Feasibility Soil Studies / Perc Tests
Feasibility Soil Studies, a term often used interchangeably with “Perc Test,” are commonly performed as part of rural real estate transactions involving raw land, in order to inform the prospective purchaser of the suitability of soils on the property for the installation of a conventional septic system. The term Perc Test is still used frequently to describe this process, but it actually refers to a method (less commonly used today) to measure soil permeability by adding water to a hole, in order to establish the specific percolation rate of the soil.
There are a number of soil characteristics that are taken into account when evaluating soils, but other factors, such as the available area, available landforms (topography), buried utilities, waterbodies, springs, wells (on- and offsite), and existing structures, are all considered during a feasibility soil study.
Often, a feasibility soil study is requested by a financial lender, but the study is also regularly requested by prospective purchasers who wish to know more about the property and sewage disposal system options. While some properties are not suitable for a conventional septic system design, many properties that did not “pass the test" will support an alternative sewage disposal system design, often including the introduction of oxygen to the system.
Alternative systems usually require electricity, and range from fairly simple and roughly double the cost of a traditional septic system, to quite complex and three to five times the cost of a conventional septic system installation. Alternative systems also require a yearly operation and maintenance agreement between the property owner and the Commonwealth, indicating that yearly third party inspections of the systems will be performed and that all issues found will be resolved to keep the system running as designed.