What is a Site Plan?

Ken Black

A site plan is a drawing that shows an interested party what the plans for developing land are. It basically serves the same purpose as the floor plan for a house, though it is for the entire property. Further, this plan does not need to include the floor plans of any buildings. This is often considered one of the key components in getting a construction project approved. Many jurisdictions will require a site plan before even moving forward in the process of approving a project, especially a commercial project.

Architects develop a site plan for developing land.
Architects develop a site plan for developing land.

In most cases, the site design is handled by a professional architect, who is working under the direction of the owner of the project. This is the person who will likely be responsible for drawing up a the plan for the site as well. In most cases, it is best to have the document drawn by a professional, as it needs to be to scale, and as accurate as possible. Any changes may need to go to a governing board, such as a site plan review board set up by a city, for approval.

The process of site planning involves taking into consideration any physical attributes of the area to be developed.
The process of site planning involves taking into consideration any physical attributes of the area to be developed.

There are many things site plans will have in common. First, there should be some sort of directional orientation, most likely a compass, or at least a north-pointing arrow. Also, it will reflect the location and size of each building to be built, or that currently exists, as well as parking, and even the landscape design. A landscape architect may be called to help develop an adequate landscape plan, and add those features to the plan. Measurements must also be included.

Site plans must be drawn to scale and be as accurate as possible.
Site plans must be drawn to scale and be as accurate as possible.

The materials used will also be reflected in a site plan. For example, if a parking lot and sidewalks are to be paved, the difference between concrete or asphalt is very important, and could make a difference to a review board. Without noting this on the plan, it is likely approval will be delayed, or even denied, until this information is included. The materials used can alter the appearance and functionality of the site significantly, which is why it is so important to include that information.

Adequate parking space must be considered when developing a site plan.
Adequate parking space must be considered when developing a site plan.

For those who are interested in sharing their plan for development with the public, they may decide to add color to the site plan. Though this is normally not required, it may help add to the public interest over the project by showing what colors are envisioned for the surrounding landscape and paved areas. An official site plan may not be accepted by a board if color is included, however. It is always best to check with the local governing body, usually a city or county, before adding any color to the official plan.

Site planning may include implementing areas for green space.
Site planning may include implementing areas for green space.

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Discussion Comments

Certlerant

A construction site plan is important to a town planning board so the board can ensure that the lot will comply with codes for parking, handicapped accessibility, easements and other safety and aesthetic concerns.

Most construction codes require a set number of parking spaces per square foot of building and must have proper drainage and plumbing, if necessary.

In some cases, architects must conduct tests for soil contamination on the lot in question and also must present a plan for remediation before construction can begin.

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