Septic Tank Cost And Prices UK: How Much To Pay In 2022?

Septic Tank

If you live or are planning to move to a rural area, a septic system is something you should familiarize yourself with soon. Unlike in the cities, where your drainage worries end with a few plumbing issues, in the countryside, you’ll need to be a bit more invested.

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Due to the lack of proper sewage systems in most rural areas, septic tank systems are widespread in underdeveloped regions. A septic tank is a system that drains and treats all your wastewater, and it is a vital part of building a home or a business in the countryside.

The cost of installing a septic tank system will vary based on the size, materials, and location. Though the initial costs can be a bit daunting, the benefits you gain from a properly installed system are many.

Moreover, you can save some money by contacting several retailers and building contractors, comparing prices and choosing the one with the best services and most reasonable pricing. Keep reading to understand how the whole septic tank installation process works and the cost. One of the trade associations, British Water has a list of accredited wastewater treatment plant technicians who will install and maintain your septic tank or other types of the sewage treatment plant in line with current regulations.

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How Much Is a Septic Tank?

The cost of installing a septic tank system can vary depending on several key factors. First, you’ll need to consider the type of septic tank, your location, the size of the system, and whether it’s a new or replacement tank.

You can find a small septic tank for £800, while large ones cost around £1500. Then you’ll also need to factor in the installation and labor costs. If you’re going for a replacement, you won’t spend as much unless you need to upgrade the infrastructure.

There are several types of septic systems, each with a price tag based on several things. They include aerobic treatment unit, evapotranspiration, mound, drip distribution, recirculating sand filter, community, conventional, anaerobic, constructed wetland, gravity, chamber, and pressure distribution. On 1st January 2020 new rules came come into force regarding septic tanks discharging to surface water. To install a new septic tank you must have planning permission and comply with the UK Building Regulations as well as hold a permit.

Below is a breakdown of a septic tank system’s purchasing and installation costs.

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Factors to Consider For the Job

First, we are going to go through the installation cost of your septic tank. The price will vary based on whether you’re replacing an existing septic tank or going for a new setup.

Septic Tank Installation

Installing a new septic tank will involve a lot of equipment and time, which will drive the cost higher. You’ll need to look into several things to help you figure out exactly how expensive the whole process will be.

First, you must consider the pipework involved in the septic system you opt for. These will connect your household or business to the septic tank. If you’re installing a new septic system, you’ll have to include the cost of all the pipe work and labour. However, if you’re doing a replacement, you’ll already have the piping done.

Secondly, you need to know exactly where you’ll dispose of the soil you excavate. The holes dug for the tank will produce a lot that you’ll need to dispose of. Though you might need some of it for back-filling, a lot more will remain. This will also cost you, especially if you hire someone to dispose of it.

Next, you’ll need to invest in the foundation of your septic tank. In the case of a replacement, you’ll already have the foundation. On the other hand, a new septic tank system will require that you construct a new and strong foundation for the tank. An above-ground septic tank will have a different foundation from an underground tank.

You’ll also need to consider the materials used for constructing your septic tank. The available options are concrete, plastic, fiberglass, and steel. Plastic septic tanks are cheaper to purchase and easier to install. However, concrete septic tanks, though expensive, are more durable.

Labor is another thing that is going to add to your investment. However, there are some parts of the whole process that you can DIY to save some money. This could include straightforward tasks such as digging the holes needed for the septic tanks. In the case of grounds that aren’t very easy to dig or sensitive (water and gas lines), you should hire a professional.

Finally, you need to consider the type of contractor you work with. Costs will vary based on the range of services that each contractor offers. A specialist will not only help with the installation but also supply you with the tank. If you go with a local contractor, you’ll also need the services of a subcontractor, which can raise the project’s total cost.

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Additional Costs


Though permits are necessary, they are additional costs and will vary from one area to the next. To get a permit,the soil and design of your septic system will need to be considered. The size of the soil sample will depend on the size of the area, location, and history.

