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.
|TYPICAL SITE DEVELOPMENT COSTS|
|Municipal Water/Sewer||On-Site Water/Septic|
|Permitting & Fees|
|Building, inspection, certificate of occupancy (CO)||$300||$5,000||$300||$5,000|
|Soil test (perc testing)||$100||$500|
|Impact fee (if charged)||$5,000||$25,000||$5,000||$25,000|
|Water & Sewer Connection: (total includes tap fees, trenching, piping — some work may be done by private contractors)|
|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|
|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|
|Paving (asphalt or concrete)||$3,000||$10,000||$3,000||$10,000|
|Note: Costs can vary widely depending on site conditions and local labor, material, permitting, and utility hookup costs. Always get cost estimates for your project from local contractors, utilities, and officials.|
Download Typical Site Development Costs (.xls)
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Cost Breakdown for Modular Home
My husband and I are looking for a easy step-by-step breakdown and the real cost of preparing for a nice modular home with land. What should we look for and what will that budget look like?
There are many variables here, so it is not possible to give you a generic budget that is accurate. Land, site development, and building costs vary a great deal across the country. You really need to do your homework for the specific project you have in mind.
Ask the modular housing company what is the base price of the house you want, and what is the cost of the house with any add-ons or upgrades that you want: energy package, upgraded appliances, better flooring, wood or brick siding, porch, etc. Get an itemized estimate so you can see which upgrades, if any, are worth it to you.
That will give you the base cost for the modular package when it’s ready to ship to your site. On top of that, you will need to add for:
Excavation and foundation
Delivery and crane
Button-up carpentry (connecting the modular sections together and attaching to the foundation, plus additional trim and finish)
Utilities: Well and septic or connection to town water and sewer; electrical, gas, other
Site work: rough and finish grading, driveway and walkways, topsoil, lawn, and plantings
Garage, if needed
Permits and fees
Cost of land
Before you have even added the cost of land, it is easy to double the base price quoted for the home. Some manufacturers will offer a “turnkey” price, often working in conjunction with a local builder who will provide the foundation, carpentry, and site work. Again, ask for an itemized estimate so you can see where the money is going and what exactly is included in the price.
Even a turnkey price will not cover every cost you will incur. It may not include all permits and fees, appliances, window treatments, and landscaping, for example.
One big advantage of getting a turnkey product is that there is one-point responsibility if there are problems, rather than finger pointing. A few years, back I got the following estimate for pretty high-end custom home in a high-cost state. This is certainly on the high end of what you can expect, but may provide a useful benchmark.
$131,000 Base price of home
29,000 Upgraded energy package, flooring, trim, and siding
20,000 Excavation and full foundation
4,000 Delivery and crane
42,000 Button up (on-site carpentry)
48,000 Site improvements (well line to shared well, septic tank/pump, trenching and connections to house, electrical to lot and house, rough/finish driveway, finish grading, topsoil and seeding)
25,000 Garage (optional)
3,000 Permits and fees
Read more on Do Modular Homes Save You Money?