Installing a rainwater tank: A step-by-step DIY adventure


Nestled in the heart of a semi-arid region, our homestead stands as a testament to resilience and sustainable living. Here, every drop of water is precious, a vital resource that sustains not just our family but the surrounding ecosystem as well. Recognizing the critical importance of water conservation, we embarked on a finding a sustainable solution to our water problem. We had the space and water catchment are but no place to capture the limited amount of water we got each year. We needed a rainwater tank and based on our future water needs a really big one.

Water is not light and the investment in storage can be expensive. we decided on buying a rainwater tank but that is just the a small part of the process and there are many things to consider when installing a tank. He are some common question you might want to consider:

Location: is it going to close to usage or water catchment? Is there anything that could containment the water like and overhead tree branch
Elevation: should the tank be at on my land; can I use a higher elevation to feed water to a lower elevation for free
Ground: Is the ground sturdy enough or flat enough to support tons of water when the tank is full; is the ground likely to move over time
Wildlife: Do I need to consider insects such as mosquitoes or wild animal that can damage the tank?

Finding the Perfect Rainwater Tank Supplier

The project kicked off with the crucial task of finding a reliable supplier for the rainwater tank. This process was more intricate than anticipated. It involved deep research, comparing different suppliers not only based on their prices but also their reputation, quality of tanks, and after-sale services. I delved into customer reviews, checked their product range, and assessed their environmental practices. The choice was finally made based on a balance of cost, quality, and the supplier’s commitment to sustainable practices.

Laying a Solid Foundation: The Tank Base

After selecting the supplier, the next significant step was constructing the base for the rainwater tank. According to the supplier’s specifications, a solid base made from crusher dust was necessary. Crusher dust, being a finely crushed rock powder, creates a firm and stable base, crucial for supporting the weight of the tank, especially when filled with water. This phase highlighted the importance of a solid foundation in ensuring the longevity and effectiveness of the rainwater harvesting system. Precise measurements and careful leveling were essential in this step, ensuring that the base was perfectly horizontal and stable.

Erecting a Sturdy Retaining Wall

The plan also included building a 500mm high retaining wall, encompassing a 12m x 12m area around the tank base. This retaining wall was not just a structural necessity but also added an aesthetic dimension to the entire setup. The construction of the retaining wall involved choosing the right materials, ensuring it was strong enough to withstand the soil pressure, and meticulously laying each brick or stone. This phase demanded a blend of engineering precision and a touch of landscaping artistry.

Conquering Geological Challenges

A significant challenge encountered was dealing with a caliche layer beneath the construction site. This hardened layer of soil, rich in calcium carbonate, posed a major obstacle. Drilling through this layer to insert reinforcement steel bars was a test of patience and strength. This step was crucial for the structural integrity of the base, ensuring it could withstand the weight and environmental factors over time.

The Labor of Love: Hand Mixing Cement

One of the most labor-intensive parts of the project was mixing cement by hand. This process, though time-consuming and physically demanding, was critical for creating a strong, durable base. The task required a consistent mix, the right proportion of materials, and a lot of manual labor, but it was a satisfying process seeing the base take shape with each mix.

An Unexpected Visitor: The Baby Brown Snake

A unique aspect of this project was an encounter with a baby brown snake. This encounter was a stark reminder that while we embark on such projects, we are intruding into the natural habitat of local wildlife. The decision to leave the snake undisturbed was a small gesture of respecting and coexisting with the ecosystem around us.

The Joy of Machinery: Skids and Compactors

Despite the challenges, the project had its moments of fun and learning. Using a skid to move and compact bases introduced an element of excitement. Learning to operate a compactor, though initially dizzying due to the vibrations, was an enjoyable and informative experience. These machines significantly eased the process of laying and compacting the base.

Project Completion: A Testament to Hard Work

After just over a week, the base was ready, marking the completion of the most challenging part of the project. The satisfaction derived from completing this phase was immense. It was a testament to hard work, perseverance, and a commitment to sustainable living.


The journey of building a rainwater tank base was more than just a DIY project; it was a learning experience in sustainability, patience, and hard work. Each step, from choosing the right supplier to mixing cement and encountering local wildlife, added layers to this adventure. This project serves as a blueprint for anyone looking to embark on a similar sustainable endeavor, proving that with determination and respect for nature, such challenges can be transformed into rewarding achievements.