Soil Prep

Next, you’ll incur the cost of prepping the soil where you’ll install your septic tank. Since things such as shrubs, roots, and trees may harm your tank, you need to ensure that none of these is close to it. However, planting some trees and grass on the ground where your drainage empties is wise to prevent soil erosion.

Clog Prevention

Though it’s a solid and liquid waste disposal system, you shouldn’t flush the debris down the drain. Flushing things such as tampons, oils, cigarette butts, paper towels, and diapers can cost you additional fees. Besides clogging your septic tank, these things can also kill the bacteria that should be breaking down the waste.

Replacement and Repairs

You’ll also spend extra money on parts and components that will require regular changing and replacement. These components include the tank pump, risers, filter, lid, and a leach field. Most of these components are not expensive, but the leach field cost can be a bit steep.


Next, you need to consider the price of the septic tank type you’ll be installing. The cost of each is determined by several factors that include:


The price of your septic tank will vary depending on the type of materials you choose to use. Some materials such as plastic are cheap, whereas concrete, steel and fibreglass can be a bit costly. However, more expensive concrete tanks are actually more affordable in the long run. This is due to their longevity and durability.


Don’t overlook this simple factor. The location where you purchase your septic tank will contribute to the price. For example, if you are purchasing your tank in the South East of England or London, you’ll pay more compared to other parts of the country.


The price of a 1000-gallon septic tank will differ from that of a 2500-gallon one. The size of the tank you need depends on your preference or the size of your home. If you live in a 3-bedroom house, you shouldn’t get the same size of a tank as a person who lives in a 1-bedroom house.


Finally, the cost of the septic tank will also differ based on the retailer you purchase it from. You can either shop at a specialist supplier or a building supplies merchant. To find the best retailer, you should compare costs from different retailers and settle on the one that suits you best.

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How Do Septic Tanks Work?

Septic tanks function in two main ways: those with a soakaway and those without. However, as of 1st Jan 2020, it became illegal in the UK to install a septic tank system that drains directly into waterways.

Septic tanks hold solid and liquid waste for a period until bacteria break down all the harmful components. The solid waste settles at the bottom of the tank while the not-so-harmful sewage liquid is drains out through a soakaway. Bacteria decompose the solid waste that settles at the bottom, and the sludge that remains rises to the top of the chamber. This consists mainly of oil and grease and requires regular cleaning every couple of years.

When emptying the septic tank, the professional only needs to remove the sludge at top as the liquid water contains the necessary bacteria for breaking down waste. There are several ways of getting rid of the excess contamination-free liquid. One includes draining it through a soakaway connected to the septic system via pipes.

Septic Tank with a Soakaway

Unlike the septic systems that flow into a sewage plant system, a septic tank with a soakaway system does all the heavy lifting. Building regulations have made this drainage system mandatory for every septic tank.

Once the waste enters the septic tank, the solid and liquid waste is separated into different chambers. When the sludge reaches the maximum capacity, it’s time for you to have it emptied. The level of sludge that rises depends on the usage in your home.

Bacteria digest the solid that settles at the bottom of the chamber over time. As the water flows out of the septic system, any harmful components left in it are digested by the natural bacteria found in the ground.

Though a septic tank system pretty much works without any hiccups, you need to watch out for biomass created by the bacteria in the subsoil. If not addressed early, the sludge can build up and clog up the pipes in your home or leach to the surface.

To help ensure that your soakaway doesn’t have any unnecessary problems, you should be careful what you flush down the drains. Using biodegradable cleaning materials is an excellent way of taking care of your septic system. It will prevent the growth of bacteria and reduce the chances of clogging due to solid waste in the drainage field and the septic tank.

Different Types of Septic Systems

How your septic tank functions can also affect the cost. There are several types of septic systems, and each has its benefits and disadvantages. Below are some of the septic systems you can choose when installing.

Anaerobic Septic System: The underground anaerobic septic system is prevalent among homeowners. This system uses bacteria to eat away the solid waste; thus, it doesn’t require additional power or chemicals. The liquid waste gets piped out and runs through the soil to filter out any remaining harmful components.

