How to Calculate French Drain Cost

French drain

French drains, which divert ground and surface water from one area to another, can be useful and save thousands of dollars in damage. Nonetheless, this is dependent on the French drain cost. Whether you plan to do it yourself or hire a professional, it is wise to figure out the cost of building a french drain system, in order to better equip yourself for negotiating and keeping french drain costs from adding up when you're already committed to the project.

Step 1 - Determine the Types of Pipes

The type of piping used for water depends on the potential amount of runoff. Redirecting a small amount of water may only require simple plastic pipes. Your plastic drainage piping for typical runoff can be relatively affordable, depending on the length needed. However, with directing a large amount of water, stronger and more costly piping will be required. You may need a more durable and tougher plastic, metal, or even cement pipes. Costs will also increase quickly relative to the length and diameter of piping needed.

If you are redirecting water contaminated with pollutants, you will need to get piping of the best quality that is virtually unbreakable. Leaking contaminated water from your french drain piping may cost you serious fines, especially if you pollute drinking water.

Step 2 - Figure out the Amount of Digging

deep trench in a yard

If you're project will only require a shovel, then the cost will only be as much as the price of the shovel, hoe, and the amount a local kid is willing to dig for. If, however, you need a bigger and deeper trench, the cost will include hiring a professional service, or renting the heavy-duty equipment needed for digging bigger ditches.

Step 3 - Consider the Material Used to Cover Drains

Sometimes you can get away with simply digging a ditch, placing an inexpensive plastic piping, and covering that piping with the dirt you've just dug up. Some French drain systems will not be so simple. You may need to cover the piping with stone. Stones can sometimes be picked up for free if you're lucky enough to want them when someone else needs to quickly get rid of them. Most of the time you'll need to buy them. The more feet you need to cover, the more expensive your stone costs.

You also need to consider the lining for the piping. You will want to buy material that will last to prevent frequent maintenance repairs in the future.

Step 4 - Consider Permits and Legal Issues

People reviewing housing plans

Many cities require certain permits for certain building ventures. In some cities you can't build a house with toothpicks without applying and purchasing a permit first! Many people start a project on a certain budget that is already stretched beyond what they can actually afford, and are then required to purchase a permit they never planned for.

Also remember that different cities have varying laws concerning water that is contaminated with certain chemicals. You may need to hire a research firm or biologist to determine the contaminants of the water you want to redirect. This is a step that you may want to seriously consider to protect yourself from a future lawsuit or fine.