Installing Your Private Sewer Line

When you receive notice that sewer is available in your area or that you have a nonconforming sewer, you may be required to connect to the sewer branch at your property line or install a sewer lateral from your property to the public sewer. This page has resources to help you through that process.
On this page

Getting Started 

Before installing your private sewer lateral, you must pay your system connection charges. View the Connecting to the Sewer Costs page for more information on connection charges. 

Once your connection charges have been paid, the next step to installing your private sewer lateral is to make arrangements to connect your building to the branch at your property line if one has been built. If you are unsure where your sewer branch is or if a branch has been built, you can verify the location by contacting Environmental Services UR and UC Permits (contact information on this page). 

Finding a Contractor 

Plumbers and sewer contractors make most sewer connections, but any general contractor can also do the work on private property. We recommend contacting several contractors and requesting free, written bids for the work. To find a contractor, ask your friends and neighbors if they have referrals. You can also use the Sewer Contractors List as a starting point for your research. 

Alternative Options

Most property owners choose their own contractor, but other options are available:

  • Form a neighborhood co-op: If more than one building in your area needs to connect to the sewer, forming a neighborhood co-op may be an option. By agreeing to use the same contractor and having all jobs done at the same time, neighbors may be able to reduce their overall costs.
  • Do-It-Yourself: If the sewer lateral work is all on private property (and not in a public sewer easement on private property), property owners may choose to tackle the sewer connection job themselves because of the nature of the work and the equipment required. Property owners planning to do the work themselves should contact the Bureau of Development Services, as they have specialized information regarding the requirements and permitting process.

Be an Informed Consumer 

All contractors must be registered with the Oregon Construction Contractors Board. It is illegal for contractors to do sewer connections unless they are registered. Most contractors carry registration cards showing their Contractors Board number and registration expiration date. You can check with the Contractors Board to see if the contractor’s license, insurance, and bonding are current and if the contractor has a history of claims or complaints. You can call the Contractors Board at 503-378-4621 or visit their website. The Contractors Board has a process for homeowners to make complaints or file claims when there is a construction contract dispute. 

Each Sewer Connection is Different

Your connection and the cost will not be identical to your neighbor's. Factors include: 

  • The location of your cesspool, septic system, private sewer lines, and your building’s plumbing.
  • Whether your building has a basement, crawl space, or concrete slab.
  • Location of landscaping, concrete, utilities, or other property features.
  • The depth of your connection (depth of lateral if it exists and if it extends to your property line).
  • Will your lateral work extend into the public right-of-way, and are there conflicts with other public utilities.
  • How close your building is to the front and side property lines.
  • The contractor you choose to do the work.

Researching Contractors

Once you have found potential contractors to do the work, it’s a good idea to make a list of questions for the contractor so you can compare bids. Be specific about what you want to be included in your bid and the quality of work you expect.

Ask how the contractor handles city permits. The permits for a sewer connection typically cost about $500. Most contractors include this cost in their bid, and they get the required permits. Occasionally, contractors will ask you to buy the permits. If the permit is in your name, you may be liable for damages.

The permit fee covers the inspection of the pipe and the connection. The inspection ensures that the job meets state plumbing code and City requirements and codes but does not guarantee the quality of the finished work or the restoration of your landscape. Make sure you discuss those items and include them in your contract.

Ask each contractor for numbers and expiration dates of the following:

  • Oregon Construction Contractors Board Registration
  • Workers Compensation Policy
  • Liability Insurance Policy

Ask for a detailed written bid and a schedule. The bid should clearly state all work the contractor will do, and the price. It should say when the contractor will start and finish the job.

Ask each contractor for two or three references from recent customers. If possible, look at the completed work. Talking to one former customer may not be enough. Another customer may be satisfied, but their standards may differ from yours. It’s a good idea to call two or three references.

Compare. Once you have gathered all your information, it’s time to compare bids and choose your contractor. The lowest bid is not necessarily the best bid.

Potential City System Development Charges

If you establish a new connection to the sewer and decommission a septic system or cesspool, you will owe sewer connection charges, including line, branch, and system development charges. If you have a nonconforming sewer, you may owe a conversion charge.

Before you or your contractor can buy permits for the job, you must pay or finance these charges. For more information on the connection charges, visit the Connecting to the Sewer Costs page.

For more information on how to finance the connection charge and construction of your sewer line, visit the Financial Assistance for Sewer Connection and Conversion page.