Gravity Septic System: This system is one of the most affordable since it uses gravity instead of pumps. Gravity is used for water flow and filtration; the tank will need some risers to help with filtration. You should ensure it’s built with a slight slope to ensure that the flow of water is smooth.

Chamber Septic System: In the past few decades, the use of the chamber septic system has grown. It’s very friendly to the environment because of the lack of gravel; this system helps you leave a small carbon footprint. They’re also great for seasonal homes and cabins that don’t have consistent water flow. They are also popular due to their ease of construction and installation. They work well in locations with natural and good soil that quickly absorbs the effluent.

Drip Distribution Septic System: The cost of a drip distribution septic system will largely depend on the technology used. This system consists of drip laterals installed underground and doesn’t require a large mound of soil. It uses a pump to push the water at timed intervals, and you can add an electrical component for pumping at an extra cost.

Mound Septic System: This above-ground septic system is ideal for areas where the bedrock is shallow. The wastewater is pumped into the mound periodically, and the sand in the mound cleans the water as it flows out into the ground. However, this system requires a lot of space and can be a bit costly to install. But with no other option, this is an excellent solution if you live in an area with high groundwater levels or shallow bedrock.

Constructed Wetland Septic System: This in-ground septic system resembles the wetland system. The water that comes from this system is directed into the constructed wetland. This consists of sand, a liner, wetland plants, and gravel. Select plants with roots that won’t rot from lots of water since that spot will be wet throughout the year. The water flows into the wetland, gets cleaned, and then drained into a field.

Evapotranspiration Septic System: This system uses heat to get rid of the wastewater, which flows out into an open-air tank where it evaporates. The water doesn’t touch the soil but requires a suitable climate. It saves on money needed for extensive drainage pipes. The construction of this type of system requires materials that are water-tight to avoid any leaks.

Planning, Permissions and Regulations in the UK

In the UK, there are strict building planning and regulations that everyone looking to build should adhere to. These permissions and regulations also extend to the installation of septic tank systems. The UK passed new laws early in 2020 aimed at homes and businesses with septic systems that discharged right into surface water.

Using a qualified and certified contractor when installing your septic tank system is an excellent investment. Eligible contracts are up to date on all the recent regulations and laws in their areas of operations. This will help ensure that your project is done correctly and in a way that won’t cause you pain in the future.

The legislation also requires you to meet all the British Standards, including having a permit and necessary building planning permissions. Also, you should only install septic tanks that meet these standards. The tank should also be cleaned regularly and should never be allowed to exceed the max capacity.

If your home has a septic system that doesn’t have proper drainage, you’re now required by law to have that sorted out before selling. You must also inform the person who buys your home about the septic tank system.

To ensure that they know exactly what they are getting into, you need to have a written document that includes the position of your tank and the drainage field. It would be best if you also were specific about any changes you might have made to the system over time.

When looking for a contractor to install your septic system, you should also mention the number of occupants in your home. Installing a small-sized septic tank will be going against the new legislation. The regulations suggest that the tiniest size of tank you should invest in should be at least 2,700 litres. If your home has more than four inhabitants, you should increase the size to 180 liters per occupant.

A record of all maintenance done, routine maintenance required, and a full explanation of the drainage field and the tank itself should be included in the document.

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FAQs Regarding Septic Tanks And Its Installation

1. How long does a septic tank last?

There’s no one specific answer to this question. The durability of a septic tank varies based on the materials it’s made of and how well you take care of it. Concrete septic tanks can last for over four decades. On the other hand, fiberglass and plastic septic tanks can last for about 30 years. Due to rust problems, steel septic tanks last the shortest time (15 to 20 years).

Also, keep in mind that the type of waste you pour down your drains will affect the longevity of your septic tank. Things such as bleach, coffee grounds, paints, wet wipes, animal litter, and pesticides can negatively affect the longevity of your septic tank by killing off bacteria.

