What Is a Build out?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 August 2019
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Sometimes known as a lot-yield analysis, a build out is a projection of the degree of development that is likely to occur in a given geographic location within a specified period of time. Urban planners often engage in this type of projection as a means of aiding municipalities in determining what future needs may be met by developing a section of land in a particular way. The process involves using an number of different calculations to predict what is likely to happen over the years, allowing the city to have some idea of when and how to expand essential city services based on where new neighborhoods will emerge, as well as where business and commercial enterprises may choose to locate.

The general idea of a build out is helpful in that projecting how land will be used in the future makes it easy to plan for those outcomes. For example, if the results of a build out indicate that a municipality will grow to the east over the next ten years, city officials can begin to think in terms of what will need to be done in order to properly develop the area. This would include tasks such as extending water and sewage systems to the area, determining how to zone the space for residential and commercial purposes, and in general how to participate in the ongoing change.


A build out may also be used as part of an urban renewal project, using the basic idea to project what would happen to an area in decline if certain changes were made with a specified time frame. In this application, the focus of the build out could include the anticipation of citizens choosing to live in a downtown area rather than commute from the suburbs. In order to support this type of shift in the population, the build out may help to develop a master plan that converts unused buildings into apartments of condominiums in the area, as well as offering incentives that motivate restaurants, grocers, and other merchants to return to the downtown area. Assuming that the projections are accurate, this could mean that at the end of the time frame under consideration, the decline would be reversed and the area would once again be a vital part of the city.

With the use of a build out strategy, assessing the potential for a section of land, along with identifying indicators that help to project the feasibility of various types of development of that land, is a much easier task. Since the approach relies upon solid data as the basis for the calculations, the probability of those projections coming to pass will depend greatly on the accuracy of that data. For this reason, a build out approach will often make use of a wide range of information that can help verify other findings and minimize the chances of working with a land development project that ultimately is proven to be worthless.


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