Why Does Land Development Take So Long?

Land development is well-known as a challenging venture, even amongst experienced developers. There are multiple challenges that can arise during development which can easily bring the process to a standstill.

However, with proper planning and an experienced team, most of these problems can be successfully resolved. Here are some of the most frequent issues that prolong development, and the methods developers use to overcome them.

Common Difficulties and How to Prepare for Them 

Land development is a lengthy process that can take anywhere from a few months to a few years. There are many typical delays that occur, but with adequate preparation, the impact on your project schedule can be minimized and sometimes altogether avoided.

Zoning and Permitting Delays

Every municipality has its own rules and regulations for obtaining zoning and permit documentation. Finding land that’s already been zoned for your intended purposes is ideal, but this isn’t always possible or practical.

Generally, the developer requires a zoning variance, which can be time-consuming to obtain. Once the land has been properly zoned, the developer will still need to acquire the correct permits. For every type of project, there’s a specific type of permit. Working with local companies can help expedite all this paperwork since very often, they already have a basic idea of the local ordinances.

Topographic Challenges

To get a true sense of the land, you’ll need a qualified geo-engineer to inspect it. A geotechnical report can expose many details about things like the quality of the soil, bedrock properties, and even fault lines, that a casual walk-through inspection could never notice.

The data from these reports has the potential to completely derail a project, so it’s vital to get schedule the report as early as possible to save time and money, and adjust accordingly. Everything from budgets, schedules, and the amount of excavation work that goes into preparing land for construction, is influenced by the geotechnical report.

Industrial Waste, Archeological Finds, and More

Occasionally during inspections, developers discover buried industrial waste and contaminated soil, because companies sometimes use vacant land as a dumping site. More rarely, they even discover archeological finds such a fossils. Sometimes there are even endangered animals living on site which need to be safely relocated.

Whether it’s hazardous chemicals or a nest of endangered birds, safely removing it requires extra time and money, and must follow the procedures set by the local government. 

Access to Utilities

Utilities include things like sewage, water, electric, cable, internet, etc., and location usually determines how easy it is to access them. It’s important to research where all the existing utility lines are located in relation to the project. Additionally, there are local laws and regulations around installation that the developer needs to account for.

For more rural and isolated plots of land, connecting to existing utilities sometimes requires running entirely new lines to the site. It’s recommended to contact local providers to get a start on this as early as possible. Electrical lines are the most important utility to start with, since the construction crews will require electricity on site.

Expect the Unexpected

There are many obstacles in the development process; some expected and some that seem to come out of nowhere. While it’s impossible to be fully prepared for all possible events, there’s still a great deal that can be done to keep development flowing as smoothly as possible.

Gathering all the data early in the process on topics like utilities, soil composition, and local ordinances, makes it far easier to adjust plans before these issues can become major roadblocks.  Aim to work with experienced, and when possible, local crews who have knowledge of the land and the local laws. And most importantly, have a precise plan from the on-set. This ensures that the project will be on the correct path from day one.

If you’re thinking about embarking on a land development project and want to cut through the complexity, talk to APX West. APX West specializes in land development projects for clients looking to expand their personal investment portfolios. We offer consulting services and guidance to clients in the early stages of the land development process, to help them make the absolute most of their investments. Get in touch with us at 928-412-3570.

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