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10 Common Costs of a Land Development Project

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With regard to overall expenses, there is more to land development than just the actual construction. The total costs of a new project can add up quickly. Knowing some of the more common costs can help you with planning your project and reducing the chance of not having enough of a budget to pay for everything.

The following are ten common costs involved with the construction of a land development project.

1) Surveying
2) Civil engineering design
3) Civil engineering review
4) Application fees
5) Permit fees
6) Inspections
7) Wetlands delineation
8) Environmental studies
9) Floodplain studies
10) Construction

1. Surveying

Surveying is something that will most likely be required at different phases throughout a project. The design of a land development project will require an existing conditions plan that is based on a professional survey.

Survey may be required during construction to stake out the locations of proposed building corners and construction limits.

Surveying services may also be needed at the end of construction to develop as-built plans that may be required by the municipality to ensure that the project was built accordingly to the approved design.

Depending on the size of the project, the total costs of surveying could easily end up being in the thousands of dollars.

Related: The Land Surveying Process (In 8 Steps)

Related: 8 Common Terms Used in Land Surveying

2. Civil Engineering Design

Before anything can be built, there has to be a civil engineering design that results in a set of land development plans. These plans are what construction contractors use to build a project.

The time spent by a civil engineer in the design phase of a project could involve doing engineering calculations, creating plan sheets using computer-aided drafting software, visiting the site to be developed, and attending meetings.

Depending of the size of the proposed project and the complexity of the topography of your site, the total costs of a civil engineering design could range anywhere from a couple thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.


3. Civil Engineering Review

In order for a civil engineering design to be considered acceptable for construction by a municipality, it has to be reviewed and approved by a reviewer. This person is usually a civil engineering consultant that is hired by the municipality who will review proposed land development plans for compliance with various regulations.

The municipality and the hired reviewer will want to be paid for the time spent in reviewing your plans.

Related: Land Development Regulations (A Simple Guide)

4. Application Fees

Application fees are the administrative fees involved with the processing of your plans for review. These fees do not usually cost that much but they are still something to be aware of and that you should consider accounting for in the preparation of your project budget.

5. Permit Fees

There are many potential permits that you and your civil engineer would have to determine could be required for your project depending on the topography of your site and the proposed layout of your project. In addition to applying for and being approved for a permit, you would also most likely have to pay a fee to actually obtain the permit.

Some common permits you may have to obtain include grading permit, stormwater management permit, highway occupancy permit, and stream crossing permit.

6. Inspections

A condition of approval of your project might be site inspections for the construction of certain parts of your land development plan.

If a department of transportation inspector is required to inspect the construction of a new roadway entrance connecting your project to a state road, you would probably be charged a fee to pay this inspection.

As another example, your design engineer might be required to inspect the installation of a proposed stormwater management system. In this case, you would have to pay for the hours involved for the travel time and for the actual inspection of the engineer.

Related: What Is Construction Inspection in Land Development?

7. Wetlands Delineation

If it is obvious that you have wetlands on your property or if you suspect that wetlands exist on your property, you will most likely be required by a reviewing agency to have the limits of this area delineated and shown on your plans. This would be especially be the case if your proposed construction could potentially impact the existing wetlands.

A wetlands delineation is something that requires the services of someone such as an environmental scientist. This kind of service could require time that is charged for travel time, field work, and the preparation of a report. The total cost will depend on the amount of wetlands area that exist on your site to be delineated.

Related: What Are Wetlands?

8. Environmental Studies

During the design phase of your project, someone might discover that your site could be a potential habitat for an endangered species. If this is the case, you might have to hire someone such as an environmental scientist to do a field study to verify the existence of the species in question. The cost to you could be for travel time, field work, and the preparation of forms and reports.


9. Floodplain Studies

Your project might require a floodplain study to determine a floodplain boundary and how your proposed construction could affect it.

A floodplain study can be expensive because of the engineering calculations and the complicated computer modeling that are involved. A study might even require extra surveying so that the engineer can have enough site information for the analysis.

A study like this could easily cost you near $10,000 or more in engineering costs.

10. Construction

Probably the most obvious cost of land development is the cost of the actual construction itself. This total cost would include the costs of the site construction as well as the construction of proposed buildings.

Plan for as Many Costs as You Can

There are many costs involved with a proposed land development project. Being familiar with as many of them as you can now will help to ensure you create a budget that is large enough for you to get your project approved and built.

Related: 6 Places Where to Find Civil Engineers

Related: Recommendations for Land Development Books

Posted in Engineering

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