Shangri La

Shangri La

Sunday, July 4, 2010

On Optimistic Estimates

Well, the fix is in: The revised septic is going to cost me about $6,700. Certainly better that the 11k+/- we were facing with the mound system, but significantly above the $5k I budgeted (and the $3,500 I was secretly hoping for). The same day the estimate came in, I happened to learn that psychologists long ago identified a systematic bias in humans toward overly optimistic estimates - even when those humans have experience with the thing being estimated. I don't have experience with estimating septic systems, but it helps to know that it wouldn't have mattered if I had. *sigh*

My original hope for this year had been to finish the siding (which means also building the front porch), install the electrical, hook up the well so we had water on the property (even if it was only through a hose) and get the septic installed. Doing this would mean that we could stay overnight and the exterior of the property would look finished - at least to the extent that the grass and grading would be complete.

The well, however, was about 2,000 more than I expected, and the septic looks like it will be the same, so something is going to have to wait. Our options:
  • Scrounge about $700 to put the septic in and wait on the well and porch
  • Finish hooking up the well, complete the porch and siding, and tuck away the remaining $2,500 toward next year's work.
I was on my way to arranging for the septic, but the LSW has convinced me that we should finish the well. Her reasoning? If we go with the well, porch and siding, at least we can say that everything we began this year is finished, and we have the option of staying overnight on occasion. If we go with the septic, we have the biggest remaining item out of the way, but only the electrical will actually be done, and we still can't use the place.

As always, I've asked Dan Taylor of Taylor excavating to take care of the trench from the well to the cabin, and Green Mountain Well will complete the process by adding the pump, pressure tank, hookup, sanitizing of the system and water testing. These items are supposed to come in at about $3,000 in total, and rest assured I've included a cushion to compensate for the so-called 'optimism bias' this time.

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