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CostHelper > Home and Garden  > Driveways, Pools & Outdoor Living > Perc Testing

Perc Testing Cost

How Much Does Perc Testing Cost?

low costSimple (Unofficial) Perc Test: $0-$100average costOfficial Perc Test: $100-$1,000+
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Also called a percolation test or a perk test, a perc test evaluates how well soil absorbs liquid. They are typically required to get a permit to install a new septic system or a drainage system (like French drains) that is dependent on the soil absorption rate. Simple perc tests may also be used to determine what will grow well on a specific site.

In a traditional perc test, holes are dug to a specific depth and filled with water, then the sinking water levels are measured for a certain length of time. However, the term "perc test" is also used to refer to a soil or site evaluation, when a backhoe digs two to six pits 5'-10' deep and an inspector or engineer enters each pit and evaluates the exposed soils.

Typical costs:

  • An official perc test that meets all local requirements for a septic or drainage system permit can cost $100-$1,000 or more depending on site size and conditions. Some areas mandate a traditional perc test while others specify soil/site evaluation/testing with deep pits, but call it a perc test. Local laws will dictate whether the test must be performed by a government employee or a private engineer; and typically there's a separate cost for having a backhoe operator prepare the site. County/engineer fees for a typical perc test might cost $150-$500 while use of a backhoe can add $300-$450 or more, for an average total of $450-$950 for a complete perc test. For example, Guthrie County[1] in Iowa charges $175-$225 in perc test fees, and Caroline County Health Department[2] in Maryland charges $270-$300.
  • For gardening or landscaping purposes, a simple (and unofficial) perc test can be performed with a shovel and tape measure at no cost as a do-it-yourself project, or a landscaper or gardener might charge $25-$100 depending on how many holes are dug and how long it takes. provides a video[3] demonstrating a simple perc test.
Related articles: French Drain, Dry Well, Septic System

What should be included:
  • Perc tests are typically performed during the wet season, although some areas allow them to be done anytime. Depending on how many holes or pits are needed and local soil conditions, a perc test might take a few hours or all day.
  • The Caroline County Health Department in Maryland explains required site preparation procedures[4] and answers frequently asked questions[5] for perc tests using test pits, while a septic designer provides an overview of perc test pits[6]
Additional costs:
  • A large property with several different types of soils might require multiple perc test sites, increasing the overall cost.
Shopping for perc testing:
  • If an official perc test is being done to determine what type of septic system to install, check with the local department of health[7] for specific perc test requirements, including whether the test must be performed by a government employee, a private soils engineer or a septic system designer. The health department may provide a list of local companies that perform perc tests.
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What People Are Paying - Recent Comments
Perk Test
Amount: $900.00
Posted by: C Spencer in Roanoke, VA.Posted: June 10th, 2015 08:06AM
Site Size: 47 AcresType of Test: Hand auger hole with soil analysis
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Installing a curtain drain
Amount: $0.00
Posted by: JillH in Clarksville, TN.Posted: July 25th, 2013 02:07PM
Want to find out average amount of what it costs to install a curtain drain for a septic system on a piece of land we are selling.
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