2. Can you empty your own septic tank?

It depends on whether you are a certified waste haulier. Only certified and registered waste carriers can haul hazardous waste. You’ll need specialized equipment to handle this waste, an authorized location for receiving sludge, and certified vehicles to transport it.

You also have to comply with the Environment Agency to work as a hazardous waste disposer In the UK. Otherwise, you can forget about emptying your own septic tank.

3. How much does a septic tank installation cost?

The exact amount of installation cost will depend on several factors. This includes the size of the septic tank, materials used, type of septic system, and your location in the UK. Your location and preferences will determine the type of septic system.

On average, purchasing and installing a septic tank will range from about £2800 to £4500. The price increases if you need any infrastructure upgrades or extra work done during installation. On the other hand, some expensive materials, such as concrete, are an excellent investment as they can last for decades.

4. Do I need permission to install a septic tank system?

Yes. There are strict guidelines and regulations that you need to abide by if you’re having a new or replacement septic tank system. Whether you’re working on installing a septic tank for your business or home, you’ll need to get planning permission from your local council.

If the septic tank is new, you’ll need to acquire both building regulations approval and planning permissions. On the other hand, you’ll only need to get building regulation approval if you’re replacing an existing septic tank. These planning permissions and regulations are stringent and should be adhered to.

5. How often should I empty my septic tank?

Though there are several factors that you will need to consider, the general duration of emptying septic tanks is between every three to five years. Emptying your septic tank system diligently is one proper way of maintenance.

Though some of the solid waste is broken down and digested by bacteria, the sludge left behind accumulates over time. This makes it necessary for you to regularly empty and cleans your septic tank.

Lack of emptying your septic tank will cause the solid waste to build up and overflow. If this continues for a while, the wastewater and sludge will eventually make their way back to your home.

6. Is it okay to have a septic tank without a leach field?

After the implementation of the new regulations in 2020, installing a septic tank system without a leach field is no longer an option. If you already had the installation, you’ll need to upgrade it to the newly implemented standards. 

However, the rules might differ a bit based on your location. So it’s vital that you check exactly what the rules are in Wales, Northern Ireland, England, and Scotland. Installing a septic tank system is costly; therefore, you should ensure you have everything you need before starting. You could also overlook the leach field if you have a direct connection to the central drainage system or any other type of wastewater treatment plant.

7. How does a septic tank work?

A septic tank is a domestic wastewater treatment system that uses bacteria to break down harmful substances. This system cleans household solid and water waste from the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry systems.

These septic tank systems are water-tight containers where the solid waste settles at the bottom while the less harmful liquid waste remains on top. The liquid waste is then disposed of in a soakaway. Septic tanks are made up of two chambers separated by a small flow way for the liquid.

Your waste is separated in the settling chamber, where the solid waste settles at the bottom as the scum remains at the top. Any liquid waste flows into the second chamber and flows out into the ground through the soakaway.

8. What types of cleaning agents are safe?

Cleaning agents that are not biodegradable is a poor choice and can lead to many problems. When shopping for cleaning agents, you should always go for those designed to work well with septic tank systems.

Most ammonia-based cleaning products are great and safe for use with septic systems. Also, any water-based toilet cleaners and disinfectants are okay for use with septic tanks.

9. What are the signs of a full septic tank?

When you start smelling a strange odour from your septic tank, it’s time to have it emptied. A properly maintained septic tank should never discharge any foul odours. However, poor installation could also lead to your septic system discharging a strong smell.

Other signs of a full septic tank include drainage and flushing issues. If you use a septic tank system, treat any flushing and drainage issues seriously. Don’t just use your plunger to force everything down.

Concluding Note : Septic Tanks

Septic tanks can cost anything from £800 to £4000 depending on installation and replacement costs and the overall price of the retailer or company you hire. However, now you have all the details to determine what kind of tank you want to use, the permits you’ll need to get, and the regulations you’ll need to abide by to successfully install or repair your septic tank. If things go smoothly, you can have a functional septic tank within a week, but it can take up to a month if you don’t get the necessary permits in time. Well, what are you waiting for?

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