Can I afford to build a new home?
Your newly built home on the land of your dreams is getting closer to reality! You’ve decided what town you’d like to live in and you’ve been perusing the listings. You’ve made contact with your buyer agent (in Kalispell hopefully that’s me!) and you are in your four-wheel drive on your way to look at properties. While you are walking the land, make sure you are aware of the costs that might take a specific parcel out of the running.
You can build a home just about anywhere. A steep mountainside? Sure! Bedrock at the surface? Yes! A windy mountaintop? Ditto! A mile from the road? That’s doable also. Sandy soil? Sure!
That being said, the more difficult a parcel is to build on, the more it will cost. For most buyers, the money to do those things might not be available. If you will have a limited budget for site work, make sure you’re assessing the following before deciding on a parcel to purchase.
If your home will require a private well, you will need to estimate the cost for drilling the well and purchasing/installing a well pump.
In our area, after a home owner drills a well, the well log is supposed to be filed with the county. Those documents provide records that are useful when estimating how deep your well might be. Specifically, obtaining copies of the neighbor’s well logs will help in that effort. You also might consider contacting an experienced well driller to get estimates of well depths in that specific area.
As of September 2020, estimated costs to drill a well in the Flathead Valley can range from $44 to $50 per foot. Obviously, the shallower the well the less expensive. A pressure tank and pump system to get the water up to the house is also needed. That can range from $3K – $6K, depending upon size and features.
If you won’t be using community sewer and need to install your own septic system, costs will be dependent upon what kind of system you put in place. There are various options that may be dependent upon the soil, terrain, and building location, as well as your health department requirements. Most systems will include a septic tank, perhaps a pump, and drain fields. There could be distribution boxes, manifolds or other components as well. In order to install a septic system, you also might need to have a budget for permitting, perc testing, soil testing and the like. Currently, costs in the Flathead Valley are somewhere around $8,500-$9,000 for a standard system for a four bedroom home, and perhaps $7,000-$8,500 for a three bedroom. It’s important to include this estimate when deciding whether a specific parcel will work for your dream home.
And then there is the electric! The first thing to investigate is the location of the nearest electric company box. Is it right at the edge of your property? If so, you’ll be responsible to pay to get electric from that point to your building site. If the power is further away, you might need to get it to your land first, and then to your building site.
At a minimum, in addition to any permit fees required in your area, you will need to estimate trenching costs to go from the access point to your building site. In addition to whatever it will cost to dig a trench, if your services will be underground, you will need costs from the the electric company to install the cable from road to house, and then to provide service at the home site.
Your electric company should be able to provide an estimate and additional information.
Selecting a specific house site can make a big difference to the costs of a driveway or access road. Not only will you need to pay to have the road site cleared of trees or brush, you will most likely need equipment to level and smooth the road. You’ll need to make sure there are trenches placed along the road for runoff of rain and snow melt. And then you’ll need to ensure there is sufficient gravel and/or pavement in place. A recent Internet search indicates the average cost to install a gravel driveway could be $1.25 to $3.00 per foot. If you are choosing a building site that will require a 1/4 mile long driveway that is 12 feet wide, you’d be looking to spend anywhere from $19,800 to $47,520 (if those Internet figures are correct).
If you are buying land and then hiring a builder to build a home, these are just a few of the costs you might need to cover. Often, the site work costs are not part of the builder costs. In theory, building anywhere is possible. But the costs to do so might mean a particular dream home would be better on a different property, or on a different part of the property.
If you need help purchasing land in the Kalispell, Bigfork or Lakeside Montana areas, call me at 406-270-3667. I would love to walk the land with you. I’ll also remind you of these considerations!!
For more information on purchasing land, check out this link.