From Design to Installation – An Inside Look at the Septic Design Process

From Design to Installation – An Inside Look at the Septic Design Process

Do you fall into one of these two categories? 

One, you own property and want a septic system installed on it. Two, you want to buy a property and eventually put a septic system on it. 

Either way, this question may have popped into your mind: “What is the process of getting a septic system?” It’s a good question to ask because it will require no small investment of time and money from you. 

To answer your question, the BBB Septic team wrote this blog to walk you through the process. After reading this, you should have a good idea of what to expect! 

To learn more about the process of getting a septic system, we invite you to keep reading.

If you don’t have “good soil”, your municipality will prohibit the installation of a septic system.

The First and Most Important Factor

Your property’s soil is the most important part of your septic system design. If your soil has too much natural moisture or clay in it, then your municipality won’t allow us to install a septic system for you. 

To qualify for a septic system, you’ll need to have an adequate amount of “good” soil. This soil will separate your effluent or wastewater from groundwater (which we drink) and bedrock. 

Without the right kind and amount of soil, a septic system can’t work properly.

During morphology testing, one of the things we look at is soil texture.

Soil Science

The old method of assessing soil is called percolation testing or a “perc test”. It consisted of digging a 12-inch hole, pouring water into it, and seeing how fast the water drained out of the hole. But… 

It turns out that everything “percs” during the summer. So Dr. Moye Rutledge, a professor at the University of Arkansas, developed a better method of testing – a method based on a science called morphology. 

In morphology testing, one of the factors we look at is the color of your soil, which can tell us a story about how water will move through it. We also look at soil texture (especially clay content), seasonal water tables, depth to bedrock, and whether the soil is naturally formed or is “fill material”. 

Morphology testing also allows us to see how your soil will perform throughout the year, not just one day. 

So, while it may look like we’re just playing in the mud, we’re conducting a scientific process!

An aerial view of lateral lines before they’re covered with soil.

The Soil Report

After we perform your soil test, you will receive a “soil report”. When reading this document, the section you want to focus on is called the “Amount of Lateral Line Needed”. 

This section goes over the features we observed in your soil. These features help us predict how many gallons per square foot per day of wastewater your soil can process. This is known as your Soil Loading Rate (SLR). 

We take your SLR, along with the number of bedrooms in your home – or the number of people for your commercial property – and calculate the amount of lateral lines required for your system.

With new construction, you’ll need a Septic System Permit to move the process forward.


Before we can install your system, you must have a Septic System Permit from the Arkansas Department of Health. At BBB Septic, we’re always happy to help with this process! 

To obtain this permit, we’ll need to know some general details about your property including the square footage of your house and its location, and plans for other structures like pools and shops. 

We’ll then mark the locations of your house, septic tank, septic distribution device, and lateral fields with flags.We’ll take this information and prepare a drawing and application packet to be submitted to the health department for review. 

The health department will then send an inspector to your property to look at the soil and review the design. If they determine that the design will work and is up to code, they will issue your “Septic System Permit for Construction”. 

Keep in mind that this permit is good for one year. After one year, the permit will need to be “revalidated”.

“Roughed in” plumbing is the stage before any fixtures are installed and your plumbing is still exposed.

Final Approval

Once we receive your permit, we’ll create an estimate and mail the entire packet to you. After you approve the estimate, we can begin the installation process. 

If you’re building a new home, we prefer to install the system any time after the plumbing for the structure has been “roughed in”. At this stage, your fixtures and appliances aren’t installed yet and your plumbing is still exposed. 

Lastly, a health department inspector will review the construction of your system and then issue you a “Septic System Permit for Operation”. This is the final piece of approval you’ll need, unless you need to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy. BBB Septic and Portable Toilets has provided high-quality septic system services to Northwest Arkansas for 36 years. So if you need septic system design, maintenance, repair, or installation, contact us today by clicking here.

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