By Machelle James
Our phone rang at 5:00 p.m. last Friday. We were in the middle of fixing a propane gas leak on our friend’s travel trailer. As I hurriedly answered the call, I didn’t know who it was. To our surprise, it was our Septic Engineer, Marc, advising us our sewer system is ADEQ (Arizona Department of Environmental Quality) approved.
Our septic system was approved with no changes requested
Marc told us that the confirmation email he received advising that our septic system was approved indicated there were no comments or change requests – it was approved as written. It is very common for ADEQ to come back and request changes, modifications or explanations. That our septic system was approved is a true testimony to Marc for his expertise of being #1 in the septic tank world of going #2! (Please pardon the pun.)
We celebrated with our friends who were visiting us with cold beverages by a warm campfire. AJ and I felt a massive release of stress knowing that we can now move forward with the waste water treatment system. We are now in a rush to see what we can accomplish before the ground freezes. Our Alternative Septic Installer, Dan, is coming over today to give us an update on when we can start digging. Our first snow is coming in 2 days and we hope we haven’t missed our window of opportunity before the ground freezes and the soil is too hard to dig.
Why do they have to test our soil 18 feet deep?
We also had to have a geotechnical company come out and drill 18 feet into the ground. I truly have no idea why this test is needed, so I copied this from designeverest.com’s website to explain it to us all.
What does the Geotech Report entail?
The Geotech Report offers an analysis of the chemical and geotechnical qualities of your soil. The findings of a geotechnical report should include general information on:
Identification of the type of soil
The strength and density of the soil
Any organic material or contamination present
Ground water and soil compaction
Foundation design recommendations
Seismic design factors
Solutions for any foreseeable problems
Most importantly, within this report will be the findings of the type of soil present on site and if it is capable of supporting the proposed structure. Reports will provide a description of the site conditions and geological data, as well as provide appropriate recommendations for site preparation, drainage control, and any conditions that might affect the project. Once all geological elements of the site are identified, then the civil and structural engineer can use the Geotech Report to move forward in designing the appropriate foundation and structure.
Now we all know why this report is needed, so we can determine if our soil will collapse under harsh weather conditions by heavy weight usage of RVs and so the fire trucks won’t sink into the ground if they are needed.
We have to have our roadways tested
By the way, we were just informed by the County that we needed to have the roadways tested, as well. It sure would have been helpful to have this knowledge since they were already here last week! Boring those TWO holes cost us $4,500! I cannot even imagine how much it will cost to test a mile of roadway. I am having severe anxiety over the cost of having them drill where our roads will be.
Our saving grace is that the RV Resort up the street has to have it done as well, so we will have it done on the same day to help with transportation costs of this huge piece of machinery. It is still going to cost an arm and a leg and since I don’t have a price yet, it worries me.
Update on our loan and skyrocketing costs
Speaking of our loan, we met with our bankers and they told us we can request a one-time increase in our loan since the numbers usually do increase when the hard estimates come in. Since COVID hit, the price of lumber has tripled! Our check-in store is now costing us 3 times as much and we are seriously in a panic!
The fires across our country have lumber costs skyrocketing as well as less employees being able to actually work in the sawmills. We knew there would be some cost increases, but this is just ridiculous. We already submitted the store plans to our Building Department for a permit, and to change it this late in the game would push it back several months – and it might not get built in time if we go with a metal building.
Our Civil Engineer told us we would have all our Final Engineering Improvement Plans on Friday. That way we can give them to our General Contractor and they can FINALLY bid out all the projects to submit to the bank. After that, we need to have our Electric Plans engineered by Navopache Electric, and we can start digging in the ground for our water and electric.
What type of fence should we choose?
We stumbled upon a fence company in our state that makes unique fence panels that look like actual wood! I fell in love with the product as is not only severely cuts down on the highway noise, it lasts a LIFETIME! It is concrete panels that are reinforced with rebar. The elk and deer can’t knock it down as they jump the fence – hence, saving on fence repairs.
This fencing would be a solid barrier along the highway and along our entrance road (approximately 1900 linear feet). Then for the back of the property, we would still use cedar fencing as a privacy fence for our neighbors. (Approximately 1900 linear feet here too.)
Can you help us decide what fence we should choose?
We have a tough choice to make as we decide which way to go. Do we spend the money upfront if we ask for a loan increase and get the one-and-done product? OR do we stick with the cedar option all around and repair fence panels for a few years? Your feedback on that would be great if you have been in this situation.
The cost difference is $175,000 vs. $100,000. This cost difference may not seem like much to you, but with the added septic costs, the added check-in store costs and the fencing, this will add up to almost $300,000 more. We still don’t have the hard costs for the ground cover and the electrical installation yet. These costs can very well push us to over $1.5 million. This is probably why you don’t see many new campgrounds being built by Mom and Pop business owners like us – the costs change constantly!
Who knows what will happen in the coming weeks. I will be excited to share with you the changes we encounter during this uncertain time.
Thank you for following our updates and our roller coaster of a ride to build our campground. We truly appreciate your support and kind words!
Until next time, See You in the Trees! And please leave a comment!
AJ, Machelle and Jenna
Read previous articles here.
Machelle James and her husband, AJ, are building, from the ground up, a 15-acre RV park in Heber-Overgaard, Arizona, in the beautiful White Mountains 140 miles from Phoenix. Follow them on Facebook @ AJ’s Getaway RV Park or on Instagram at ajsgetawayrvpark.