DIY

How Much Would It Cost to Dig My Own Well?

digging a well

If you want to be truly self-sufficient living in a location that is far away from civilization, you will need a well. The process of digging a well is simple enough, but far from easy, and typical residential wells often delve deep into the earth, anywhere from 100 to 200 feet down.

This will usually require the efforts of a specialized drilling rig carried by a heavy truck along with a team I’m specially trained and experienced workman to accomplish. Unfortunately, wells are quite expensive to excavate and install, regularly running north of $10,000 in the United States.

The necessity of wells in conjunction with their expense has led some preppers to look into a DIY solution for installing a functional, modern well. How much can you expect to save over a professional installation if you do it yourself, or alternatively what will the total cost be for a DIY well installation?

Depending upon the depth, complexity and type of well, you can expect to spend anywhere between $2,500 and $6,000 when excavating and installing their own residential well. Mishaps, hard soil and specialized installations will cost more, and installing the well on soil that is very suitable for drilling will cost less. The final number will also vary depending upon a how deep the well must go, with shallow wells costing drastically less than deep ones.

This article can help you zero in on the bottom line figure by helping you assess all the variables that are inherent to excavating and installing a functional, safe residential well. Have a glance at the following sections and compare the factors discussed to your own proposed dig and pretty soon you will have a much better idea of how much you can expect to spend.

Dig Costs and Considerations

Having a professional well installation team dig your well hole, or more accurately drill it, can run you anywhere from $25 to north of $65 per foot of depth achieved.

As mentioned above, most residential wells must reach a depth of 100 to 200 feet, so multiply that number by the average cost of professional drilling and you can expect to spend several thousands just for excavation!

That isn’t even including the well installation, setup and testing! No wonder so many peppers are keen to try their hand at a DIY well installation.

Assuming you can rent the appropriate drilling rig and other hardware, and you know how to operate it successfully and safely, you can get your excavation costs down around $15 to $30 per foot of depth.

Again, this is for a typical residential deep well. The final number could be anywhere from $1,500 to $6,000 just for excavation. This could still be quite a pop, but far nicer than paying professionals to do the same thing for you.

The major variable in the cost of drilling is the depth, but also the type of the soil. Soil that is relatively soft and free of major obstructions like rocks is much easier and quicker to excavate, saving you money.

If you aren’t drilling too far down, and are fortunate enough to be installing your well and soft soil, you will be facing a pretty light bill.

On the other hand, if you have to dig deeply and go through dense clay, rocky layers or soil that is strewn with smaller stone deposits it is going to be slow, laborious and expensive.

The only way to figure out what type you are dealing with is to consult an existing geological survey for your property or have one performed if one does not exist. This is another expense you must account for, and pricing varies wildly depending upon your locale and the type of professional that must conduct the survey.

Generally speaking, once you determine the median price for drilling to a typical depth in your area, you can adjust the price depending upon the soil quality forecast.

Soil that is easy to excavate could save you 25% off your initial estimate. Soil that is extremely difficult to excavate could result in a 200% increase!

Component Costs

Drilling is only one part of the equation when it comes to installing a working well. The well must be finished with a variety of components, sealed and then tested.

The most important part of a working well besides the well hole itself is the well casing, the solid inner liner by which water will be brought to the surface. This both reinforces the well hole, and helps prevent contamination from reaching your water source.

In ages past, the well casing would be made from stone, brick or even wood but today we rely on PVC and steel as a rule.

It sure is nice being able to insert a well casing as easy-to-assemble, modular components, but these modern materials sure can be expensive, even if they save a ton of time and labor.

The cost of the well casing will vary mainly depending upon its length, diameter and material.

As you might expect, steel is more expensive than PVC, with larger steel well casings measuring 8 inches in diameter costing about $75 a foot for deep well. PVC piping is far less expensive, with typical 4 inch PVC casing only costing about $35 a foot.

That is a major difference, and considering the quality of modern PVC piping, you should not spend more unless you really need it for a specialized application!

Aside from the casing, you’ll need a well pump. Well pumps are different depending on whether you have a shallow or deep well, and as you might expect the models designed for shallow wells are less expensive, running anywhere between $200 and $900.

Deep well pumps are designed to be fully submerged in the water source far below, and will cost anywhere from $500 to a little over $2,000.

Most homes making use of a deep residential well will require a pressure tank running anywhere from $300 to $500.

Lastly, various components needed to finish, wire hook up and seal the well will add to the cost. Wires and a wiring harness or actually a highly variable expense, costing $50 to $1,000.

The remainder of the components needed to get you a while working correctly and safely, things like seals, switches and so forth will add another $150 to $200 to your final bill.

A Word on Shallow Wells

If you are planning on installing a shallow well on your property you might be able to go with a specialized well installation like a sand point well. These simple wells can be easily installed by a single individual in as little as one day, and you need only a sledgehammer or other capable pounding tool to accomplish this.

