How Much Land Do I Need For a Build?

Open dirt field with bright blue sky and fluffy clouds

Before we can construct any steel building, we need a place to put it. Making sure that the land your steel building sits on is large enough to fit your needs is a critical first step to your project. The size of the building itself will play a big part, of course – if you are building a school you’ll probably need more space than if you’re building a restaurant, for example. But besides that, how exactly do you determine how much land you’ll need?

First Thing to Consider – How Will You Be Using the Building?

What is the purpose of your building? Is it a garage on a residential lot? Is it a commercial building? Is it a farming building or a warehouse? Each type of building comes with its own considerations. Do you need a lot of parking? Do you need multiple access points? Do you need usable yard or outdoor space? The answers to these types of questions will impact the amount of land you’ll need.

Calculate the Land to Building Ratio

Once you know how the building will be used and the kinds of considerations that go along with your building type, you’ll want to calculate the land to building ratio for the land on which you are looking to build. This is a more accurate measurement of land use than simply calculating how many square feet there are in an acre, for example.

The land to building ratio is simply the percentage or ratio of the size of the building to the land. When the ratio is high the land isn’t being used to its fullest potential and depending on your proposed use this could mean you’ll have a lot of empty space. On the flip side, if the ratio is low, you may find yourself at full capacity on the land and could potentially end up in a tight squeeze or be limited with any future expansions.

To arrive at the land to building ratio, divide the square footage of the land parcel by the square footage of the building. For example: 188,000 square feet of land divided by 43,500 square feet of building = 4.32, which makes it a 4.32:1 land to building ratio. This is considered to be on the high side.

This calculation is much more prevalent in commercial or industrial use than residential due to various building codes and commercial considerations.

Check the Zoning and the Condition of the Property

When you do find what appears to be the perfect land for your project, you’ll want to ensure the zoning requirements comply with your intended use. Zoning requirements are different than building codes. For steel buildings and all other kinds of buildings, the three top zoning types are typically residential, commercial, and industrial. Those are then divided into sub-levels that include measurements like height restrictions and density. If you’re looking to construct more than one building on your land, you’ll need to be sure the zoning ordinance allows for multiple buildings or structures. Zoning can also regulate the placement of things such as driveways, parking lots, fences, signs, and more so you’ll want to be sure your plans account for all the details.

The condition of the property can also come into play when looking at land size. Are you adding on to an existing building? Will you be removing a building? Does the land have utilities? If you need to add a sewer system, for example, you’ll need to plan for enough space to accommodate that along with your building. And of course, don’t forget to acquire the proper metal building permits for your build.

Consider Property Lines and Setbacks

Lastly, when calculating how much land you’ll need, don’t forget to consider property lines and setbacks. You may not have as much space as it first appears.

Property Lines

Take a look at how close your neighbors are or how close they could build to your property. If privacy or noise is a concern, you’ll want to make sure there is ample space between your building and the neighbors


In many areas the city or county is allowed up to 10 feet of your land in the event they need to widen the road or do any sort of utility work, so you’ll need to build at least 25 feet from the road. At Bunger Steel, we can help answer any questions you might have about land size needs whether your steel building project is a smaller residential build or a large commercial or industrial initiative. Ready to get started? Get a quote for your steel building project now.

Get a Quote

Thank you for your interest in Bunger Steel. Our staff is available to help answer your questions and guide you on the steps needed to proceed with a steel project. Complete the form with the required information to receive a free estimate from a sales representative.

To speak with a sales representative, call 1-800-3-BUNGER or email

  • See Popular Sizes
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.