Over 8 million Americans live in gated communities. Their emphasis on luxury, convenience and safety appeals to homeowners trying to navigate the upheavals of modern life. Building a gated community can be a long, complex process, beginning with a development concept and ending with a marketing campaign after building is complete.
Identify the market segment for your gated community. Will you be catering to upper-income families or middle-income families? Will your gated community contain mostly primary residences or vacation homes?
Buy a large amount of land. Be sure this land fits the needs of your market segment. A gated community for commuters should be built near a major interstate, and ideally not far from a major downtown area or office park. A gated community for vacations should be located near a beach, ski mountain or other centerpiece attraction.
Create a plan outlining how the land will be developed. This plan should include information about the kinds of homes that will be built on the property, the water and electrical infrastructures that will feed the property and the environmental and social impacts of the development. Many residential developers create computer renderings of their completed communities as part of these plans.
Obtain building permits from your local development authority. Depending on your area, these permits may be more or less difficult to obtain. (See "Warnings" for further details.)
Build roads, electrical lines and water pipes in the main residential areas. This infrastructure will make it easy for prospective residents to imagine what the completed community will look like if they come by the construction site for a visit.
Build the focal point of the community, such as a club house, golf course or shopping center. Like a completed street plan, this focal point will allow prospective residents to imagine the completed community.
Build homes. In most gated communities, home construction happens in one of two ways: "on spec," which means that construction is completed before the home is put on the market, or "custom," which means the home is built at the request of its future owner. Custom building allows more choice for home owners, but these homes tend to cost more than homes built on spec.
Establish what makes your community "gated." According to Realtor Magazine, gated communities can be protected by natural features, key card access or private security forces. The sooner these distinctions are established, the easier it will be to market your community.
Market your gated community. This can be done in several ways: encourage existing homebuyers to talk with friends about the community; place advertisements in a local newspaper; hold open-houses that highlight the community's amenities for potential buyers.
Divest from your gated community. After the initial sales period, most developers cease being active in the gated community they have built.
Many of the steps in this article overlap and do not have to be completed in exactly the order listed here. Developers may begin marketing a community before construction is complete, for example, or may wish to obtain building permits before they have finalized land sales.
Obtaining building permits can be difficult. Communities may have open space or historical preservation laws that prevent certain kinds of construction. Some developers see obtaining building permits as a kind of negotiation process, proposing a larger development than they would ultimately like to build with the knowledge that these initial ambitions will likely be whittled down by local commissions.