Key Planning for Land Development

Before diving into your big land adventure, here are the top 5 investments I found crucial to consider before buying land to develop. These only apply if you’re planning to build someday.

1. ** Permit Applications **

One thing I didn’t initially consider was the cost of permits and zoning applications. Different areas have different regulations about what you can build and how you can use your land. For example, my land needed to be rezoned from agricultural to residential use, which required an application fee. Additionally, if you plan to build, you’ll need construction permits. These costs added up to several hundred dollars for me, around $500 to $1,500 depending on the complexity and location.

2. ** Utility Installation Costs **

Another significant expense I encountered was installing utilities like water, electricity, and sewage. If the land is in a remote area, bringing in public utilities can be very costly. For my land, which was somewhat off the grid, I was quoted for water well drilling ($50,000 estimated) and septic system installation ($20,000 estimated).

In some cases, connecting to existing municipal utilities might be cheaper ($500-$5000) and highly depends on the distance from your land to the nearest connection point. Most utility companies will help with ballpark quotes if you’re nice and talk to the right person, usually a manager. TLDR: The closer your land is to civilization, the cheaper it will be to plug into the grid/public utilities.

3. ** Land Cost **

The first and most obvious investment is land itself, but it’s not listed as #1 for a reason. When I was searching for my 1st piece of land, I quickly realized prices can vary widely based on location, size, and usability. For instance, land in the city or near popular areas is generally more expensive than land in rural locations and they’re closer to public utilities. See above. It’s essential to budget not just for the purchase price but also for any associated fees like closing costs. Consider your cash budget. Owner Financing can open up better land options.

4. ** Survey **

Before buying my land, I needed to know exactly what I was getting. That’s where survey fees come in. A land surveyor can physically mark the boundaries of the property and file the paperwork with the County Recorders office. This is crucial to avoid disputes with neighbors later, especially if you install a fence! The survey is equally important as it checks the land for potential issues, such as environmental hazards or legal access. I paid around $3,000 to $4,000 for these services, but prices can vary based on who you talk to and their level of service.

5. ** Fencing **

Securing the land with fencing is another important investment to consider, especially if you plan to use it for agriculture or have privacy concerns. It helps mark the boundaries and keeps unwanted visitors or animals out. Depending on the size of your property and the type of fence you choose, this can range from $2,000 to $15,000. I opted for a sturdy wooden fence, which cost me about $5,000 for my three-acre property.

In conclusion, becoming a landowner with plans to develop is a fantastic journey, but it’s crucial to plan for the whole picture. By understanding and preparing for each investment, you can make a more informed decision and avoid financial surprises. I found it easier to consider one step at a time.


Happy land hunting!

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