A sand point well kit, completely installed and hooked up, might cost as little as $2,000. They aren’t suitable for every application since they can only be installed in a softest of soils and for shallow well applications in addition to being more susceptible to contamination.

But if that sounds like just the ticket you could save a ton of coin!

Conclusion

A DIY deep well installation will run a person anywhere between $2,500 and $6,000 depending on the required equipment, necessary components and any mishaps or misadventure that befalls the excavation and installation of the well.

If you have just a little bit of ingenuity and experience with this type of operation installing your own well could save you a small fortune compared to having professionals drill and install for you.

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About Tom Marlowe

Tom Marlowe grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, He has the experience in helping civilian shooters figure out what firearms work best for them.
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2 thoughts on “How Much Would It Cost to Dig My Own Well?

  1. The operative word here is “dig”. ( Notice it’s not “drill” ? )

    When you say “dig” I think of a shovel & a well casing that is 3-4-5-6 feet in diameter. Back in the 1950s when I was a kid about 4-1/2 years old my grandfather and one of his siblings bought lakefront lots that were not adjacent but about 120 feet apart. The Dowty (Doughty?) family (concrete, in Peterborough, Ontario) bought the lot in between. Ron & Donnie were into water-skiing and that was my first exposure to a 50-horsepower outboard motor, a massive 4-cylinder “V” Evin rude. They both had beautiful wives, June & Susan respectively, altho Susan was the cuter of the 2,with dark curly hair. I’m 73 now and can still recall her face. But I digress …..

    Anyway, my grandfather’s well & his sibling’s well were both “dug” wells. I recall a round concrete sleeve (pipe) being placed, open end on the sod of the backyard, adjacent to the road that ran behind the cottage. Then somebody stood inside the pipe and dug with a shovel. The turf & soil were placed outside of the pipe, and as the soil was removed from the rim of the pipe, the pipe lowered itself into the ground. When the upper rim was almost level with the surface, they put another sleeve of pipe on top. The sleeves were perhaps 2 to 3 feet in length, so every 2 to 3 feet of digging they had to add another section of pipe. I dont recall how deep, but the soil was sandyand the watertable would have only been perhaps 10-15 feet down, same as the surface of the lake. Water began to seep into the casing and soon the digger, the shovel-man, was standing in a foot, then 18″, then 2′ of water. Eventually the top section was left more than half-a-foot above ground, so that surface water couldn’t get into the well to contaminate the water. Boards were placed across the top of the well to keep kids, animals, and dirt out of the well. A hole in one board allowed a hand-operated pump to be in installed. Eventually a water sample was taken to the city Health Department in Peterborough for testing. Years later, to accommodate indoor plumbing, my grandfather had an electric pump installed. A jet pump (either in the well, or in the cottage) was not required as the “lift” was less than 30 feet.

    1. Interesting amount of work for what was basically ground filtered lake water. Today, one could simply draw water directly from the lake, run it thru a filter or two, then a UV light sterilizer, for a heck of a lot less effort and money, and achieve the same….or maybe cleaner….result.

      As for the statement: “If you want to be truly self-sufficient living in a location that is far away from civilization, you will need a well.” , that isn’t 100% true.

      My own homestead, for example, has used a spring as our water source for the last 40 years. And several of our neighbors do also. In the Appalachian Mountains, it is common to find water that literally ‘springs’ from the earth. In our case, the spring source is located high enough on the mountain we are able to use it pump free, as gravity provides about 1/2PSI per foot of elevation. (minus friction loss in the pipe). A spring is one important consideration for buying a property initially.

      Springs here are often higher quality water than drilled wells. Ours, for example, is very soft (near rainwater) water due to the watershed above it being sandstone. A small amount of soap goes a LONG way, and we don’t get water heater filling with lime chips, and I suspect we avoid kidney stones, which many in the Southeast suffer (known as the kidney stone belt) due to the low PH of the water. Most drilled wells in this area (and most of the Southeast) are hard water with a lot of dissolved lime in it….due to having been drilled down thru layers of limestone to the water source.

      Ours is located about 60′ elevation (but 1200′ in horizontal difference) from the house. I built a 3000 gallon storage tank system (two 1500 gallon poly tanks) just below the spring, which is constantly refilled by the spring. In the fall (our driest period) of dry years, the spring output will get as low as a quart/minute, but that is still 360 gallons/day……more than we’d typically use in a day. With enough backup storage, that is no problem.

      Also, when I ran the supply line down the mountain, I ran an additional overflow line. When the tanks are full, the spring output flows into that line, which feeds a couple of fish ponds, and waters our chickens/cattle with constant fresh water. I can see the overflow line feeding the ponds from the house, so I have a constant reference of how much the spring is putting out. No water output, go check on the spring.

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