmental agency is forwarded to another agency, for other reasons. A permit to transport a mobile home from point A to point B will likely be forwarded to agencies in location of point B. They may stop by to have a look around. By the way you cannot stop county tax and permit people from coming on your property. Ya, I know its BS but for now that's what we have to deal with. If you kick them off, they will return promptly with the law. If you used a gun to escort county man from the property you will go to jail-or die in a stand off. I suppose that's your choice, perhaps one could choose a better battle.

Wow how did I do that, going from sewage to shoot-outs. Anyway, A septic is very easy to make. I had a friend living in a travel trailer he mad a septic by shooting holes in a 55gal. drum then he ran a short piece of PVC pipe from the top opening slightly above grade then buried it. Ran his RV line to the PVC line above ground,,,,, Done.....He lived there for years, and it never filled-up, in this case he would have just dug another, had it filled. With the holes for the liquid to drain underground, it takes a very long time for solids to fill a tank. This is of course, is the same principle of a legal septic except the liquid is leached at the tank, rather than the leach lines.

The only reason, as far as I know, they don't want the tank to leach directly, is it will sit underground in a mud pit. This won't matter except it will settle some as time goes by. Remember that when your placing your line from the top of the tank set it up extra long, extending in side the tank so if it settles the line will remain going inside the tank. In colder climates you will need to have all the lines underground. You would still run your line to the top of the tank, but your tank needs to be deeper, and you would have your line coming out the top of the tank to perhaps 90 Deg. and continue underground to your building. By the way, sewer line from the hardware or building supply place is going to be cheaper than PVC.pipe. Follow the directions on the glue and primer bottles made FOR that type of pipe.( I know this guy,a dumb ass liberal, he installed a bunch of lines underground he thought the glue alone would work ,and he wouldn't need primer; after they separated he had to dig up hundreds of feet of water line, luckily he owned a backhoe, go figure, makes enough to buy a backhoe, but not smart enough to read the instructions on a bottle. Well, he works for the state. nice!)

Ok now for the part where I did the stupid thing, As we all know; the water and sewer lines need to be under ground, in cold climates the colder the deeper, Codes are a good guide to follow even with an outlaw tank. I have had a sewer line freeze, that sucks having to go outside for #2, when its 30 below zero. Its an experience one should do with-out, if possible. The code in my area is a whopping 6ft underground. I have my lines at only 2 ft, with no problems. In most areas 1ft will probably do for an outlaw. The first septic was a disaster. I wanted something larger than an oil drum. I had a plastic water tank that was round, about 6ft across and 3 1/2 ft tall. so I dug a hole by hand, big enough for this tank to sit 2 ft  below grade (there is a new style of septic tank that is plastic. They are capsule shaped, this type would work well its not the type used here). The line ran from the tank to the house perhaps 15 ft long and maybe only a foot deep in some places. That winter the drains started to back up. The lines had frozen.The ground is now frozen so digging is impossible, its harder than concrete. I was screwed. Spring came, the lines started to thaw the drains worked again, a welcome luxury after going without. Then the spring rain came. Well, the wet mud was just too heavy. The damn tank collapsed. A tank for hauling water,was not sturdy enough to bear out-side weight. It seems obvious NOW. But, at the time it seemed like a good idea.

The second septic worked much better, and has been in use for 9 years. I found a large steel tank a friend had it sitting in a scrap pile. It was perhaps, 7 ft tall and 6ft around. I rented a skid steer from town to dig the hole. This time, I dug next to the house, I figured no sense in running a long line from the house, more chance for it to freeze. This time that hole was deep, maybe 13 ft down right next to the house. The sewer line ran under the house then angled down from under the house right into the top of the tank. I had used a blow torch to cut leach holes in the top half of the tank, basically holes all over, in no order. the line from the house, runs at a bout 45 deg, under ground into the tank, and reaches several feet inside the tank. This way if the tank settles the line will remain in side it. I have never had a problem since.

Here are some other things I know on this subject: Outlaw tanks are common, most ranches do this for the other smaller houses. An outhouse is easy to build, and cheap or free if you use scrap lumber. It would have been nice to have an outhouse when the septic failed, besides they add character to a place, if you have outside guests in the warm months it could be handy. If you dig sewer lines and for some reason you can't get them deep enough, Cut scrap pieces of (OSB) strand board in strips, place them over the line then bury-it. Also mounding dirt over the septic tank or line will also help prevent from freezing. I have seen a new type of plastic septic tank, also a cistern, either or. the type I saw was yellow not the white type. In the farm supply store. They were cheap maybe 350 or so. They are made to be buried so there much stronger than a water hauling tank. Traditional septic and cistern tanks are cement, You will need heavy equipment to move them. The plastic ones you can drag by hand. Digging in most areas is easiest in the spring. Hauling water to your site with a pick-up water tank can help digging keep soaking the hole then dig the mud. I would also check the prices of a rental skidsteer, A backhoe is nice but if you haven't  used them it will take most of the day to learn, on a rental time is money.

Happy Trails!

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