This page may be printed out and used to help you with your planning

Developing Your Land

     When developing land, someone needs to be responsible for making sure that all improvements are made to code and on schedule. Most people hire a general contractor to coordinate this effort. In fact, some lenders require that the job be done by someone on a list of approved contractors. In other cases, a manufactured home dealer may act as the general contractor for a land package. And, in some instances, the buyers elect to manage the project themselves. Regardless of the path you take, it is important for you to understand the development process.
     Site preparation involves three basic steps: evaluating the property, obtaining the necessary permits, and making the physical improvements.

Evaluate the property...

     Consider the physical layout of your property, such as whether it is sloping or level, well-drained or wet. Then, decide where to locate the house, the driveway and the utility lines. If the site does not have access to a community water or sewer system, determine where to place the well, septic tank and drain field. Seek advice from a licensed contractor in evaluating the land and planning improvements. Most manufactured home dealers can recommend several contractors with experience in developing sites for manufactured houses, and some dealers will even serve as a liaison between you and the contractor. You also can get the names of registered contractors by calling the toll-free Contractor Registration Information Line at (800) 647-0982. Professional guidance and careful planning is especially advised if you are placing a house on property where a well and/or septic tank is needed. These two additions affect site preparation costs more than any other improvements.

Obtain the permits...

     If a septic tank is required, a licensed septic design contractor must be hired to do a land percolation test, develop a septic design and obtain approval for the design from the local health department. Once the site and design of the septic tank have been determined, the locations for other components of the residence can be designed and an application for a building permit can be filed with either the city or county government. Building permits are required for all manufactured houses and any add-on construction to the home or property, such as a driveway, garage, or deck. Contact your city or county building and construction safety inspection service for more information and for the specific requirements in your area. After the site evaluation and permit applications have been completed, request forms can be submitted to the utility companies for electricity and phone service, and, if available, water and sewer service.

Make the improvements...

     Once the building permit application has been approved, initial physical preparations can be made. Work such as constructing the septic system, drilling the well, leveling the land, building the footings, and digging utility line trenches can all be handled by your contractor.
     After the footings and other land improvements are complete, the home can be assembled. Usually, the installation of the house is handled by the dealer and is included in the cost of the home. With the house in place, the utility companies can be contracted again - this time to install the necessary equipment.

Plan ahead to reduce costs...

     Site preparation costs vary from a low of $6000 to over $20,000, depending on the geographic area, the requirements of a given jurisdiction and whether or not a well and/or a septic system is needed. Early site planning, however, can significantly reduce costs, both in terms of time and money. Use the development worksheet on page 11 to help you budget.


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