A site plan illustrates a building’s footprint in relation to the property it sits on and its attributes.

When a house is properly sited, it provides a sense of belonging and a sense of place. Building sites offer a staggering variety of issues that must be dealt with when planning for a home. Dealing with water, rock, vegetation, slope, local weather, soil type, views, surrounding construction and zoning regulations can require persistence, patience, and ingenuity!

There’s no formula for dealing with the issues presented when creating a site plan, but there are several elements that should be considered by every home designer, builder, and homeowner. The one master rule? Don’t settle on a house design until you’ve developed a site plan and design!

Let’s explore what goes into creating a residential site plan drawing, why you need one and why site planning is so important as a first step in the home building process.

What Is A Site Plan

Home and property improvements, whether a new build, or alterations to an existing structure or property, can result in significant changes to your home and outdoor space including issues like drainage, landscaping, and topography. Whether you’re working with an architect, a design-build firm or a contractor any changes usually start with a plan. A big part of that plan is knowing the existing elements and layout of your property and understanding how it will be altered. This is where a site plan comes in.

A site plan is a readable map or diagram showing a plot of land on which structures sit, such as a house along with any additional landscape topography and features such as a detached garage, outbuildings, an in-ground swimming pool, large trees, rocks, fences utility poles, or basically another other fixed element on the property. Whenever any additional structures or alterations are made to a piece of property, it should be added to the site plan drawing.

A site plan a scale drawing that is used by governments to historically document changes to a property. Generally, a residential site plan depicts everything within the property lines including topography, pathways, buildings, and utilities.

Key Issues to Consider When Creating a Site Plan

Depending on the locality and zoning regulations a site plan may need to include certain elements. As a general rule a site plan must take into account:

  • local zoning and other regulations
  • utilities located on the property
  • access to the property
  • topography
  • natural light
  • views
  • wind
  • vegetation
  • drainage and soils

Once these elements are considered, the designer can begin to develop scale drawings that will document the ideal placement and final location of any proposed or existing structures located on the property. All of these considerations will go into the development of any building site. The local planning commission will dictate what elements must be included in a formal site plan. As a general rule a site plan drawing must contain:

  • Topographic information
  • Location of all existing structures, as well as the location of any proposed structures
  • Location and dimensions of any access points such as driveways, walkways etc.
  • Location of trash receptacles
  • Distances between the property line and the centerline of any adjacent streets
  • Any required road improvements
  • Existing and proposed landscaped areas and improvements
  • North arrow and scale
  • Phasing plan when applicable.

A detailed residential site plan drawing may also include elevation drawings of structures and should appear on the plot plan to address water sources, sewage disposal, underground utilities and any fencing or other improvements.

Why You Need A Site Plan Drawing

There is a number a reasons to develop a detailed site plan drawing. For example, in many cases in order to various home building permits for new construction, you must provide local planning boards and licensing commissions with detailed site plan drawings.

If you are planning any improvements to a property, you may also need to prepare detailed site plan drawings in order for changes to be approved by the local government. They will use these drawings to determine if your proposed improvements meet local building codes and zoning regulations before issuing approval to build.

Finally, a site plan is often kept with a plot plan as a historical record of the activity of a particular piece of property. This is a valuable resource for potential home buyers, sellers, and developers and is usually accessible through the local planning commission or building department.

Creating an accurate and up to date residential site plan drawing is an important first step when seeking to develop any piece of property. If you’re planning a new build, a site plan is the important first step to take before you begin the design process. If you’re improving an existing piece of property, a site plan can set the stage for a phased-in improvement plan. It does take some time, expense and effort. But it is effort well spent and can prevent costly problems later in the process!

About Houston Plans and Permits
Houston Plans & Permits provides custom design services for builders and homeowners located in greater Houston. Our home plans are designed to meet your town’s building code requirements and our professional permit expeditors will oversee and complete your building permit applications and walk them through your town’s entire Permit process.