December 9

9 Basic Elements of a Site Plan

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Knowing what is on the development site is crucial when it comes to the design of a building. A detailed plan is needed to give you important information. Once a thorough site analysis has been conducted, the concept with a site plan showing existing and proposed conditions is ready to be presented.

Many different building permits require a site plan, also sometimes called a plot plan.  To avoid delays in the review and approval of your project, a complete and accurate site plan drawn to scale is required in most cities.

What Is a Site Plan?

A site plan is an architectural document that functions as a map of a building site. It provides all the details about how the structure will be oriented on the lot.  The site notes contain valuable information that impacts your property.

A builder or contractor will create a diagram that shows the plot of land and its property lines, along with the following:

  • Landscape features
  • Structural elements
  • Setbacks
  • Driveways
  • Utility poles
  • Power lines
  • Fencing
  • On-site structures

Site plans are used for several important functions. County governments require site plans to be filed to make sure state and local building codes are followed. They also serve as a historical record of a building. Real estate agents use site plans to show all the home’s key features, including the size and outdoor features.

Most site plans are 2D aerial maps that give you a clear overview of your property’s features. A 3D map is a three-dimensional plan that is particularly useful for understanding the landscape, including plantings, the building's parking, and outdoor structures.

What a Site Plan Should Include

Putting together a development site plan is like telling the story of the site and building. Think of it as telling the story of the site and building. For plan reviewers to understand the design, the more information included the better. Here are some of the main items a good site plan should include:

1. Property Lines and Setbacks

You cannot encroach on an owner’s adjacent property; hence, the importance of including the property lines on your development site plan. Property lines are called out around the exterior of the lot.

Surrounding infrastructure and buildings play an important role in shaping your design. Make sure to include all those dimensions on your plan. Issues like zoning, building height, and fire hazards are determined by what goes on around the site.

2. Easements

The feature of a property that is shared by someone else for a specific purpose is an easement. These can include a pathway through your property to a neighborhood park, utility lines, or parts of the property that are maintained by a homeowners association. You can show easements graphically or with text.

3. Construction Limits and Lay Down Areas

This shows the areas of the property where construction takes place. It also will show the areas near the site where construction supplies and equipment will be stored.

4. Existing and Proposed Conditions

Fence lines, utility, and power lines need to be shown on your site plan. It also lets you know if other city officials such as inspectors need to be present throughout the construction of your building.

5. Driveways

A good site plan will show the exact dimensions of driveways and curbs. There are many code requirements concerning the design for access to your site.

6. Parking

Parking is another crucial feature when planning a site, especially in a commercial setting or crowded city environment. Site plans should include parking diagrams equipped with dimensions, number of parking spaces, the flow of traffic, and signage.

7. Surrounding Streets and Ground Sign Locations

How traffic flows through and around your site is important to know. It will show the impact your building will have on traffic around the site. Your streets should include stop signs, traffic lights, and highway signs.

8. Fire Hydrants

Access to the site is important for occupants and emergency personnel. New construction must have fire hydrants included on the development site plan when you submit it to the city.

9. Landscaped Areas

Existing and proposed landscaping, as well as erosion and runoff controls should be included. A good site plan will include not only the measurement but also the type of landscape feature.

Trusted Site Planning Professionals

If you are ready to move forward with your development project, Pickett, Ray, and Silver is the firm to call. Our land surveying and planning teams have over 50 years of experience with different types of projects.


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