Cost To Dig Or Drill A Well | Build a Stash

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Key Takeaways

  • The cost of digging a well averages between $3,500 and $13,500.
  • Factors determining the cost include location, depth, permits, soil type, and more.
  • Most wells are between 100 and 400 feet, and the cost per foot ranges from $15 to $60.
  • While digging a well yourself can be less expensive, it is more challenging than it seems.

Wells are a cost-effective way to access water off the grid. Before you start drilling, it is important to understand the costs associated with well digging.

A professionally dug well costs around $3,500 to $13,500. The cost depends on location, depth, casing, pump, filters, and many other factors. If you choose to dig a well yourself, it will be less expensive, starting at about $500, but it is more challenging than it seems.

As someone who has been dependent on well water for their home, it is a wise investment for those who want to save money and become self-sufficient. In this article, I share information on the cost of digging a well, what determines how much it will cost, why it is better than municipal water, and more.

Table of contents


How Much Does It Cost To Dig Or Drill A Well?

Drilling a well can be a costly but necessary investment for homeowners looking to access a reliable water source. The price of drilling a well can vary significantly depending on factors such as the depth of the well, the type of soil, and the permit requirements.

On average, a well can cost between $1,500 and $12,000, with most projects falling from $3,500 to $13,500. The cost per foot of depth can range from $15 to $60, with $15 to $30 being a good guideline for most projects. However, challenging terrain or soil conditions can increase the cost to $50 to $60 per foot.

Additional costs, such as casing, can add another $6 to $20 per foot to the overall price. For shallow wells, digging may be a more affordable option, with prices ranging from $10 to $25 per foot.

What Factors Determine The Cost To Drill A Well?

Well drilling is a large project. As will all projects, there are many costs to consider. Here is a list of factors that impact the cost of digging a well.

Geographic Location

Your geographical location can significantly impact the cost of drilling a well, as the quality of soil in your area can affect the price by up to $50 per foot of drilling.

The average prices for drilling vary by state, with California charging between $25 and $50 per foot and Texas ranging from $30 to $55 per foot. Additionally, if water levels are lower, deeper holes may be necessary, leading to a further increase in costs.

Depth of the Well

Depth is the most significant factor in determining the cost of a well. Most wells are drilled between 100 and 400 feet, but if the water source is close to the surface, a 25-foot depth might suffice.

However, shallow water sources are more susceptible to contamination, and local authorities often regulate the necessary depth. Speaking to an expert can help you determine the ideal depth for your home.


Permits are an essential cost before you start digging. Depending on the county, permit fees range from $5 to $500. Most contractors can help in the permitting process. Still, working with an expert throughout this process is essential to ensure you have the necessary paperwork. In addition, without a permit, you could risk legal trouble.

Distance to House

If you're planning to dig or drill near your home, it can save you significant money in the long run. This is because the closer the waterline and electrical supply lines are to your home, the shorter they need to be. And for every foot you can save in pipe length, you could potentially save anywhere between $50 to $150.

Water Testing

Testing your water is necessary to ensure it's safe to use. DIY kits are available for $30 to $150 while hiring a professional can cost $100 to $500. Most experts will include the cost of water testing in their initial site inspection, and they will submit samples to a lab for thorough analysis. DIY kits may provide instant results, but they are often less reliable.

Soil Type

The soil quality plays a major role in determining the well's cost. The expenses incurred while drilling through soft soil with minimal debris and rocks are significantly lower than when drilling through heavily compacted and rocky earth.

If the well needs to be drilled through hard rock, be prepared to pay considerably higher prices, although the advantage is that a well casing is not required as the hard rock is self-supporting. Drilling through dense rock usually costs 155% more than drilling through soft soil, while partially rocky terrain may increase the cost by 92%.

Type of Well

The cost of drilling a well can vary significantly based on the type of well being drilled. For instance, sand point wells are a great choice if you're looking for an inexpensive option. They are shallow and can be driven by hand or machine, but they may not provide enough water for a household's needs.

On the other hand, geothermal wells are relatively inexpensive to drill, but installation costs can add up to thousands of dollars. If you're looking for a less expensive well to operate in the long run, consider drilling an artesian well that taps into an aquifer.

However, mind that drilling an artesian well can be quite costly. Finally, irrigation wells are the most expensive to drill, as they handle a large volume of water. However, residential irrigation wells are generally less costly than commercial ones.

Drilling Method

There are various methods for drilling a well, each with advantages and disadvantages. The traditional method involves rotary drilling, where a drill bit is attached to a rotating drill pipe to cut through the ground.

This method is suitable for most soil types and can reach depths of up to 1,000 feet. However, it can be time-consuming and expensive, especially if the well needs to be drilled in hard rock.

Another method is cable tool drilling, also known as percussion drilling. This involves raising and dropping a heavy bit onto the ground to break up the soil. This method is more suitable for shallow wells but slower and can cause more damage to the surrounding soil.

A newer method is hydraulic drilling, which uses pressurized water to cut through the ground. This method is faster, less expensive than rotary drilling, and more environmentally friendly. However, it is unsuitable for hard, rocky soil and may require specialized equipment.

The choice of drilling method depends on several factors, including the soil type, the well's depth, and the project's budget.

Casing Pipe

The integrity of a well depends on the casing pipe that supports and shields its walls. PVC is the most economical material for well-casing pipe, costing between $6 to $10 per linear foot. On the other hand, galvanized or stainless steel casing pipe is available as a premium option, ranging from $30 to $130 per foot.

Steel casing may be essential in areas prone to earthquakes as it is much less susceptible to cracks and breaks. The cost of casing pipe ranges from $630 to $2,400, depending on its length.

Electrical Components

Installing a well pump and pressure switch typically require electrical wiring, which are relatively low-cost components ranging from $50 to $150. However, to ensure proper installation, a licensed electrician is needed, and this could cost $150 to $500.

