It turns out that sure enough, we have some problems with our septic system. Part of it stems from our change in plans, but I can't say for sure if that is the complete root of the problem. The excavators came over early yesterday and right off the bat DC told me that he didn't think there was enough pitch from house to the tank to the leach field. The problem is, the farther the distance, the deeper everything has to go for gravity to do its job, and there is a limit as to how deep the leach field can be.
They seem to start with the leach field and work backwards. As it is, they are operating under less than optimal conditions, because the pipe is not as deep as it could be, so they are having to use blue board insulation. Today they will come and take more accurate measurements and then we have to make a decision, so we'll keep our fingers crossed.
The possible scenarios thus far are as follows: the tank will work out, though we may have to raise the bathroom in order to let gravity feed the pipe from the toilet. This is the best scenario, and the one we are hoping for. The other option would be that we have to install a pump system, which means more money (a lot, I believe), more maintenance, more headache, and more potential problems down the line. This is the worst case scenario and one that might put the project on indefinite hold. The final scenario would be to place the septic tank in the old position, on the side of the barn, and then we'd have to re-configure the layout, placing the bathroom on the side of the barn.
This is a total drag because we already anticipated putting the kitchen there, and would now have to either put the bathroom there, instead, and/or remove and re-install the windows. Not a fun prospect, but possible.
There is one more possibility, and one I should broach with the excavators. We could put the tank on the side of the house, shift the bathroom about 10 feet, then cut a huge slice of foundation out and lay the pipe through the barn floor so it would exit the side and reach the tank. This is probably #2 on our list of preferences, and might incur more cost due to the extra work cutting the concrete, but again, we'd like to maintain our layout.
We'll see where this one goes. We'll have more information today, so we'll keep our fingers crossed. Until then, thanks for reading.
BTW, N took this artsy pic of the excavator. Nice perspective.