New home site prep costs

My wife and I are at the very beginning stage of planning and building a new home. We're in the "driving around and looking at land" stage. The problem we're having is trying to ballpark the site prep costs. It's obvious that the prep cost for a flat, former corn field will be less than that of a hilly, rocky, heavily wooded site, but how do we figure out roughly what the cost will be. What we'd like to be able to do at this point is look at a piece of property and be able to say "this piece of land costs $x and the site prep will cost between $y and $z on top of that". Any estimating tricks would be appreciated.
Thanks.
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Several factors to keep in mind:
* Location and availability of utility taps * Soil composition * Road availability * Zoning variances (if needed)
What is the availability (and need) of the above in the location you wish to build?
Preparing the site, in the absence of the above, might be a spit-in-the-ocean, all things considered.
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It isn't that easy. There are just way too many variables to do a plug-n-chug estimate. Assuming a corn field has cheaper than a hilly, rocky site is also not accurate. Your corn field could be miles away from the nearest utility or even inaccessible.
Honestly, if you have to ask for tricks, then you really should consider hiring a professional or be prepared to do a lot of homework and legwork.
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2 of my sons prepped about a 1/2 an acre of hilly, rocky, mildly wooded area. Took them about 2 months on weekends only. This was for my homesite on 5 acres of land. Shortly afterwards, I retired from the Navy. Spent another week doing more prep work on the land for the homesite. I rented a tractor one day to pull some stumps as well. Guesstimate local wages, plus contractor fee for all that at minimum. We worked sunup to sundown.
Its going to cost you more for a rock saw to cut for plumbing/underground wiring than just a simple trencher. Takes alot more time to do. Teeth may need replacing along the way. The septic tank and leach field need to be downhill from the house, even if a pump is used. The prevailing wind should not be driving any potential leak stench from that to the house. If the ground has terrible percolation rate, you may need an above ground leach field. They have to bring in all the soil for that. Cost is about double the normal leach field install. Makes a nice putting green.
If the area is hilly and rocky, and you want some kind of lawn, you'll have to do some mods. You may need to build one or more rock walls for retaining soil. And, bring in the soil. 6" depth minimum.
Putting up fence posts on rocky ground ain't no picnic.
Nice thing about hilly areas that are generally rocky, no standing water problems... Dave
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Just what do you mean by site prep? To me, it means cutting the trees and grubbing the stumps which is pretty small potatoes compared to the cost of the whole job. If you mean utilities, a road, basement, etc, then it's going to vary widely as others have pointed out. Where I live, excavation/site prep can go to 50 grand and up for a long driveway, possible bedrock, etc and a difficult site down to 10 grand for prepping a slab on grade on a city lot (both numbers include hooking up to city utilities---well and septic can add even more money). You might try calling a local excavator to find one who will tell you what you are up against.
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site prep can't be that different from one place to another. Just get an estimate for a rocky hilly lot, and know that the others would be less.
steve

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Steve Barker wrote:

,,,
Au contraire, good buddy.... :)
All _can_ change based on location, location, location...
Cross a county line and services may come from a different distribution point, permitting can be completely different, etc., etc., etc., ...
How a site looks on the surface may or may not relate too much to what is underneath in some places...
While there are generalities that may be true, there's much to watch out for, too.
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on 8/9/2007 9:24 AM dpb said the following:

When a friend of mine had his house built on a hilly plot in an established rural neighborhood. They didn't get more than a few feet with the excavator before they hit a shale ledge. Dynamite was the only answer. Can you imagine the restrictions that apply using dynamite in a neighborhood?
--

Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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Didn't know they used dynamite anymore for fracturing rock. Two decades ago, I met a guy who did such things for a living. The stuff he used was relatively silent, but had the same impact.
Don't understand "rural neighborhood". That could mean a plat every 100' or ten miles. Dave
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on 8/10/2007 12:46 AM Dave said the following:

Not a city neighborhood. Minimum size of 1 acre plots with 100' or so front width. His lot was between two equal sized lots with occupied houses. His house was built around 1980.
--

Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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Find the perfect lot that doesn't need any site work before building or one that already has the work done. Then find "your" lot that still needs all of this work done. Subtract the price of "your" lot from the ready lot and now you have a rough idea of the site work cost
kickstart
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on 8/9/2007 6:33 AM Kickstart said the following:

...or no idea of the site work to be done. 1. Location, location, location. 2. Whatever the traffic will bear.
--

Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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On Aug 8, 11:11 am, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Hi Randy,
I understand your confusion about land development costs. Obviously, it varies according to the lot and what utilities etc. would need to be put in before building. Things to consider are: driveway or access to the home from the road, septic or sewer hookup, electrical hookup and the cost of a temporary electrical service for your trades, as well as tree clearing and any grading required for drainage. I might suggest, went to narrow down the lot, the you ask neighbors or neighboring lot owners , if they can give you some insight as to what their costs were. Another valuable resource is excavation contractors , as well as plumbers. These guys are needed before building and will have a wealth of experience and expertise on costs.
Checking with your local building authority is also advised and of course , doesn't cost you anything. There are a few good owner builder sites online that you can search for that have forums you can Post to that assist you as well. Owner builder book web site is a good one , as well as buildandsave.com Another resource are owner builder consulting companies like buildmax. They have construction experts on staff that walk people through the whole building process.
I hope this helps and feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions.
Best regards,
Larry J. Clark , President Allpro Building Systems www.abshomes.com
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On Aug 8, 11:11 am, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Hi Randy,
I understand your confusion about land development costs. Obviously, it varies according to the lot and what utilities etc. would need to be put in before building. Things to consider are: driveway or access to the home from the road, septic or sewer hookup, electrical hookup and the cost of a temporary electrical service for your trades, as well as tree clearing and any grading required for drainage. I might suggest, went to narrow down the lot, the you ask neighbors or neighboring lot owners , if they can give you some insight as to what their costs were. Another valuable resource is excavation contractors , as well as plumbers. These guys are needed before building and will have a wealth of experience and expertise on costs.
Checking with your local building authority is also advised and of course , doesn't cost you anything. There are a few good owner builder sites online that you can search for that have forums you can Post to that assist you as well. Owner builder book web site is a good one , as well as buildandsave.com Another resource are owner builder consulting companies like buildmax. They have construction experts on staff that walk people through the whole building process.
I hope this helps and feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions.
Best regards,
Larry J. Clark , President Allpro Building Systems www.abshomes.com
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On Aug 8, 1:11 pm, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

You said Prep; not back-fill and final grade. I'd estimate a 30 ft drive w/ level access to load and small basement: $2,500 + gravel.
300 ft drive down 46% grade to large double-pour basement for post and beam SIP home: $70,000 + $8,500 for hauling and (in some cases) shooting gravel. That should give you the high and low.
http://home.earthlink.net/~mikefrandson/NewHouseRelease.htm
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On Aug 8, 3:11 pm, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Helo Home builder -- perhaps we can give a limited bit of advice -- anyway its free -- regards snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com of Manderin Project Management International -- Regards -- Patrick
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