Purification System

Although some people believe that well water is cleaner than municipal water, municipal water undergoes strict treatment processes that private well water does not. Hence, a purification system is necessary to eliminate contaminants before using well water for residential purposes, such as drinking.

Installing a whole-home water treatment system will cost between $500 and $3,000, with an additional $200 to $400 for installation.

Storage Tank

After the water is pumped and purified, it must be stored and pressurized for use in your home. A 2-gallon water tank may cost as little as $100, but if you plan to use well water for most of your household needs, you will need a larger pressure tank that costs between $1,400 and $2,400.

Well Pump

One of the most crucial components of a well system is the pump. The pump brings water to the surface and distributes it throughout your home. The type of pump you need depends on the depth of your well, the water usage in your home, and your budget.

A submersible pump is the most common type used for residential wells. The submersible pump costs range from $400 to $1,200, depending on the pump's horsepower and the depth of the well.

Overall a solar-powered pump is going to be your best bet. There is no need to worry about losing power or monthly increases in power consumption.

What Is The Cost Of Installing A Well And Septic System?

The cost to install a well and septic system can vary greatly depending on various factors such as location, soil conditions, and installed system type. On average, a septic system drilling and installation costs from $2,000 to $7,000. However, when combined with a well system, the cost can increase significantly, ranging from $5,000 to $22,000.

It's important to note that these costs are just estimates and can vary depending on each installation's specific needs and requirements. For example, the cost may be higher in areas where the soil is difficult to excavate or if the installation requires specialized equipment.

Additionally, ongoing maintenance costs for septic systems should be factored in when considering the overall cost of a well and septic system. Regular maintenance, such as pumping the septic tank, and testing the well water, can help ensure the longevity and efficiency of the system.

How Deep Do You Have To Dig A Well For It To Fill With Water?

The depth at which you need to dig a well to fill it with water can vary based on several factors, such as the geology of the area, the water table level, and the local climate. Most residential wells range from 100 to 400 feet, although some can be as shallow as 50 feet or as deep as 1,000 feet.

The depth of the well is often determined by the depth of the water table, which is the depth at which groundwater is located. If the water table is shallow, then a well can be dug more easily and may require less drilling. On the other hand, if the water table is deep, a well may need to be dug deeper to reach the water.

It's important to note that even if a well is dug deep enough to reach the water table, the amount of water it can produce may still be limited by the well's construction, the type of aquifer the well taps into, and the surrounding geology. Therefore, it's important to consult with a qualified well driller or hydrogeologist to determine the appropriate depth and construction methods for your well.

What is Better: Private Well Or Municipal Water System

Both options have pros and cons when choosing between a private well or a municipal water system. However, a private well can be a better choice for many reasons.

One of the main advantages of having a private well is that you have complete control over your water source. Unlike a municipal water system, which relies on a centralized treatment facility, a private well allows you to control water quality from the source. You can regularly monitor and test your well water to ensure it meets your taste, odor, and purity standards.

Another advantage of a private well is the cost savings over time. While a municipal water system may seem more convenient, it can come with a hefty price tag. Municipal water systems typically charge monthly usage fees, which can add up quickly. On the other hand, once a private well is installed, the ongoing costs are relatively low. Of course, you'll have to pay for periodic maintenance and testing, but you won't have to worry about monthly water bills.

A private well also provides a reliable water source in emergencies. For example, municipal water systems can fail during a power outage or natural disaster, leaving residents without access to water. However, with a private well, you'll have a backup water source to help you get through any disruptions in the municipal system.

That being said, there are some disadvantages to having a private well. The initial installation cost can be high, depending on the well's depth and the installation's complexity. Additionally, you will need to maintain the well and ensure that it meets local regulations and standards for safety and water quality.

In contrast, municipal water systems are often more convenient and require less maintenance. In addition, they provide a constant water supply that is treated and monitored for safety by the local authorities. However, they come with ongoing costs, and the quality of the water may not always meet your personal preferences.

Overall, a private well can be a better choice for those who want more control over their water source and want to save money in the long run. A private well can provide clean, safe, and reliable water for years with proper installation and maintenance.

Should I Hire A Professional To Drill A Well?

Drilling a well can be a complex and potentially dangerous process that requires specialized knowledge and equipment. While it may be tempting to attempt drilling a well on your own to save money, hiring a well drilling company for this job is highly recommended. Here are some reasons why:

Specialized Knowledge and Equipment

A professional well driller has the knowledge, experience, and equipment necessary to locate and drill a well properly. They can assess the geology of the area and determine the best drilling methods and equipment needed to drill the well to the correct depth and size. If you attempt to drill a well yourself without the necessary knowledge and equipment, you risk damaging the surrounding environment or drilling a well that doesn't produce enough water.


Attempting to drill a well alone can be very expensive. Without the proper knowledge and equipment, you may end up drilling multiple unsuccessful wells, costing you time and money. Additionally, drilling a well can be dangerous, and accidents or injuries can result in hefty medical bills or legal fees.

Legal Reasons

Drilling a well requires a permit from your local government, and the process must be done in compliance with local regulations. Failure to obtain the proper permits or comply with regulations can result in fines or legal action against you.


Drilling a well can be dangerous, as it involves heavy machinery and potential accidents or injuries. Professional well drillers have the training and experience to work safely and minimize the risk of accidents. Attempting to drill a well independently without proper training and safety precautions can result in serious injury or even death.

Water Quality

If a well is not drilled properly, it can result in water quality issues. Professional well drillers know how to drill a well to minimize the risk of contamination and ensure that the water is safe to drink. If you attempt to drill a well on your own and don't take the necessary precautions, you risk drilling a well that produces unsafe water for consumption.