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Site Costs | What Does it Cost to Build a Custom Home?

Site Costs for a Custom Home

I’m Brian Freeman with Freeman’s Construction. Hey, today we’re gonna go through video number four of our Custom Home Building Cost Guide series. We’re gonna be covering site costs.

Average Site Costs

So what does it cost to take a raw piece of land and get it ready to build a custom home on it? So, the average cost in San Diego County area, they’re falling, anywhere from $75,000 to $150,000, okay? They can be less, but they can absolutely be way more than that depending on what is required to get the site approved. So, we’re gonna go through, break those costs down as to what those are now.

Step 1: Grading

So first thing is would be your grading. So, we’re gonna have to go in and actually build a pad for a building site for the home. We’re also gonna need to clear the brush in that area and get a driveway cut into that pad. So to do that, a good number to plug in, just for ballpark numbers would be maybe a $10 to $20,000 number. That’s gonna get you in the ballpark area. It could be way more than that. If you’ve got a long driveway. We’ve got blasting, rock, I mean, it could go crazy, but that’ll help you out as far as gettin’ close.

Second Scenario

Now the other scenario would be if you wanted to buy a lot, or you have a lot that had a home on it prior, maybe that burned in the Cedar or Ridge fires, and you have a pad that was existing for a home that was there, you may only have to go in there and over-excavate and re-compact that pad. And that would only cost maybe $5 to $7,000 depending on the size, so you could have a significant savings there. Plus the driveway, there’s a good chance that the driveway is still in decent condition and you can use that driveway. So, that’s the grading cost that you’ll incur. Something about $10 to $20,000 if you plug in for that.

Soil Compaction Testing

The other cost that happens during the time of the grading is we have a soils engineer that is required to take compaction tests. So those compaction tests, those are given to the County of San Diego at the foundation inspection which allows them to sign off on the foundation that there has been adequate compaction to the soil from the grader that did the work. So that’s gonna be about a $2 to $3,000 range, as far as a soils compaction report. And that can be more depending on the size if it’s a large custom home.

Best Management Practices (BMP's)

And then the other expense that you’ll have during that time and throughout the remainder of the project is somewhere between a $1,000 to $3,000, and that’s gonna be your stormwater management. It’s what we call our BMPs or Best Management Practices. And that’s gonna be for straw waddles that you would set up on a parameter or a silt fence, or it could be for sandbags that are gonna go in. So, to control water erosion and the dirt from getting off the property. So the dirt erosion from the water on the lot. So, that’s gonna be about a $1,000 to $3,000 range.

Driveway Costs

And then the other expense that you’ll have is the driveway expense. So the most fire departments within the County of San Diego area are requiring now that you have an asphalt or concrete driveway from your property line to the home. And there’s, you can actually, there’s limitations on how much driveway you can actually put in based on the impervious surface now because of the California law. So that’s something we have to work around, but the driveway itself for the fire department has to be 16 feet wide and you also have to have a turnaround. So if we go, say we have a 100 foot driveway, 16 feet wide, you’d multiply the lineal footage of the driveway, the length of the driveway, by the square footage to get that number and then you’re gonna multiply that for asphalt by $3.25 to $3.50 a square foot. And that’ll getcha in the ballpark as to what you would spend to actually pave the driveway. If you’re gonna do concrete you’ll probably be in the range of five and a quarter or five and a half dollars a square foot to concrete that driveway. So, those are your driveway expenses.

Drilling for a Water Well

Now the other, the other costs that you will have, if you are not near city water, or you’re not, you don’t have a water meter and you don’t have a city hydrant, water hydrant for fire purposes, you’re gonna have to drill a water well and you’re gonna have to provide a water storage tank for fire suppression. So those costs are gonna be anywhere from $25 to $35,000, and what that’s gonna give you is you’re gonna drill the well that’s gonna give you a submersible pump in the well. Then you’re gonna get a 10,000 gallon water storage tank, plus booster pump, plus pressure tanks, and that’ll allow the home to be supplied with pressurized water and have a four inch hydrant that’s gonna be sufficient for the fire department. So, you’re gonna spend, we already mentioned that, but $25 to $35,00, but if you are in an area that has very deep wells like the water table’s really low, you can potentially go way higher than that depending on how deep that well has to go. So, one of the things we would highly recommend on the front end is getting a reputable well driller that’s very familiar with that area out and talk to them and figure out what they would anticipate how deep they’re gonna have to go with that well. That way you can budget properly for the well expenses that you’re about to have.

