As anybody who is living far outside city limits knows, wells are an essential resource for securing your access to clean, copious water.
Wells have been used for thousands and thousands of years for exactly that purpose and aside from a handful of differences, installation and the technology to operate them, they work on the same principles now as way back when.
Also now as then wells represent a significant investment of money, time and often backbreaking labor. With everything getting more and more expensive in our modern era, you might wonder how much money you can save by digging a well yourself.
As it turns out, quite a bit, but you had better have the skills and the know-how to pull it off or you will be literally throwing your money in a hole in the ground.
So how much would it cost to install your own well?
You can do it for as little as $2,000 in the case of a shallow well, or as much as $6,500 on the high-end, depending upon the type of installation, depth, and the cost of the equipment you need to rent.
The cost of the digging itself can be around $3,000 – $4,000, but if you make enough phone-calls, you can get to the lower end of the price spectrum.
If you’re supplying the labor and the other necessary skills yourself, the only other things required are the components of the well such as well casing, pump and other necessary parts.
The chief variables are the suitability of your soil for drilling, and other unforeseen circumstances that could increase complexity and thereby cost.
If you are planning on doing your own well installation you would be wise to brush up on the associated costs, variables, and sometimes overlooked factors that can see the cost of your project balloon outside of your allocated budget. You can learn more in the sections below.
The Major Variable: Well Depth
You might get off cheap with a DIY well install, or you might be stroking a check for big bucks. The chief variable is whether or not you are installing a shallow well, or a deep one.
Shallow or deep is not according to your reckoning; deep wells are wells that go beyond 50 feet in depth below the surface, where shallow wells are ones that do not exceed 50 feet.
There are pros and cons for both, and depending on your property, you might actually have a choice, but the vast majority of residential wells installed today are between 125 and 175 feet deep.
If you don’t need a ton of water day to day and you don’t mind having to manage some additional contamination risks, a shallow well might actually be just the ticket for keeping costs down.
For certain soil substrates you might be able to utilize a sand point well kit to install your well for as little as $2,000 or even less.
Drill, Drill, Drill Some More!
There are all kinds of ways, modern and primitive, that you can use to excavate a well hole, but if you value your time, your hands and your back, you will opt for the most popular method which is drilling.
Modern drill rigs, typically carried around on massive trucks that use outriggers for stability, can make comparatively short work of soil in order to reach the deepest water sources.
Professional drilling to excavate the well hole by itself will run anywhere from $15 to $25 per foot of depth. So your final tally for cost (just for drilling the hole!) will be anywhere from $1,875 to $4,375. Yikes!
Even so, this might be a good deal if you can finish the well yourself since it is the excavation, not typically the installation, that often requires the most care and expertise.
You might be able to do this cheaper for a deep well installation if you’re able to rent or otherwise procure a drill rig so long as you know how to operate it, but many places in the United States require well-diggers to be licensed or otherwise permitted.
Also make sure you get a proper survey done of the soil conditions in your area, typically called a geological survey or report.
How soft or hard your soil is as well as how many rocks or other difficult materials are contained within its layers will significantly impact the time and difficulty of the drilling process. As you probably guessed, both of those factors can increase cost dramatically!
Soils that are soft or easy to drill can save you anywhere from 15 to 33% of your expected drilling costs. Those are significant savings!
But if you are unfortunate enough to be stuck drilling through tough, hard or especially rocky soil your bill could double! Only a fool would set up a drill and start drilling without reading the terrain first.
Even if you can DIY your well installation from front to back, you still have to pay for parts. Modern residential wells all have the same basic parts like a well casing, a pump, a well cap and various associated bits, Bob’s, do dads and so forth.
The major big-ticket item for your well is probably going to be the well casing, again depending on how deep your well goes. Well casings are usually made from PVC or steel, and neither one is cheap. The diameter of the well casing also affects the bottom line.
A PVC well casing that is 4 in in diameter could run you anywhere from just under $1,000 to upwards of $5,000 depending on the length. Steel is even worse, with the larger diameters (8 inch) going anywhere from $4,500 to over $12,000. Ouch!
And then, of course, you will need a pump which will have to be supplied with electricity if you want to bring your water to the surface. Pumps vary greatly in cost depending on if they are for shallow or deep well installations.
Deep well fully submersible pumps will cost you anywhere between $600 + $3,000. Shallow well pumps are typically far cheaper, crossing anywhere between $200 and just under $1,000. Most homes will also need a pressure tank that will run anywhere between $250 and $450.
Those are all the big ticket items, but you will still need a smattering of other small components like switches, controllers, caps, seals and so forth that will all told run you around $200.
However, if you are unfortunate enough to be drawing water it is especially “hard” (meaning significant mineral contamination) you will need to utilize a water softening and purification system, a significant expense it will often run over $1,000 depending upon its capability.
It is a major undertaking, but it is possible to excavate and install your own residential well. Depending upon all the specifics and what kind of equipment is needed, this will run anywhere from $2,000 to $6,500 by the time you pop the cap on it and fire up the pump.
While this is far cheaper than a typical front to back professional installation you must carefully assess your land, your abilities, and the complexity of the installation since any major mishap will only run up your bill even more.
Take the time to review the costs and possible curveballs, and you should be able to budget accordingly.
Tom Marlowe practically 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, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.