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Do You Need a Permit For a French Drain?

Do You Need a Permit For a French Drain?

French drains aren’t just used in France when it comes to drains, they’re a type of drain that uses an underground piping system to collect rainwater. So if your patio or basement has a drainage problem, you may want to consider installing a French drain.

French drains channel excess water to lower-lying places where it doesn’t harm. In modern, effective French drains, an underground perforated drain tube is buried in an 8 to 12-inch gravel-filled trench tube.

However, a question you want to ask is whether or not a French Drain requires a day permit to be built and other details related to French Drains.

To find the answers to all of these questions, keep reading.

Do You Need a Permit to Install a French Drain?

Drainage work on your property typically does not necessitate a permit from the city.

However, a permit may be necessary in the following situations:

  • Installing a sump pump if the job includes moving any structures on your land
  • For any electrical work.

In the United States, Federal law mandates that storm drain water must be free of certain toxins and sediments; therefore, towns may request licenses from whoever is concerned before building drainage systems.

Also, there may be special restrictions in the United Kingdom to discharge a French drain into a ditch or waterway.

Final thoughts: a lot will depend on the local rules regarding whether or not you need a permit. Therefore, finding out from your local authority will help you out.

How Close Can You Put a French Drain To Your House?

It would be best to keep this in mind when you’re putting in a French drainage system. To build a French drain, you must be at least 3 meters away from the footing of your home as mentioned in Wikihow. This rule should be rigidly enforced to avoid structural issues in the long run.

How Deep Does a French Drain Need To Be?

A French drain begins by excavating a hole. Trench width and depth can vary, but the most usual widths are 5 to 6 inches wide and 8 to 12 inches deep.

Gas and water lines, electrical wires, and sewer lines are all potential risks that may need to be avoided during this excavation. Also, as a precaution, it’s crucial that you avoid digging too deep, as this could cause the house’s foundation to be undermined- you do not want that.

Does a French Drain Need an Outlet?

No exit is needed in a well-designed French drain system. Instead, allowing the water to trickle down the perforated pipe will slowly seep into the ground.

A single-ended entry isn’t necessary for a French drain, though. Instead, you can build a drain that accepts water from all points along its course and distributes it beneath the surface.

Can You Cover a French Drain With Dirt?

If aesthetics are an issue, it is possible to leave the drain exposed or cover it with a few inches of topsoil and grass.

Native soil should be filled to 12 inches above the pipe to prevent the crushed stone from getting on the tube and causing damage.

You can also choose to install French drains by using perforated drain pipes, which allow water to enter or depart through small gaps on the pipe.

In this case, cover the pipe with at least 30 centimeters of washed gravel. The filter cloth should be placed on the gravel to prevent any dirt from being caught in the filter.

It is usual for this layer to have a diameter of less than 1 inch, as bigger gravel improves water flow and reduces the risk of clogs and jams.

In the absence of a perforated pipe, you can use gravel tubes one and a half inches in diameter.

How Much Does it Cost to Put a French Drain?

French Drains can be classified in three ways: one of which is the shallow French drain running horizontally across your land to direct water away from a particular location of your home or property.

If you’re dealing with surface water, this is an excellent choice. Also, if water is leaking into your basement, you may want to investigate this option.

As a result of this, French drain installation costs might vary widely; the price will be in the average range of $2,800 – $6,500 according to a cost guide. Additionally, the charge is dependent on the basement’s dimensions and several sump pumps you decide to install.

What Does a French Drain Empty Into?

If you have a pond or lake on your land, a French drain should be emptied there, or you can route the drain to a low region of your property where standing water will not cause any harm.

Does French Drain Really Work?

Yes, french drains do work. In the case of a house’s foundation, you can make use of French drains to divert water away from the region. The most fantastic strategy to keep water away from your house’s foundation is to have good drainage.

The foundation of your home should have a French drain system installed.

  • First, remove the water by digging a trench around the foundation
  • Cover it with gravel
  • Then, construct a drain with holes.

As a result, it prevents water from gaining the necessary pressure to enter the basement in the first place, thereby preventing any water damage.

Installed inside or outside the foundation, a French drain, often known as a “tile drain,” keeps most basements dry and never needs to be maintained or replaced.

How Do You Know What Kind of Drainage System You Need?

Before you decide on a French drain, keep a few things in mind. A different type of French drain will be used in these three scenarios below:

1. Surface water

This can create problems, such as a soggy lawn or a washed-out driveway.

If water seeps into your basement, a shallow French drain can be installed. As the name implies, it spreads horizontally over your property, directly upwards from the region you intend to dry. Now, a shallow French drain is  a water catchment system that directs water away from the puddle.

The drain needs to be 2 feet deep and 1.5 feet broad to be effective. If the drain is near trees or plants, use a solid non-perforated pipe instead of a perforated one to reduce the chance of roots blocking the line.

Cost per linear foot: $10 to $16.

2. If water seeps into your basement

a. Install a large French drain, a foundation drain is a pipe that goes around the outside of your house and collects water before it enters the basement.

To add, it’s considerably more difficult and expensive than installing it during building. Digging down into your foundation may be necessary if your basement walls are high. In addition, the drain installation will likely need tearing up landscaping, decks, and walkways, all of which may increase the cost.

It’s possible that your drainage system will not function properly if you don’t use a sump pump to raise the accumulated water and send it to the storm drainage system in the basement.

Cost: $12,000 for a 1,500-square-foot basement with a depth of 6 feet.

b. Alternatively, a French drain can be installed in a basement. The best approach to keep your basement dry is with a French indoor drain, which acts as a deflector for water entering your foundation.

  • When installing the system in a basement that has been finished, you will need to remove the inside walls. This shouldn’t be an issue if your basement is already infested with water.
  • Perforated piping will be installed in a channel around the perimeter of your basement floor after crews cut out the concrete and install it. A sump pumps the water into the yard or a gully from a holding tank that is lowered into the ground.

This will cost about $3000.

3. When installing a slope retaining wall

A French drain should be installed behind the first row of bricks or blocks if you are installing a retaining wall.

Otherwise, water flowing downhill will back up behind the wall, eroding it from the foundations up. Compacted gravel or concrete foundations should be used to support both pipe and wall.

Before attaching the pipe and the draining gravel, spread a landscaping cloth over the base or foundation to prevent the drain from clogging with mud. Make sure that the fabric is folded over the gravel and soil at the top of the wall, then add a few inches of dirt on top.

Cost: Only drainage gravel costs $25 per cubic yard, while pipe costs 50 cents to $1 per linear meter during construction.


A French drain is the best solution for a wet garden or basement. Water usually takes the shortest and most direct route, and French drains bring solutions to these problems.

The need for a permit for a French drain, as explained, depends on the situation on the ground. For example, when installing a sump pump, doing electrical works or any other procedure highlighted by the Federal law.