Get Estimates From Well Specialists Near You

How Much Does It Cost To Drill Or Dig a Well?

on 10/18/2023 | Reading time: 15 minutes
Well drilling
Image by jeswin on Freepik

Wells have been instrumental in human development, providing a steady, reliable water source. You can access this vital resource by digging or drilling into underground aquifers. The cost associated with these operations can vary significantly based on numerous factors, including location, depth, and the materials required.

Factors Influencing the Cost of a Well

  1. Depth and Width of the Well: The deeper the well, the higher the cost due to increased labor and materials. Furthermore, the soil or rock type can significantly impact the price.
  2. Method of Well Construction:
    • Manual digging, usually shallower, could range between $15 and $30 per foot.
    • Mechanical drilling, necessary for deeper wells, could cost between $50 and $100 per foot.
  3. Location and Accessibility: Transporting equipment to remote or hard-to-reach places can add significantly to the initial costs.
  4. Quality and Type of Materials: Durable materials designed to prevent contamination and withstand the underground environment are more costly but crucial for the well's longevity.
  5. Labor Costs: Labor costs can range widely, from around $4,000 to over $10,000, depending on the well's depth and complexity and regional cost differences.
  6. Legal and Regulatory Factors: The need for permits and professional assessments can add $1,000 - $3,000 to the project cost.

Additional Costs for a Functional Well

  1. Pump Installation: A necessary feature for water extraction, pumps vary in cost. A simple hand pump can cost as little as $50, whereas a sophisticated electric or solar pump system can range from $500 to $2,000.
  2. Water Treatment Systems: Depending on local water quality, treatment systems might be necessary, ranging from $100 for essential filtration to upwards of $1,000 for more advanced systems.
  3. Well Housing and Protection: To secure the well from environmental factors or tampering, initial investments might include a few hundred dollars for basic security.
  4. Maintenance: Annual maintenance can range from $100 to $500, while unforeseen repairs can significantly exceed these figures.

Potential Challenges and Added Expenses

Unexpected complications such as hitting bedrock earlier than anticipated, encountering a dry well, or facing extreme weather conditions can inflate costs by thousands of dollars. Contingency funds are a crucial part of budget planning.

Financing and Support Options

In some regions, governmental grants and loans are available to support the construction of wells, particularly in areas where access to water significantly impacts community welfare. Interest rates and terms can vary widely based on individual circumstances and locale.

Basic Formula for Calculating Well-Drilling Costs

To estimate the cost of drilling or digging a well, you'll need to consider several primary factors:

  1. Cost of digging or drilling per foot (C): This is the base cost for the drilling process per foot, and it varies based on location, the company hired, and the complexity of the terrain.
  2. Depth of the well (D): This is how deep (in feet) the well needs to reach the water source.
  3. Pump and installation costs (P): The costs can vary significantly based on the pump's type and the intricacy of the installation.
  4. Water treatment system costs (T): If the water from the well requires treatment, there will be additional costs for the necessary systems.
  5. Miscellaneous costs (M): These are additional costs, such as permits, additional labor for unexpected issues, well housing construction, and other expenses not included in the drilling, pump, or water treatment costs.
  6. Contingency allowance (CA): This is an additional amount (usually a percentage of the total estimated cost) set aside to cover unexpected expenses or overruns. A common approach is to put this at 10-20% of the total estimated costs.

Given these factors, the basic formula for estimating the total cost of the well would be:

Total Estimated Cost = (C * D) + P + T + M + CA

Breaking this down:

  1. Drilling costs: This calculation helps estimate the cost associated with the drilling process, depending on how deep the well needs to be.

    Drilling costs = C * D

  2. Adding the other costs: After calculating the drilling costs, add the costs associated with the pump, water treatment, and any miscellaneous expenses.
  3. Adding the contingency allowance: This step is essential to ensure the budget includes an allowance for unforeseen expenses.

    Contingency Allowance = (C * D + P + T + M) * (1 + (CA/100))

    if CA is a percentage.

Therefore, the complete formula, assuming CA is considered a percentage, would be:

Total Estimated Cost = (C * D + P + T + M) * (1 + (CA/100))

Example Calculation

Let's assume the following for a project:

  • Cost per foot (C) = $50
  • Depth of well (D) = 100 feet
  • Pump and installation (P) = $1,500
  • Water treatment system (T) = $1,000
  • Miscellaneous (M) = $500
  • Contingency allowance (CA) = 15%

Plugging these numbers into our formula would be:

Total Estimated Cost = (50 * 100 + 1,500 + 1,000 + 500) * (1 + (15/100)) = (5,000 + 1,500 + 1,000 + 500) * 1.15 = 8,000 * 1.15 = $9,200

The total estimated cost for this project, including a contingency allowance, would be $9,200.  

This formula provides a basic framework for the calculations. However, it's essential to consult with professionals who can assess the specifics of your project and provide a detailed quote, as real-world scenarios can introduce variables that this simplified formula doesn't account for.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Drilling or Digging a Well

1. How much will it cost to drill a well?

Drilling a well can have a widely variable cost, influenced by factors like location, depth, soil conditions, and more. On average, you might expect to spend anywhere from $1,500 to $12,000, with more complex projects requiring additional investment. It's essential to get a local professional's estimate to understand the specific costs in your area.

2. Is digging or drilling a well a better option?

It would help if you chose between digging and drilling a well based on the ground conditions and the depth of the water source. Drilling is usually more appropriate for reaching deeper water sources while digging might be sufficient for shallower depths. The better option will depend on geological surveys and professional advice based on your property's specifics.

3. How long does it take to construct a well?

Well construction duration can vary from a few days to several weeks, contingent on factors like well depth, drilling conditions, and prevailing weather. Unexpected delays due to equipment, geological surprises, or permit issues can also extend this timeline.

