Septic tanks

Hi Everybody,

Just looking for a little advice...... We have a little cottage (probably converted about 15 years ago). When we bought it we were told the septic tank did not conform but was not polluting. Initially everything was OK, however, as time has gone on the tank seems to fill up really quickly. The previous owner but one still lives locally and has told us that the tank just 'fills' up and you have to get it emptied (ie : it doesn't drain anywhere?) - sounds a bit strange..... Anyway, we think we will have to bite the bullet and get it replaced at some stage. We only use the cottage about 6 -8 weeks a year. We don't want to be ripped off like our other British neighbour (18,000 Euro for his septic and both pumps have failed after 2 years .... resulting in another very large bill). We've been advised to install a traditional system rather than a micro station / bio system. Our plot is relatively small, however, we do have lovely neighbours who would probably help out if need be. So the questions are:

a. Any suggestions for suitable systems? or where should I start to look?

b. How much would it cost for materials / installation?

c. What is the procedure for doing this ?(do we have to get permission to replace the tank?)

d. Is there an official 'French' service (or website) where you can get advice on what installation you need?

Apologies if this has been covered before! This is something we need to look out over the next 12 months and we don't want to make the wrong decision!


Our replacement should be fairly simple - cottage is tiny - 1 room downstairs including corner kitchen (no washing machine or dishwasher) - 1 and a half bedrooms upstairs and shower room (total 60 sq m!). We are in the Mayenne - so no rock or other potential problems. I have tried to attach a picture of the very small garden..... but it is actually bigger than it looks! Would be great news if we could get it replaced for less than 5,000 Euro. Is the 4,200 Euro quote you had including installation?

exactly, Brian, all depends on the plot - had a quote for for water on one plot that i didn't buy due to 18K extra for rock blasting/removal. Imagine what the fosse would have cost... :-O

We have had a quote for a fosse toutes eaux installation with all the necessary extras €4200. Somebody doing a new build nearby needed rock blasted as well as drilled and scooped out. It was a lot of extra work. Their bill is around €12,000. The man building it is a local, respected builder for his family and himself. He expected about €6000 but with the 'quarrying' for the fosse and all of the extras like drainage, overflow and water to ground he doubled. It is unpredictable and depends on the terrain as we learned.

agree, Chris, a friend (professional and french) recently quoted me just over 4k€ for a standard system - fosse toutes eaux. 5000€ seems to be the standard with larger companies.

I am amazed at the prices some people charge for a fosse septique system. When we converted our mill and had a new system installed (9 years ago) with pumps etc it cost about €4,500. When our Puits Perdue blew up (3 years ago) and we had to have a new system with two tanks, one of 3000 litres and one of 5000 litres with all the pipework and drainage filters etc it cost about €8,500

Both were SPANC approved, before and after and done by a local large, professional organisation.

Just edited your title to remove the CAPS!



Thanks Andrew - will do that.

yep as Brian says, a fosse toutes eaux is probably your best bet if you have the space. Contact your local SPANC who will visit and advise on current legislation and what they think best - after all, they are the body who will approuve what you have done ;-)

Thanks Brian!

Fosse toute l'eau is what you must have. There are bits and pieces that belong with it. The SPANC inspections now will not accept less than the full installation. I am in a bit of a hurry but it has been looked at several times over in the 'renovations' group where you should look and find all of your answers plus get some extra advice. As for permissions. If you are upgrading you need permission but it is as close as can be to automatic and your maire will guide you through very quickly. Some contractors are overpricing the whole job but get several quotes, telling each possible installer other quote prices but do not get tricked into a proper devis that will saddle you with one particular installer who may well be the most expensive and also the short cut specialist who will not install fully to standard.