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What does it cost to build a house on undeveloped land?

Answered by Brett Kulina ~ October 3, 2012 ~ No Comments » | Respond to this question

I am considering building a home in canton Georgia. 1500 square foot or so not high end not low end but say the upper end if middle of the road. The property I am looking at has only a barn but there is underground electrical service to it. No water. The likely building site is several hundred feet from the public road. I'm struggling with getting a solid handle on what it would really cost to essentially build this home with all the stuff that makes a house livable: gas, water, phone, septic etc. It would be no good to have a great piece of land and a half finished house because building cost went over budget. Thoughts?

Brett Kulina

Jumping right into a home construction project without first knowing all of the associated development costs can be financially disastrous. Realistic budgets need to be defined long before any dirt starts moving, and in some cases these costs need to be fully realized before you even purchase the building lot.

Aside from the construction costs of the actual house, you will need to determine the costs of installing the needed utilities, constructing a vehicle access from the road to the building site, and completing all of the necessary permitting and paperwork. First you should determine what type of utilities are available for your particular piece of property. For example, will you connect the home to a municipal water and sewer system or will you need to drill a private well and construct an individual septic system? Is there natural gas available, or will you need an underground propane tank? Will the power lines be overhead or underground, and what data options are available in the local area (Cable TV, DSL, phone)? Once you know exactly what type of utilities you need, then you can gather some detailed cost estimates for their installation.

Next you should determine how much it will cost to construct the access road and prep the building site. Factors such as tree removal, rock blasting, and the importing of fill dirt can drastically increase the cost of a project's earthwork, so be sure to gather several bids from excavating companies that have thoroughly inspected the site and have experience working in your local area. Make sure to include the costs for any sidewalks, retaining walls, or other site specific needs.

Other associated costs of building a new house can be permitting, hook-up fees, neighborhood assessments or tax SID's (special improvement districts). Research these potential costs carefully so that you can avoid any unforeseen expenses later on down the road. Once you have a clear picture of all of the other costs associated with developing a building site, then you can start to cost out the actual home construction and put together a total project budget. Keep in mind that your thorough and careful work at this stage of the game can really make or break the overall experience of building a new house on an undeveloped lot. Good luck!

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