Home and property improvements can result in significant changes to your residence and outdoor space including landscaping and backyard. Whether you do the work yourself or hire an architect, builder, or a contractor, the desired change to your property normally starts with a building plan.
And part of that plan is knowing the existing territory and layout of your property and understanding how it will be improved or altered. — This is where a site plan also known as a plot plan.
What is a site plan?
A site plan is a scaled drawing which shows the uses and structures proposed for a parcel of land. It also includes information concerning the landscape features of a given parcel.
What's the purpose of a site plan?
Site plans are intended to show how the intended land use relates to the features of a parcel and its surrounding area. The zoning administrator will review a site plan to assure that the proposed development meets the standards of the zoning code for the district it is located in. This person will also verify that the development will be adequately served by necessary public facilities such as roads, schools, water, emergency services, and sewage disposal. The site plan review process is designed to protect landowners and it is in their best interest to comply with the procedure. A development that is in full compliance with the zoning code has the best insurance against land use lawsuits and complaints. Furthermore, a development that is not in compliance with the zoning code is unlikely to be granted any further development permits until it is brought into compliance.
Do i need a site plan?
A site plan is needed for any:
(1) structure that is erected, reconstructed, enlarged, or altered with the exception of those structures used explicitly for farming uses and only farming uses in its entirety.
(2) changes in land use to that other than a farming use.
(3) change in occupancy for all uses other than a single-family dwelling or farming use. Depending on the type of land use, different types of site plans are required.
5 Important items to include in a site plan
The following list actually includes more than 5 items, but we are having you understand this conceptually as much as technically. Our list is in an order of importance that translates to what is vital on the outer edges of the site plan, and then it works its inward to more specific considerations.
Property Lines and (optionally) immediate vicinity items — this is the place to start and is how navigation on the diagram will work in relation to key structures within those borders.
Immediate vicinity items include streets, neighboring structures, signs, fire hydrants.
Distances and Precise Measurements
An experienced professional knows what is needed on this tangent, but the primary consideration is whatever are the key structures (i.e. home, or proposed landscape area) will have a line directly adjacent to the structure extending to nearest property line with notation of distance.
Another primary notation is the length of the property lines. The distance between structures can be helpful, but it depends on the project specifics.
If a scale is presented, and measurements are accurate, then structures or pathways can be calculated by anyone looking at the diagram.
This would be all the significant items that are desired to be noted in the diagram. Could be lots of things, but mainly be sure to include the shapes of a:
driveway / pathways
pool, deck, patio where applicable
trees or larger bushes
fences or retaining walls
This is the time to add slope or elevation notations to the diagram. Perhaps helpful to note at each corner along property lines what the elevation is in terms of feet over the sea level. Then within the property lines, contour lines can be drawn if there is a slope of any sort on the property.
Existing slopes can be drawn with, say a dotted line, and proposed elevation changes (new slopes) can be drawn with a solid line, also with their own elevation notations.
Any additional vegetation could be added if smaller bushes are deemed a consideration for what is being proposed.
Drawing the type of surface is helpful, but is optional unless it is a driveway or pathway.
If the property will legally allow other people to use a specific portion of the land for say crossing over, this ought to be noted on the site plan, and especially easements.
Make note of where utility, water and any gas lines are located on the property (presumably underground).