As a local contractor, Don always knew his land had potential. At first he considered dividing it and selling off a lot, but that wasn’t permitted under township rules. But there were other options.
“We weren’t able to divide and sell the land, but we were able to use the land for a second dwelling or bed and breakfast,” he says.
While Don didn’t want to open a B&B, he loved the glamping concept and decided to build a geodesic dome. Complete with a transparent section in the roof, it would offer glamping-plus.
“It’s not a 5-star experience; it’s a 5,000-star experience because our guests get to fall asleep under thousands of stars,” says Don.
The dome would also need something a little less glamorous: a septic system to accommodate the kitchen and washroom. That was when Don called Muskoka Excavation and Septic.
Septic supportWhether you’re adding to the footprint of your cottage or adding an outbuilding like a bunkie, Matt Rouleau and Jason Caron, owners of Muskoka Excavation and Septic and Muskoka Rock Blasting, say there are several considerations to be aware of.
First, you need to consider what your property is zoned for. If your building plan does not fit your zoning, your municipality will not issue the building permit.
Secondly, you’ll need to consider your design – if you’re adding another bedroom or bathroom to your home, you may need to expand your current septic tank to accommodate the increased water use. If you’re creating a stand-alone building that has indoor plumbing, Matt says that structure will likely need its own septic system.
Finally, you will need to consider the type of treatment you’ll need. The team at Muskoka Excavation and Septic offers conventional septic and tertiary treatment units, such as Bionest, Waterloo Biofilter, Eljen, and many others. “These tertiary treatment units are often a requirement for building on bedrock, allowing your system to further filter effluent before it reaches the native soil.”
While Matt works with many builders like Don who draw up their own plans, he is no stranger to working with municipal building departments to draw up site plans and septic designs that comply with municipal requirements.
Landscape considerationsDon had identified the location of the septic tank on his site plan, but Matt quickly discovered that the spot wasn’t suitable. “One of the greatest challenges that come with building in Muskoka is that the landscape is never uniform,” he says. “So we had to redesign the plan.”
After careful consideration, Matt found the ideal location: out of view of guests, away from neighbouring properties, far enough from the dome’s water source, and yet close enough to the structure.
“The location was ideal,” says Matt. “It’s not an eyesore, and it didn’t require removing any additional trees.”
Don notes that Matt and his team worked directly with the township and building inspector to make the process quick, easy, and stress-free.
Once the plans were approved and the permit was issued, the septic system only took two days for Matt and his team to install.
“As a homeowner, I can say it was a pleasure working with them,” says Don. “And as a contractor, I’m confident that I would use them again and refer them to my clients.”
Need a new septic?
How to know if your system needs to be upgraded or replaced.
You’re adding a bunkie or boathouse: If you’re adding an outbuilding and want that space to have a separate bathroom or plumbed kitchen, you will likely need a separate septic system. If your new structure is close enough to the cottage – and your existing tank is large enough – you may be able to share a tank.
You’re expanding the cottage: Surprisingly, the size of your septic system is based in part on the number of bedrooms in your cottage, not the number of bathrooms. Then there’s a complex formula that looks at the number of extra plumbing fixtures you add, as well as the square footage of the building. Essentially, if you’re adding rooms, your septic system may need to be expanded.
Aging tank: a septic tank can last anywhere from 15 to 30 years. While regular pumping and maintenance can prolong the life of your septic system, if yours has been around for two decades or longer, you should look at replacing it.
Of course, each property is unique. To understand your needs, book an in-person septic consultation. Matt Rouleau is a certified septic designer and installer with years of knowledge and experience in Muskoka.
“We can calculate and design your septic system precisely to fit your lot and your family’s use,” says Matt. “We do our own designs, making it quicker and easier to give you the right septic system with a consistent vision from start to finish.”
TEXT SHELANNE AUGUSTINE | PHOTOS ANDREW FEARMAN