Tuesday, January 28, 2014

{How much does it cost?} Site Work

Warning: If you are not currently considering building a house, this post is probably going to be a big ol' snoozefest, so you might not want to bother reading any further! But if you are thinking about building on your own lot, I'm hoping this will be helpful. We couldn't find much info on this kind of stuff before we dove into the process, and personally, I would have liked to hear others' experiences!

Financially, the scariest part of the building process was definitely the site work. We knew the cost of the land we were buying. The price of the house was set - we picked out of floor plan and options, and then the price was final. But we did not know the price of the site work - we got an estimate, but it was only an estimate, and we had no idea what sort of surprises might be uncovered along the way. If you read some of my other posts a while back, you might remember that we were actually under contract for another property first - after some initial investigation, there were some concerns and we were told there could be some major issues - possibly $150k in additional costs level issues - but there was no way to tell until they got underway. That scared us away from the first one (luckily that was enough to allow us to back out), but we were definitely nervous about potential issues with site #2.

Now that it's all over, I thought it would be helpful for any other potential home builders out there to share the budget vs. actual comparison for all of our site work - but with a major caveat: your site work costs may not look anything like this. At all.

Every site is different and needs different tasks done. Each builder includes slightly different things (the price of our house included everything in the actual structure including the foundation, but not things like excavation for the foundation or even little stuff like the use of a dumpster or portapot - we had to pay for all of that with out site work costs). Every jurisdiction requires different things (our county is particularly anal). Every area has different prices (our area is particularly expensive). We've been told, for example, that around $75k is typical - so our budget definitely ended up a lot higher than we expected!

Here's the breakdown of all the things that were included in our site work budget, along with the actual cost comparison (ignore all the weird colors from the color coding scheme I was using):

Site WorkBudget Actual Difference
Site Clearing (brush removal, trees, stumps, etc) $12,500$12,500$0
Regular Silt Fence -@ $2.00/lf $1,000$0-$1,000
Super Silt Fence -@ $5.50/lf $1,500$2,068$568
Construction entrance$2,500$2,500$0
Install sewer line$12,000$12,000$0
Install 1" K-Copper Water Line from water crock to house $2,000$2,000$0
Sewer Availability Fees $23,000$7,750-$15,250
Water Availability Fees $13,000$14,400$1,400
Excavate basement (Additional charges will be incurred if exceeds 1 day)$1,500$1,500$0
Backfill House & Rough Grade $950$950$0
Dirt Removal -$200/Load $15,000$8,000-$7,000
Install Two Culvert Pipes as shown on plans $6,000$3,000-$3,000
Clear brush for easement$0$500$500
Final Grade $1,000$1,000$0
Removal of Silt Fence After House is Completed $100$100$0
Rolloff/Dumpster Service ($500/pull)$3,000$2,500-$500
Maintenance of Silt Fence Damaged During Construction $75/Occ+Mat $0N/A
Additional stone if needed later during Construction $500/load $0N/A
Pump Out Basement Water $350/Occ $0N/A
EngineeringBudget Actual Difference
Topographic Survey $1,750$1,750$0
Lot Grading Plan $3,650$3,650$0
Tree Inventory $800$800$0
Geotechnical Investigation $2,500$0-$2,500
Printing, copying, delivery $0$328$328
Sewer easement processing $0$100$100
Flagging of Clearing Limits $500$500$0
House Building Stakeout $500$500$0
Sewer Easement Stakeout $0$300$300
Wall Check $500$500$0
Final House Location $500$500
Building Height Certification $500$0
OtherBudget Actual Difference
County permit/site review fees$2,000$2,000$0
Seed lawn$1,596
Portable Toilette -Vendor will bill owner directly ($85/month)$1,080$595-$485
TotalBudget Actual Difference
GRAND TOTAL$125,250$95,617-$29,633

Luckily (ok, that's an understatement - more like hallelujah! hooray! wippee! woohoo!!!),  we ended up under budget. About 30k under budget!! I always here people say that with big projects like this, you pretty much always end up over budget - so here's proof that doesn't always have to happen. A large piece of this was that we had anticipated paying an extra $15k fee to the county for the sewer connection, but it turned out that it had been paid by a developer decades ago so we were off the hook. There were only a handful of items where we went over - the largest of which was hardscaping/landscaping, and that part was actually under our control. Since we made those decisions at the end, we knew we were under budget and had some extra wiggle room - the biggest cost increase there was deciding to get a stone walkway and covering our concrete front stoop in stone too.

So there ya have it. We were very happy with how everything turned out! And don't worry, I don't have any more posts planned for the future that involve posting spreadsheets!


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  2. We want to build a house so I actually love it. Thanks for the info!

  3. Very helpful. We just finished our site work and you are very correct in that there can be a lot of variation. In our case, we spent $3,000 to have about 60 trees cut and hauled away, which we thought was a really good deal. The real money went for stump removal, hauling in dirt and grading. Glad you mentioned the construction entrance, which is something most people wouldn't think about. Most town's want to see that and the silt fencing, which all get pricey, especially on a large piece of property. Great Job! - Don


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