New construction is easy to spot in West Texas, as there are new homes and commercial buildings being built daily. What many do not see is the behind-the-scenes process just to begin construction. On average it takes Betenbough Homes 18 months to get city approval before starting construction on the first home in a brand new community. So how does a builder get approval to build a new community? We often get questions about what this process is like and, although the process varies some from city to city, here is a general overview:
1. The first step is to purchase land. Prior to the purchase we acquire a title commitment. This ensures there is nothing in or around that land that would keep us from being able to build on it.
2. Next, the land has to be annexed into the city limits. Petitioning for annexation takes several months and goes through two council readings. The council must publicly read it twice, then vote on the annexation. It then goes to the federal government for approval. (If a developer petitions for voluntary annexation, they have to pay for the extension of city services. But if the city involuntarily annexes land, they must install city services at the taxpayers’ expense.)
3. The land must then be zoned for residential use. This requires two more council readings and a couple more months.
4. Preliminary platting is the next step. This includes getting approval of the design and layout of streets from the city. It takes another three months to get a preliminary plat approved.
5. Once approved, we move on to engineering, which involves presenting the first phase (typically a few streets) we’ll be constructing to the city so they can review it. Civil engineers design the phase and during the review process, the city will make changes as they see fit. This step takes about three months.
6. When the city approves the phase, construction of streets begins. This is also when electricity, water and sewer systems are put in. As a developer, we incur these costs. This step takes approximately six months.
7. The final plat is received after improvements are complete and accepted by the city.
8. Finally, we can begin to sell individual lots and start construction on the first home(s) in that community!