Septic System for a Custom Home

Okay, so that’s well, the other thing that you would need to do if you’re not on city sewer connection is you’re gonna have to put a septic system in. Now the septic system is based, the size of that system is based off of two different components, the bedroom size and the percolation, or the amount of bedrooms and the perc rate for that property. So if, what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna go to the County and we’re gonna look and say, “Hey, what’s the perc rate on this lot?” They may have it, they may not. If they don’t, we’ll look at the surrounding lots and see if they have those. And a lot of times they’ll let you take the worst case scenario of the perc rate on the surrounding lots so you don’t have to run another perc rate for your property. And that can save you $3,500 or more if you can do it that way. But the actual install on a standard septic system would be somewhere in the $10 to $15,000 range, depending on the size of the home, the amount of bedrooms, and the actual perc rate.

Scenario #2 for Septic System

So now, the other scenario is you could get into a property that has a high ground water problem where the standard septic system won’t work and you have to put in an alternative septic system. Those can run anywhere from 20, 30, $40,000. So it could be a very extensive expense to you and that’s gotta get looked at on the front end as well. So we’re working with the Department of Environmental Health with the County and we’re gonna try to figure all of that out right on the front end so we know what we’re up against as far as the septic goes.

Utilities for a Custom Home

Okay, so the remaining items are electrical from SDG&E. What’s that gonna cost to get to the site? That can vary a huge amount, okay? We really don’t know and that we gotta look and see if we’ve got a transformer on the existing poles. We gotta come underground, we go in overhead. Do we have to set more poles in order to get power even to the property? So, we gotta look at that. The other thing we gotta look and see if we need to get easements, make sure we’ve got the right easements in place to get the power to the site. So, then your propane, propane you can dig underground. You only have to be 10 feet from the house. You can go farther if you’d like, as long as the lines are the right size. And then you’re also gonna need to look at the water, from wherever your water storage tank is set, you gotta trench all the way underground to get over to the house, and then also the four inch hydrant line has to be within no closer than 50 feet to the house, and no farther than 150 feet away. So, we’re gonna look at the cost with what the distances are and how far we gotta trench for electrical, how far we gotta trench for our water, how far are we gonna trench for our propane. And we’re gonna look at those and we’re gonna put through a number together based on that at the underground utility line add-up. Plug in $10,000, but you could on some sites, you could spend less than that, but most of the time you’re spending that or more on your, on those particular site costs. So your electrical, your propane, and your water line.

Actual Driveway Costs for your Custom Home

So okay, so the… We covered grading. We covered the soils cost, soils engineering cost. We covered BMPs. Then we covered the actual cost to do pavement or concrete on your driveway. Then we covered well costs and your storage tank. And then we covered septic. And then we have our electrical, our water line, and our propane, so we got all of those. Now one thing that is required since January 1st, 2020 is for any new custom home that you build, you have to put in a new solar system. Now that’s gonna be an additional $15 to $20,000 that you’ll need to budget for as an expense. That system can either be a ground-mounted or it can be a roof-mounted system. It just really depends on what your lot allows you to do, and what the space is that you have to do it. So, that is definitely an expense in addition to the site costs that we’ve already talked about. You’re gonna wanna make sure you put that in the budget, okay?

Next Video: Build Costs 

So that’s site costs and next week we are gonna be covering the build costs. So in the build costs video, we are gonna go through what’s the average price per square foot to build the living area of the home? What is the average price per square foot to build the garage area of the home? And what is the average cost per square foot for the covered porch areas? So when we understand those, we can take, and we can figure out very close as to what that home’s actually gonna cost to build in addition to our plans and permits, fees, land, and all the site costs. So we put all those together, by the end of the next video you’ll be able to take and figure out very close as to what your home, the entire package, will take to get that project completed. So, okay, well thank you so much for watching. Please subscribe to our channel. We will look forward to seeing you in video number five to talk about build costs next week.

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