Most people who decide to move to a rural land site must include the cost of drilling a water well in their budgeting for the homestead. Rural land sites typically don't have access to municipal water supplies, resulting in these systems and costs being borne by the homeowner.

A drilled well only provides a hole in the ground with water in it, lined with casing, to keep it from collapsing; you also need to add the cost of getting the water from the well to the home when budgeting well costs.

For example, two well drilling companies -- one in Pennsylvania and one that covers New Hampshire, Vermont and central Massachusetts -- state the cost for drilling a well and outfitting it with pump equipment averages between $5,000 and $7,000, at the time of publication. A couple in Arizona spent $6,750 to drill a well they plan to power using alternative energy sources. This did not include plumbing, power or pump costs.

Basic Well Drilling Costs

The licensed contractor you work with may offer you several options: a per-foot cost for the well drilling itself, along with separate costs for a pump and installation, electrical lines to power the pump -- if you are using electricity -- plumbing lines to bring the water up to the surface, pressure switches and a pressure or storage tank. At the time of publication, average per-foot drilling costs range from $15 to $30. The factors to consider when drilling a well include:

  • Permit fees
  • Well depth
  • Geological makeup of the ground
  • Per-foot drilling costs
  • Well caps and seals
  • Well equipment costs

Permit Fees

Before you can drill a well, you must apply for and receive a well-drilling permit, available from the local building jurisdiction or health department. One county in California, for example, charges $431 for the permit fees. These costs vary by state, county or region and year of issuance. Some municipalities also charge a fee for inspection of the completed work.

Well Depth

The depth of the well drives the per-foot cost of drilling it. Even if the contractor fails to find water, the homeowner pays for every foot drilled. An average well depth in Indiana, for example, runs about 120 feet deep. At $15 per foot -- including drilling and casing -- a 120-foot well costs $1,800. A mid-range price of $22.50 per foot results in a $2,700 well, while a $30 per foot well costs $3,600 not including permit fees and equipment costs.

Ground Makeup

What lies under the ground can figure into the cost as well. A well drilled in solid rock might not require the casing, but it can also affect the depth of the well. Wells drilled in solid rock can be as deep as 400 feet or more. At $15 per foot, that equates to $6,000. At $22.50 per foot expect to pay $9,000. When you pay $30 per foot, the drilled well costs $12,000 not including permit fees and equipment costs.

Drilling and Casing Costs

Some licensed well drillers roll up the costs of the casing into the drilling fees, while others do not, it all depends on the contractor. For contractors that don't include the casing fees in the per-foot drilling fees, they charge a separate per-foot cost for the casing, and in some cases, this can double the cost. In addition to these costs, even if the well driller doesn't find water at the bottom of the dug hole, they still have to pay for the drilled hole.

Well Caps and Seals

After the well is dug, well caps and seals protect the well from contamination from above-ground sources. This cost is usually part of the per-foot drilling costs. The local health department or building jurisdiction usually requires these additions for protecting both the well and the groundwater.

Equipment Considerations

Don't forget to include the equipment to operate the well. If you don't have access to electrical power supply, you'll either need to pay to have utility lines brought to the site or build an alternative power source such as solar, or a wind powered pump, which also add significantly to the well cost.

The depth of the well, the type of power supply and local building jurisdiction's minimum gallons per minute requirement all figure into the cost of the equipment needed to deliver water to the home. You also need to calculate the cost of the water distribution lines to the home and any pressure or storage tanks that may be needed.