Converting A Cesspool To A Septic Tank System In Kona

You might need a septic tank system before you can add onto your home in Kona.

One of our clients has to.

Janett (our awesome client) wants to increase the value of her Kona rental property by adding an ohana under it (it’s a post and pier foundation so there is plenty of room). This way it can be a home for more people.

An ohana is an addition for the house, mostly meant for extended family members.

But Janett has a problem: she can’t get the permit she needs because she has a cesspool. She has to convert her cesspool to a septic tank system first.

Before the project of converting a cesspool to a septic tank system

It can be frustrating, but Act 125 states that all cesspools need to convert to septic tanks by 2050 anyways. It’s meant to help clean up our Hawaiian waters.

Janett doesn’t know how much extra time and money this will take. Not many of our clients usually do when they call us.

Thankfully, the design engineer who drew up her plans knows someone who can help: Solid Rock Contracting (that’s us!)

She contacts us and we start our partnership to make her home Act 125 compliant.

Join us on our and Janett’s 8-day journey as we convert her cesspool to a septic tank system!

You can learn more on our septic tank installation service page >>

Septic tank in a hole in Kona

About This Project

The design engineer already had conversion plans drawn up for us to follow.

The septic tank for her property is a 1,250-gallon Chem-tainer unit. It’s light enough for a couple of men to move it but strong enough to keep all the wastewater from leaking out.

As for cost, this project for converting a cesspool to a septic tank system ran Janett about $10,250, which is about the average starting price.

One of the reasons it costs this much is because of the first step: getting permits.

1. Getting Any Necessary Permits

First, we had to get all of our ducks in a row by getting the correct permits for installing a septic tank system in Hawaii.

In this instance that can include a:

  • Septic tank permit
  • Water rights permit
  • Access right of way

And others. These permits do cost money so we make sure Janett knows about it before we do anything.

We get all the permits together for Janett and go to work.

2. Removing The Cesspool

Our biggest problem is that there is very little room to maneuver.

This makes our job a lot more difficult because we do need to use some larger equipment to replace a cesspool with a septic tank.

We still manage to empty out the cesspool and prepare the area for installation.

3. Installing The Septic Tank

We use our tools and equipment to dig a hole the right size for Janett’s chosen septic tank.

Digging out the area to install the septic tank system in

She chose a 1,250 gallon Chem-tainer unit. It’s made from extremely durable plastic and is the perfect size for her property.

Then we lower the tank into the ground and go to the next step.

4. Constructing The Drainage Field

This is where the mostly pure wastewater goes to become completely clean.

We dig out the area and lay down some gravel. The dirt, rocks, and gravel all help cleanse the wastewater.

We then install the pipes for the water to go through:

Setting up the drainage field for the septic tank

Of course, it won’t do Janett any good if we don’t hook the tank up to anything.

5. Hooking Up The Septic Tank

The house hooks up to the tank which hooks up to the drainage field:

It may sound easy when we put it that way, but attaching the pipes needs planning and attention to detail. We make sure the pipes are secure so there will be less chance of a leak.

Now we get to disguise our handiwork.

6. Covering The Septic Tank And Drainage Field

We will not leave our work out in the open.

It doesn’t look good and it will make it much less effective as a water cleanser.

The first two layers we use are different types of rock and gravel:

Now we are laying down dirt as a top layer:

Putting the top layer of soil over the entire septic system

This is great because it means Janett can grow grass and other plants on it!

Now comes the final part.

7. Disguising The Septic Tank System

The final part can also be the fun part.

Not many people want to have just dirt for their yard. Janett certainly doesn’t.

Janett can basically start over and plant whatever she wants there. The nitrogen and other nutrients coming out of the drainage field are great for plants:

Part of the finished septic tank system installation project

The grass may even be a little greener there.

Janett’s rental property is now Act 125 compliant! She now has the green light to start building her ohana.

I wonder who she’ll ask to help her build it…

What’s Happening Now

It’s been about 1 year since Janett had us come and replace her cesspool with a septic tank system.

She loves the work we did so much she is having Solid Rock Contracting come in and help build the ohana!

It’s very exciting for everyone.

When Will You Install Your Septic Tank System?

You could go ahead and get it done. Then you won’t have to worry about doing it when all of your neighbors are too!

If you have any questions or comments about the process, let us know in the comments below.

You can read our guide to septic tank systems in Hawaii for more information >>