This is part 2 of my series on constructing an RV park. If you haven’t already, read my guide on how to build your own RV park.
The costs of building your own campground
The cost of building your own campground has many variables, but one should expect your site costs to range anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000 per site depending upon the amenities you plan to install. For example, a 16’ x 40’ x 6” concrete pad would cost $6 a square foot for a total cost of $3,840. Of course, this size pad is extremely wide, and you could cut the cost of it significantly by reducing the width of the pad to 8’ feet. This would reduce its cost to $1,920, so as you can see there are always ways to cut your costs.
Supplying your sites with electrical outlets can be another challenge but one that should seriously be considered. Unless you are a trained electrician, I would hire a professional to do this task. In fact, many states require this, and you should consult your state guidelines before you attempt this task on your own.
I would recommend installing 50-amp, 30-amp, 15-amp and a 110/120-volt outlets in each of your campsites. By doing this you can accommodate any rig or camper regardless of whether the are tent campers, pop-up campers or those that stay in larger RVs such as class A motorhomes to high end trailers such as 5th wheels.
You should expect this cost to be approximately $2,000 to $2,500 per site if you offer each outlet I noted above. However, you can trim this cost by dedicating sites that only supply a certain amperage such as 50-amp or 30-amp to the site. These can be dedicated to RVers with larger rigs and then you can dedicate a row of sites with lesser amperage for those with smaller RVs. By doing this, you can also create pads suitable for smaller RVs which will further save you money on the concrete costs.
While you have several options when installing electrical access, one thing you should consider is installing meters on several of your sites…especially if you plan on renting some of your sites seasonally, monthly or on a weekly basis. Air conditioning during the summer months as well as electrical heating during the colder climates can be costly. Do yourself a favor, install meters on sites you have dedicated to serve as longer stays and charge the guest for their electrical usage, in the long run it will save you a good deal of money.
Water is another issue you’ll need to tackle. If you’re in a remote location away from city water, then you’ll need to drill a well and that can cost anywhere from $15 to $30 per foot. The national average cost to install a well is $5,500, but the real cost lies with how deep you need to drill. Installing water lines to your site is relatively easy and you can keep the cost minimal by doing it yourself. However, if you plan to hire someone to do this for you, you can expect that cost to be in the neighborhood of $20 to $25 per foot of piping laid, which will cover the trenching, labor cost and the hardware needed to supply your campground with water.
Septic system or sewage removal
Unless you have access to a city sewage disposal system, I wouldn’t recommend installing a per site sewer system because they can be extremely costly. Depending on the size of your park, it’s likely you’ll need more that one septic tank and drains fields as well. Generally, a single septic tank will cost approximately $3,500 and you should expect a drain field to cost the same. This means that if you need four tanks and drain fields your costs for those would be $28,000 and this does not include labor or the appropriate piping. With those costs, you could easily surpass $40,000.
My advice in this case would be to forgo installing a site by site sewer system and instead install a dump station, that people can use periodically or as they’re leaving your facility. This will cut your costs of sewage by %75.
I would also suggest that next to your dump station that you install public restrooms with showers. These relatively cheaply but you should expect that cost to be around $20,000,
Other things to consider are asphalt driveways which will cost you $7 to $13 per square foot, although this cost fluctuates as per the cost of crude oil. Are you planning on having a camp store? This facility can easily cost another $100,000 depending upon its size. A swimming can add another cost of $75,000.
You also remember that there will likely be landscaping costs, garbage removal, legal fees and of course insurance. Also remember that some of these costs never go away. Insurance, garbage removal and lawn mowing as well as staff costs will always play a part in your campground so you should plan accordingly.
As you can see, the cost of building a campground can take quite a bit of money and I personally would avoid this undertaking. Instead, I would look for a campground that has already been built and established. It’s likely, that the cost of buying an existing facility would be far less than building one from scratch. Furthermore, in the last few decades environmental agencies have may it increasingly more difficult to build a campground and it’s likely that some of the amenities in an established campground would be “grandfathered in” and would need to be brought up to current environmental and building codes unless you choose to replace them.
Thanks for reading folks, I hope this gives you an idea of what some of the costs will be when opening a new campground. Whatever you choose to do, just remember that good customer service and a clean facility is the way to attract your guest. Happy camping folks and I hope to see you out on the road someday.