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Be prepared to face opposition, generally speaking people don't like towers.

Tower selection:
Select a tower suitable for your proposed current needs, and also to accommodate upcoming desires. Perhaps in the future you will want to either add more equipment to your existing tower or rent space out to someone else. If your tower isn't capable to handling the increased load capacity you may be forced to erect a new tower and start this process over again. When calculating how much square feet of resistance will be on the tower don't forget to include crow's nests, top hats, or standoffs used for antenna placement in your estimations. Be sure your tower manufacture has an ICBO#, expect your development department to ask for this.

Permitting process:
Your local development department will require that you obtain a building permit, and perhaps other permits for your new tower.

If your selected area is not commercially zoned you will need to complete a site approval application and pay a processing fee ($2000+/-). Your site approval will be subject to certain conditions such as improving driveway access and equipping the tower with an equipment shed, lighting, and signing a waiver allowing the development department to allow future tower developers to use your tower for their needs provided at a reasonable rent. If they find an existing suitable tower for your needs within a given area they will deny your request and require you use that existing tower. If not be prepared for the development department to survey neighbors and post public notices.

Structural Calculations
The development department will want an engineer licensed in your state to review your selected tower and accompanying equipment and draw up a set of structural calculations for both the footings and wind speed. They will most likely require 2-4 copies of stamped, wet signature calculations ($3500+/-).

Soil Sample
If the footings designed for the tower are rated for soil above your local area's threshold (around 1500 PSF) a core-type soil sample analysis will be required by a state licensed geotechnician ($3000+/-). If your footings are designed for 4000 PSF (like Trylon TSF Titan T-200) and your soil checks in at only 3000 PSF your structural engineer will need to re-draw the footings to accommodate that type of soil. It may be beneficial to determine your local threshold and have your structural engineer redraw the footings to fall below that limit at the same time he provides the wind-load calculations. This will avoid the need for a soil sample.

Building Permit
The building permit itself will carry a filing fee and subject your project to new found taxes, inspections, hazmat inquiries, and a whole host of other headaches ($400+/-).

The FAA will want you to file FAA Form 7460-1, Notice of Proposed Construction or Alteration. The development department may also require this.

Encroachment permits
May be required if you are close to public access roads.

Site preparation:
Your project area will need to clear of obstruction so a crane, backhoe, and other equipment can gain access.

Tower unloading
Sometimes you will need equipment on your receiving end to unload the tower when it is shipped, ask your distributor/shipper for more information.

To dig the hole will require a backhoe, estimate $150-300 for this.

Tower erection
You will most like require a crane to assist you in this process, depending on your area and the crane company this can cost as little as $300 but usually more in the $6-700 range. Be sure to ask for references and experience with towers.

Each cubic yard of concrete will cost roughly $80-110.

Reinforcement rod
Many tower footings call for grade 60 rebar, a pre-constructed cage will cost $150-500.

Tower jockey
If you don't want to climb the tower yourself you will need to pay someone else. This will probably be required to detach the crane's equipment from the tower once put into place. Someone will also need to bolt the sections. Will also be required for aiming directional antennas, routing cable etc.

Equipping your tower:
Once your tower is permitted and erected (I guarantee YOU won't be at this point) - your tower needs to be properly equipped.

The FAA or development department may require you paint your tower for aircraft visibility purposes; this price will vary considerably.

The FAA or development department may require you light your tower for aircraft visibility purposes, this price will also vary depending on what type of lights and the quantity required ($700+/-). May require backup source of electricity.

You might consider no-climb sides for your tower to reduce your liability, also a fence wouldn't be a bad idea ($1600+/-) - towers present an obstacle for youngsters to overcome.

Lighting protection
Your tower needs to be properly grounded, entire websites and threads are dedicated to this topic, and I won't even dare to venture there.

Equipment shelter
Will more than likely be required by development department with a minimum square footage. You can build this yourself or get a pre-fabricated therefore price can vary. ($400-3000+/-)

You will need to get power to your equipment shelter somehow, and this can't be done wirelessly.

It would be a good idea to get liability insurance on the tower in the event a youngster scales your fence and circumvents the no-climb guards.

Having your own tower is great but it will cost you considerably. These prices and conditions are from my experience in Central California - they may be different in your area. Your district may require more of you or considerably less. Investigate the matter thoroughly before you get started. I'm sure I've left some things out and would love to hear back from other readers with comments or suggestions. Either IM on DSLR, respond here or send an e-mail to scott at velociter dot net.

Feedback received on this FAQ entry:
  • I have a Glen Martin antenna lift system that bolts on the side of 45G tower so You can lift your antenna up and down the tower without climbing anymore. There is enough track to go up to 90ft on the side of your 45G tower. It comes with the cart and cable and track and stainless hardware to bolt the track onto the 45G tower. $1900 for all.

    2013-01-29 12:01:25

  • Hi Scott, well written article my friend. Its certainly NOT something one should " leap " into with eyes closed. I feel pretty certain you have given readers a real " heads up " here and I personally wish to send my thanks for such. I came into it with eyes wide open and still got huge shocks when the reallity of it dawned :-) Your prices even though your in the US are deffinately comparible to Aust pricing here. Great Work Scott, we can learn a lot here , its written in such a way as to not put people off the idea but it gives a " real " look at some of the challenges a potential tower owner / service provider WILL face. All the best from Down Under. Kindest Regards Charlie Flinders Ranges South Australia

    2011-11-20 20:16:12

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by scottvd See Profile edited by seagreen See Profile
last modified: 2006-06-16 13:41:13