Site development (also called site improvement) costs can vary dramatically depending on the location and site conditions, and what work has already been done by the seller.  A steep site with a lot of ledge that requires an alternative septic system in an area with high permitting costs and impact fees could cost well over $100,000 to get ready for construction. At the other end of the spectrum, you might find a site in a low-cost area that has been cleared and rough graded, with the well already drilled, a conventional septic system already designed, and an electrical transformer (the big green box) ready for to connect to.

It’s difficult to generalize so you really need to do your homework  for each site you are considering.  Sticker shock is a familiar reaction when buyers do the research and discover the true costs of a bargain building site. However, it’s much better to be shocked before you buy than unpleasantly surprised as the bills come in for site improvement costs.

Read more about Budgeting for Site Development
Download Typical Site_Development Costs (.xls)

                                                                        Municipal                  On-Site
Description           Low           High         Low          High
Permitting & Fees
Building, inspection, certificate of occupancy (CO) $300 $5,000 $300 $5,000
Soil test (perc testing) $100 $500
Septic system $100 $3,000
Well $100 $1,000
Impact fee  (if charged) $5,000 $25,000 $5,000 $25,000
Driveway $50 $500 $50 $500
Water & Sewer Connection: (total include tap fees, trenching, piping — some work may be done by private contractors)  
Municipal water $700 $20,000
Municipal sewer $1,000 $15,000
Electrical connection $1,000 $5,000 $1,000 $5,000
Survey $300 $3,000 $300 $3,000
Engineering inspection $0 $1,000 $0 $1,000
Water well 
Drill, casing, and cap (per ft.) $40 $15 $40
Development, pump and wiring, trenching, piping, pressure tank,  disinfecting, etc. $2,000 $5,000
Water treatment (if needed) $1,000 $5,000
Septic System
Soil testing $300 $1,000
Design $500 $1,000
Installation $5,000 $30,000
Clearing $0 $2,500 $0 $2,500
Grading: rough and final (typ. Site) $2,500 $5,000 $2,500 $5,000
Site drainage (wet or steep sites) $1,000 $5,000 $1,000 $5,000
Steep site: grading, cut and fill $1,000 $5,000 $1,000 $5,000
Retaining walls                              (per sq. ft. of wall face) $20 $50 $20 $50
Landscaping $3,000 $20,000 $3,000 $20,000
Paving (asphalt or concrete) $3,000 $10,000 $3,000 $10,000
TOTAL $18,870 $122,090 $26,285 $133,590
Note: Costs can vary widely depending on site conditions and local labor, material, and permitting costs. Get cost estimates for your project from local contractors, utilities, and officials.



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