Getting water for your home in much of northern Michigan or the U.P. can include expenses and systems common here but unfamiliar to you. Your well may have good water or water that needs various kinds of treatment or pressure enhancement. Most Lake Superior shoreline and much of the central U.P., for example, relies on the Jacobsville sandstone, an unreliable water source that may provide low pressure or have various impurities.
Treatment for impurities such as hardness, iron, tannins and/or chlorides individually or in combination can cost from $1,000 to $3,000 depending on the number of people using the system, the kind and severity of the problem, and the amount of treatment required.
The costs of drilling a well depend on the soils/rock encountered, the size of the well, and its depth, but average about $3,000 – 4,000 assuming $20/foot for an 8″ well plus casing, grouting, pump, electrical, etc.
Fortunately there are excellent contractors in most areas of the U.P. who regularly deal with and know how to solve most problems. Water is not free anywhere. Like the costs of a road, building materials, an architect and a contractor, wells and water treatment are a part of rural living. The county health department has well logs of the existing wells in your area and will have a good idea of the conditions you are likely to encounter.
A septic system is an excellent way to solve the problem of sewage disposal in rural areas where there are no city sewer systems provided the soils are adequate. Septic systems work well in sand, and not so well or not at all in heavier soils, clays, and areas with a high water table or seasonal runoff or flooding. The county health department issues permits for septic systems, can advise you on your area, and will for a modest fee conduct a “perc test” on your property in advance of closing to assure you that they will issue a septic permit when the time comes. The cost of a septic system depends on the soils, the size of the home, whether there are garbage disposals and washers and other factors, but averages around $4,000. If the soils where you want to build will support construction but not septic disposal, it is often possible to pump wastewater to other areas of the property. Such systems can increase costs to $6,000 or more.
Rates vary for extending power to some of the more remote areas. If there is existing power along the road costs can be anywhere from a modest connection fee to $1,000. If there is no power, extending overhead lines has generally run about $20,000/mile. The power company no longer quotes “by the mile”, however, and will give a specific quote based on the degree of difficulty of the job. Underground power can sometimes actually be cheaper than overhead lines depending on the situation because it is less labor intensive.
At Laughing Whitefish Point, the power company has in the past charged $100 for a connection fee and has run underground power up to 200 feet at $2.28/foot. Beyond that it costs about $5.88/foot for underground power, plus the trenching.
Ameritech says the charge for bringing dial tone to a typical residential connection where the contractor has run phone line and everything is in place is $42. Beyond that, rates vary and the phone company declines to estimate costs saying “each situation is different.”