The Five Biggest Challenges of Site Development Costs


The Five Biggest Challenges of Site Development CostsYou’ve found what you’ve always envisioned as the perfect location for your forever home:  a secluded lot with large trees,  a nearby stream, and panoramic views–what could be more perfect? Idyllic as it may be, you’ll want to consult with a knowledgeable builder before purchasing the land, as the site development costs may price you out of building your dream home. Make sure your budget has room for the following considerations you may not have thought of.

5 Site Development Costs to Consider

These are just some of the more common site development costs. Consult with a builder and/or architect prior to purchasing a specific property, as they can help define realistic expectations relating to site development for your home-building budget.

1. Clearing trees and other plants.

If you choose to purchase untouched property, then your contractors will have to clear at least a portion of the site of bushes, rocks, and trees. If you want to save money on this part of the project, look for an open property that has already been cleared.

2. Pouring a foundation for the home and driveway.

When budgeting home-building costs, don’t forget to include one of the most important elements of the project:  the home’s foundation. Because the excavation of a home involves heavy machinery operated by skilled tradespeople, the cost is often more than one might expect. If the property is difficult to reach, such as in a mountainous or rocky area, the price will be commensurately higher. The driveway of the home requires a foundation, as well, which must be excavated and graded, adding to the overall cost.

3. Digging a basement.

Part of the foundation process involves planning for a basement. You’ll pay more up front to dig out a basement, but the added square footage gained could make it worth it in the long run. Depending upon the slope of your lot, you may have the option of digging a walk-out basement, which adds another level to your home that doesn’t even feel like a basement!

The footer drain in a home allows excess moisture and rainfall to drain away from the home’s foundation, thus preventing erosion from occurring and cracking the foundation. Make sure your builder includes this important cost in the budget for your home.

5. Testing the soil.

Yes–there are engineers who study dirt. Soil testing via percolation identifies your property’s soil for potential contaminants. Most wastewater is filtered through soil before entering the sewage system, so it is important that the soil on which your home will be built is clean and healthy. You’ll also want to verify that the soil has properties of stability.

Other Home-building Costs to Keep in Mind

But wait! That’s not all; prepare for these fees, as well:

1. The Property

Of course, when you create your budget, don’t forget to account for the cost of the land itself.

2. Utility Hookups

The cost for utility hookups and plumbing lines for washer, dryer, toilets, sinks, showers, etc. will vary depending on your location. If your home will hook up to a city sewage system, you will also have to pay for that.

3. Major Systems

Septic and HVAC systems will both incur installation fees.

4. City Fees and Permits

Depending on local guidelines and restrictions, you might be required to obtain certain fees and permits before beginning site prep. Your home itself will also need to pass safety guidelines.

5. Landscaping

No matter how beautiful the lot, you may wish to consider working with a landscape architect once the home is built to map out a plan for the yard and surrounding area. A professional will be able to help you select shrubs, flowers, and trees suited to your lot and climate, and can help develop a long-term plan for a phased approach to your landscaping, if you don’t have the money to do it all at one time.

6. Paving

Make sure your budget includes a line item for concrete flatwork for sidewalks, porches, patios, and driveway paving.

7. Equipment Fees

Talk to your general contractor about any equipment or materials you might have to purchase.

8. Labor Fees

Additionally, some contractors charge extra for unexpected labor. For example, site prep might end up being more complicated than originally estimated. Talk prices beforehand.

Who Are We, and How Can We Help?

Do you need help finding the perfect lot? At Sheffield Homes, we have more than 40 years of experience to help guide you through the home-building process, every step of the way. Call us today at (303) 420-0056 to begin planning your custom home in the Denver metro area or in northern Colorado.



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6777 Wadsworth Blvd
Arvada, CO 80003