4. How can I estimate the depth of the well I need?

A hydrogeologic survey of your property typically determines the necessary well depth by identifying the depth of the water table and the aquifers present. Local well-drilling regulations and nearby wells' data can also provide insights into expected depth requirements.

5. What ongoing maintenance costs should I expect after constructing the well?

Well maintenance may include regular water quality testing, periodic pump repair or replacement, and system checks to ensure optimal operation. While these costs can fluctuate, it's advisable to allocate a few hundred dollars annually for maintenance and extra funds for unforeseen repair expenses.

6. What happens if the contractor doesn't find water?

The possibility of a "dry well" — when no water is found — is a risk. In such cases, based on professional advice, you might have to pay for the attempted drilling and then assess whether to try drilling again at a different location or depth. Contract agreements with the well company should outline the risks and costs of dry wells.

7. Do I need special permits to dig or drill a well?

Most likely, yes. Most local governments require permits for well construction to ensure water safety, environmental protection, and adherence to local land use regulations. The specifics vary widely between regions, so it's crucial to consult with local authorities or a legal advisor familiar with regional water laws.

8. How long can I expect my well to last?

A well-constructed and properly maintained well can last for several decades. The lifespan often depends on factors such as the well's construction quality, the materials used, adherence to maintenance schedules, and regional geological factors.

9. Can I drill a well anywhere on my property?

Not necessarily. The site for a well will depend on various factors, including safety considerations, potential sources of contamination, property boundaries, underground utilities, and local zoning regulations. A professional survey and consultation with local authorities will help determine the most suitable site for your property.

10. How will I know if the water is safe for consumption?

After you drill the well, it's vital to test the water for safety. Certified professionals should conduct this testing and include a range of biological, chemical, and physical parameters to ensure the water meets health standards. We recommend conducting regular tests as part of maintaining your well.

This FAQ section addresses the most common concerns and curiosities regarding well digging and drilling. However, specific details can vary, and Seeking advice from a professional who can offer guidance tailored to your project's particular characteristics and region is consistently recommended.

Questions to Ask When Evaluating Well Drilling or Digging Companies

1. How many years of experience do you have in well drilling/digging?

This question helps you understand the company's background and experience level. More years often suggest they have handled a variety of projects and challenges.

2. Could you furnish references or instances of previous projects with similarities to mine?

References or case studies can give you insight into the quality of their work and client satisfaction. It's even better if you can speak directly to past clients.

3. Are you licensed and insured for this kind of work?

The appropriate licensing ensures that the company complies with the necessary professional and legal standards for their work. On the other hand, insurance offers protection in case of accidents or property damage by covering liability.

4. Which permits do I need for my project, and will your company manage the permitting process?

Knowledge about necessary permits shows their familiarity with local regulations. If they manage the permitting, it can save you a lot of bureaucratic hassle.

5. Can you conduct a hydrogeological survey, or do you work with professionals who can?

This survey is crucial in understanding the water table, quality, and challenges specific to your site. They should work closely with a trusted expert if they need help to handle it.

6. What is the estimated total cost, and what does it include?

You need a precise, itemized estimate to understand what you're paying for and to compare it with other companies. It also helps avoid hidden fees.

7. What procedures do you have in place for unexpected complications or cost changes?

It's essential to know how they handle unforeseen challenges like hitting bedrock or finding contaminated water and how these scenarios affect the overall cost and timeline.

8. How do you ensure the quality and safety of the water from the wells you construct?

The company should have procedures for testing water quality and ensuring the well's structural integrity, preventing contamination.

9. What type of equipment do you use, and how does it affect the time needed to complete the project?

Modern, well-maintained equipment typically provides more efficient and reliable results. The type of equipment might also affect the project duration.

10. What kind of maintenance and support do you offer post-completion?

Regular maintenance is vital for the longevity and safety of your well. Knowing that the company offers support can be reassuring for future needs or emergencies.

11. What warranties or guarantees do you provide with your service?

Guarantees can provide peace of mind, ensuring that the company stands behind the quality of its work and addressing any deficiencies.

12. How will communication be handled throughout the project?

Regular updates and open communication lines are crucial during a significant project. Knowing who your point of contact is and how responsive they are can influence your decision.

By asking these questions, you get a comprehensive understanding of each company's capabilities, work ethic, and commitment to customer satisfaction. It's wise to listen to their answers and pay attention to how willing they are to discuss these details, as it can be a strong indicator of their customer service approach.


Establishing a well is a complex project with many variables affecting the cost. Proper planning, consultation with professionals, and understanding the detailed expenses involved are crucial steps in budget preparation and project execution. Contacting local experts is strongly recommended for a tailored cost estimate and advice.

About the author
The Crackerjack editorial team is well-versed in the complexities of online marketplaces, from e-commerce giants to niche platforms catering to specific industries. They provide insightful coverage on topics such as platform governance, user experience, seller dynamics, and buyer behavior, offering readers a comprehensive understanding of the marketplace landscape.

Our Pricing Methodology

At Crackerjack, we assist many people each year with their projects. Our process involves collecting estimates from local professionals and conducting our own research, which we use to provide you with valuable price information. Please note that the prices provided in the current article are for informational purposes only and may change at any time. To receive a personalized cost estimate for your specific project, we recommend contacting a professional in your area.

How it works

Instantly get matched with top-rated professionals.

Post a project or find a pro

We'll connect you with the best local businesses and freelancers near you. Just choose your service category and where you're located. Expedite the process by adding more criteria to your search.

Hire Pro

Find a Pro. Receive quotes within short period of time from local businesses and freelancers. Review their quotes and portfolios. Talk to the ones who stand out, and hire the right one for your project.

Share your experience

Leave verified reviews for great work and help promote the pros who go above and beyond.