Developing RV sites on raw land

Hi, has anyone developed RV sites on raw land? I was thinking this could be an interesting way to create income from land perhaps as its own business idea or just to pay for holding costs if you had a longer term play vs. a “flip” and wanted to hold a property for a few years and the RV spots could potentially pay for some/all of your holding costs. A lot of people also add these for their own hunting/rec. property as well.

Has anyone developed sites like this from the ground up, assuming you have electric and water available at the property? Costs would be access, the pads (both can be gravel or pads can be concrete), electric posts and wiring underground, water spigots and pipes underground, either a central septic tank “dump station” or a septic system and tie ins for each site. I’ve seen small parks before of like 4-5 sites, so let’s say < 10 sites.

@maxhouseholder I was talking to someone recently who has had some good luck with this. However, they didn’t develop the property into an RV site, it was just just ready to go as-is. It was a flat, vacant parcel with enough room to park an RV, the local code didn’t have any issues with parking an RV on a short-term basis, and it was in an area where RV campers wanted to be.

If you’re using a site like hipcamp (the airbnb for RVers), you’re usually not going to make a ton of money this way, but you can make some smaller trickles of fairly passive income. In other words, if you can get a good deal on a property that is already set up for an RV (without spending a small fortune to develop the property), it could make sense.

Of course, every deal is its own unique thing… there’s probably a time and place where it does make sense to spend some money developing it. I just haven’t encountered that situation yet in the very few conversations I’ve had on the subject.

If you’re able to find a deal where development cost does make sense, be sure to post your experience here! I’m sure we’d all love to hear about it.

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I think @AFlanagan said something about doing these improvements with some of his lots in Texas. Not sure if I’m remembering that right, but I believe it was in his podcast interview with Seth and Jaren? I’ll have to go back and listen.

It would be interesting to figure out what types of RV site improvements would have the biggest impact on value (assuming that’s what every buyer would want to use it for). It seems like a slab would be easy enough to do. I’m sure electricity would also go a long way as well, but would also probably cost a lot more, depending on how nearby the power source is.

Aren’t solar panels getting pretty cheap these days? That might be an easy fix for a person’s electric needs.

@mattpayne Hey Matt, I actually did develop 4 RV sites and sold them. Good memory! Did pretty well on it. Planned on doing it again a couple times but deals fell through.

Majority of people want a turn key product, meaning pull up on a leveled concrete slab (or crushed rock), hook up the utilities and be done with it. Huge market for these turn-key lots.

BUT… I got the land pretty cheap and I did a good portion of the labor. I did the site layouts/design, some land clearing, culverts, trenched for utilities, laid all the utility piping (sewer, water and elec), I did sub-out the concrete, threw some crushed concrete down for the driveway, got a nice old man with a tractor to spread it, etc. One step at a time really. Not too bad. Took me the better part of 6 months because I’m meticulous and had never done it so went slow, researching (maybe too much) every step. But I wanted to learn the permitting and construction process. Now I can fly through that stuff and can see land with better eyes to evaluate.

So if you’re not handy, might want to look into labor costs more. GC it yourself if possible and save lots too.


@aflanagan that turnkey concept makes perfect sense. I’m not even an RVer, but if I was, that would look and sound a lot more appealing than a raw piece of land with ZERO improvements made.

If someone just wanted to do the bare minimum, do you think the concrete slab and crushed rock driveway would be enough to add significant perceived value relative to the cost of doing those things?

I’m not handy at all and I don’t want to mess around with utility piping, so I’m trying to think of which improvements would have the biggest impact. Maybe I could get away with just doing the slab and driveway?

@mattpayne Excuse the late response, but there’s a lot of factors to consider if you want to do just a slab and a driveway, which in my opinion, I don’t suggest, either do it all the way or don’t mess with it. But if you do, here are a few things I learned that should be considered…

If you were to do the slab and crushed rock, you would almost need to have utilities in place as well because otherwise they are just “boondocking” or using the RV as a self-contained RV without any attached utilities and most people aren’t prepared for that rough, extreme self-reliant / self-contained RV life without considerable preparation. That’s for true RVers, not people using it as affordable housing.

The lot needs a good layout. If it’s small, then layout options are limited but if it’s a bigger lot, some people will want to choose the slab location on the lot themselves. But for example, if they have a pull-behind a truck type trailer, the RV slides traditionally open on the driver-side and the RVs man-door is on the passenger side so you want to put the slab slightly more to the right side of the lot (looking from the street) so they have more chill space when they back it in and position it to the far right side to maximize their recreation area.

They want shade, at least in the south. Cutting down trees or not properly planning your site between the big shade trees could impact your vacancy rate. People will legitimately comment on the lack of trees and shade. Remember, this is a form of affordable housing to some and shade helps reduce energy bills quite a bit.

Culvert length is an issue too. When pulling or backing in, a dinky 20’ wide driveway / culvert on a small street gets super annoying to most. The wider the better obviously. You can usually do about 40-50’ before you have to install a clean out/drain thing. Check with county / city.

If you do decide to do concrete, this involves the permitting process since it’s considered a permanent improvement. Permitting comes with its fees and site plans, etc. But if you were to do the driveway and pad just out of crushed rock, you typically don’t need a permit.

The concrete RV pads should be about 6” thick (nominal 2x6” board) with 1/2” rebar 12-16” on-center to support the weight of the bigger ones with their dually trucks, etc. Maybe even a deeper footer at the front edge of the slab for when they are driving on and off of it so it doesn’t break/crack.

Make sure the neighborhood zoning and demographic will support it, as well as utilities.

I’m no expert at this stuff, just a few tips I picked up on my build that I DIY’d.