Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

Don’t put the cart before the horse!

Who wouldn’t want one of these to get free water with?

Being a bit of a greenie, one of the jobs I wanted to get done around the house before I retire was to put in another rainwater tank, this time in the front yard. Using rainwater to water my gardens would surely help to ‘retire-proof’ my future self by lowering my water bills and giving me more money to use gallivanting around Europe and the UK. It was a good plan. What could possibly go wrong?

I have a paved patch of ground about one and a half metres from the house which would fit a slimline water tank admirably. I surprised myself by being practical and grabbing a tape measure to accurately measure the dimensions at my disposal, then I spent DAYS looking at all the different websites of what was on offer. Finally, I ordered a 3,200L steel water tank for 2K.

Phew! Done. All that was left was for me to get a plumber to install it. What could possibly go wrong?

The sort of tank I was looking at.

Maybe I should’ve asked that question before I ordered the tank.

The plumber came out to give me a quote. Incidentally, working part-time has the unexpected benefit that I can actually be at home when tradies come. Anyway, he walked around, grabbed a camera on a long coil of cord to look down the stormwater drain, he sprayed paint on the grass to mark where the outflow would have to be dug to, then he went away to tot up the quote.

I went inside and spoke to Ryan25. “He’s talking about having to do a lot of digging,” I said. “It might cost as much to put the water tank in as it did to pay for the darned thing in the first place.”

Soon after came a knock at the door and I went out to hear how much this project was going to set me back.

That plumber when he’s at home.

Six Thousand One Hundred Dollars.

Yep. It was going to cost 3 times what the tank cost just to get it installed, plumbed and connected to the pump. Yikes!

I was pretty definite about how I wouldn’t be going ahead with this job. From memory, I think my initial reaction was, “WHAT?!? No. No no no!” I got another quote and it was pretty much the same.

So guess who now has to get a refund from the water tank company? How I wish that I’d sussed out whether it was easily and affordably do-able before I’d actually shelled out 2K to buy the tank in the first place. What an idiot!


  1. Kathy Aylward

    That is completely crazy stuff…I had 3 water tanks installed when I built a house a number of years ago and they were joined together so one fed into the other and it didn’t cost $6K. Maybe go to bunnings and see if you can buy several smaller ones to pop around the place to catch water, think big rubbish bin. I’m not surprised you were shocked I would be too. It’s enough that a plastic tank costs $2k in the first place. Surely they will have to refund you and you might have to pay for delivery back to the store.

    • FrogdancerJones

      To be fair, it was a steel tank, not plastic. It was going to be in full sun so I was a bit leery of plastic.
      Luckily the shop hadn’t delivered it yet, so I rand and cancelled the order. At first they tried to talk me out of it, but when I casually mentioned that one of the outrageously expensive quotes came from the plumber they themselves recommend on their website, they said they’d give me a refund.

  2. Aussie HIFIRE

    Wow 6 grand seems like an insane amount of money for getting a water tank installed? Was there anything at all complex about it?

    Also, I’m amazed that you had two tradies actually turn up on the day that they said they would be there!

    • FrogdancerJones

      It was only 1.5 metres away from the house, but there was no downpipe near, which means that they’d have to dig to install both the inlet and outlet pipes.
      As for the tradies turning up, you DO realise that you’re talking to Fortunate Frogdancer, don’t you?

  3. Latestarterfire

    Wow! I am so glad you wrote this up because I am in the process of assessing whether I should install a rain water tank at the back of my unit. Ok, more research is necessary from my end ….

    • FrogdancerJones

      Yep. Talk to plumbers before you order. 🙂

  4. freddy smidlap

    sounds overly complicated to me if you have some gutters already in place. here’s my analogy: we used to have a little fish pond (since filled in) in our back garden. we just circulated the water with a cheap (~200 USD) filter pump. i would think if we had collected the water from our roof we could have pumped it to water the garden with a similar system. i’m glad you got out of that whole mess anyhow. we like to rig things DIY cheap-o around here.

    • FrogdancerJones

      I’d love to do that too, but I appear to have missed out on the “handy-dandy-practical” gene.
      Although I CAN do housepainting.

  5. Jamie

    Hmm interesting….

    I’ve been interested in putting a tank beside our house since we moved in. There is a downpipe not too far from there, so hopefully it would only take a bit of tweaking of the gutter to get it to run into the tank and we could figure out a way to use the existing ‘waste’ pipe.

    The real problem is that the ‘waste’ pipe drains on to the land behind us, then down a big gully. It hasn’t been an issue so far (or since everything was built in the 1960s) as the land has been used as a sporting oval for a now-closed conference centre. My concern is that a DA is about to go into council for accommodation, parking and an amenities block to be built on that oval. Also, all the water runoff from our street, and the masses of water when they flush the town water supply, all run down onto this oval. We have no kerb and guttering or, obviously, underground stormwater drains on our street. When the project consultants came out last year I mentioned it to them and they said it was a council issue. But I noticed on their demolition DA that council put in the conditions that all drainage issues are on the company.

    It will be interesting to see how things develop.

    • FrogdancerJones

      You might have to move quickly to get the tank installed before the bureaucracy gets involved…

  6. Bethany

    Gotta love house projects! I’m currently on a fun ‘rabbit-trail’ that started with just a few weeds. Well, make that a lot of weeds. As in we have a neglected 1/3 of an acre to care for (we’re new-ish homeowners) and there’s no way I can pull every weed by hand. So I started researching weed torches, which will cost $100-$250 but hey it’ll save my back. And weed torches are awesome so you can use them to help with other projects like searing delicious steaks and repairing cracks in the driveway… wait those are supposed to be fixed? Don’t we have some of those? Um, maybe a LOT of those? >_< Sooo, uh, long story short it looks like we'll need to budget a few MORE hundreds of dollars for supplies and probably two-three weekends of time just to take care of patching, filling, and re-sealing the driveway. And I still haven't even gotten to order my weed torch yet. 🙁

    • FrogdancerJones

      Yep, it’s a cascade effect.
      But a weed torch could be fun…

  7. Mrs Groovy

    Wow, that sounds incredibly high. It cost us $4K for our well, including installation. And that’s with 125 ft of drilling into the ground! I’m so glad you were able to get a refund! No, you’re not an idiot! Us lay-people don’t expect exorbitant prices.

    • FrogdancerJones

      Yes, that 6K is better deployed elsewhere!

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