A soil evaluation is required before building a home that is not served by a municipal sewage treatment facility. Contact your local Township office to determine if municipal sewage treatment is available.

A soil evaluation is an assessment performed by an Environmental Health (EH) Specialist from LCHD. This assessment determines a site’s suitability for installing a new or replacement onsite sewage system. The suitability is based on many factors. Some factors are groundwater level, soil texture, and closeness to key environmental features like surface water.

In order for a site to be considered suitable, two soil borings a minimum of 50 feet apart must meet the criteria laid out in the Livingston County Sanitary Code. Once these two borings are established, this is where the proposed septic system must be located.

A soil evaluation must be completed and approved before you can apply for a septic permit and begin constructing your septic system.

How to Apply for a Soil Evaluation

Submit a complete Soil Evaluation Application to LCHD Environmental Health Division in-person, by email, or online. The application must include:

  • A boundary drawing of the property. The drawing must include property lines, easements, and any neighboring wells or sewage systems within 100 feet of the proposed well or sewage system.
  • 10-digit parcel identification number
  • Land Survey, if available
  • Legal description of the property
  • Appropriate fees (listed below)

Once these materials are submitted, an EH Specialist will contact you within 3-5 business days.

  Contact MISS DIG to mark all utilities in the area prior to the soil evaluation.

Contact an excavating contractor with the date and time the EH Specialist is scheduled for the evaluation. The excavating contractor will dig test holes to a minimum of 8 ft. for the evaluation.


Single Family
Soil Evaluation / Individual Soil Boring Single Family
Commercial Soil Evaluation
$325 per building site
Soil Boring (Commercial)
$175 per building
Alternative Technology Vacant Land Evaluation/prelim. review


What is a land survey?

A land survey (accompanied with a legal description of the property) is a formal certified document that defines the boundaries of a parcel of property. It is performed by a registered land surveyor and must contain a formal stamp or seal from the surveyor. The purpose of a survey is to ensure that the proposed water supply and/or septic system is located on the correct property. This survey will be used as a reference guide for site plans and file review when permits are applied for.

How is the soil evaluation scheduled?

The soil evaluation can be scheduled when you or your contractor/agent submit the application at the Environmental Health office. Appointments can usually be scheduled within 5 – 7 business days of receiving a complete application. However, during certain seasonal peak construction times, it may take up to 10 business days to schedule the soil evaluation. Remember, it is your responsibility to coordinate the appointment with the excavating contractor so they are aware of the appropriate date, time, and location of the soil evaluation.

How is the soil evaluation performed and what is the EH Specialist looking for during the evaluation?

The evaluation is performed by digging test holes, each generally a minimum of 8 feet deep, in the area of the proposed sewage system. In some instances the holes may be dug 20 feet deep if suitable soils are not encountered at shallower depths. The EH Specialist will determine how many holes must be dug in order to be assured that the area is acceptable. The EH Specialist observes the excavation looking for these items:

  • A consistent layer of naturally occurring permeable soil (sand). The formation must be less than 20 feet below original ground surface and may not be acceptable if water is present.
  • Evidence of a seasonal high water table.
  • Example Plot Plan to area wells, surface water, structures, easements, and property lines.
  • Topography, vegetation, and drainage patterns.
  • Other site characteristics may be considered at the EH Specialist’s discretion.

Who determines the location for the test holes/sewage system?

You should have an idea of where you would like to have the septic system placed prior to the soil evaluation. However, the EH Specialist or excavating contractor may suggest a different area if the original area selected appears unsuitable. Keep in mind that the EH Specialist’s role on the site is to provide expertise and guidance to assist the homeowner or builder in making these decisions.

Who needs to be present at the soil evaluation?

The EH Specialist, excavating contractor, and property owner or his/her designated representative must be on site during the evaluation. Important decisions will need to be made, and it is a good idea for the property owner to be present. At a minimum, you are encouraged to select your desired home location and drainfield area.

How long will a soil evaluation take?

The time it takes to complete a thorough evaluation depends on the depth, location, and availability of an approvable soil formation, as well as the equipment and expertise of the excavating contractor. Your application gives the EH Specialist approximately 1.5 hours of field time to complete the evaluation. If a considerable amount of extra time is needed, a new application and fee may be required.

What happens after the soil evaluation is completed?

Once the evaluation has been completed, the EH Specialist will create a report with soil information, soil boring locations, and an aerial map with accurate measurements to lot lines. The results of the evaluation will also be on this evaluation, noted as follows: Suitable with special restrictions, Further information needed, or Unsuitable.

Last Modified February 20, 2024

Environmental Health
Livingston County Health Department Logo
Matt Bolang

Matt Bolang
Health Officer



(517) 546-9858


Monday – Friday
8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Closed County Holidays


2300 E Grand River Ave
Suite 102
Howell, MI 48843


(517) 546-9853
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