Why Accurate Site Plans are Essential to Moving Your Project Forward


The planning process, as with many situations in life, can be the most important, and for the building process, one part of the initial development stage is the creation of an accurate site plan to guide the project.

A site plan shows the full relationship of the building to the land, and is a graphical representation that includes special requirements such as site access and circulation, parking, walkways, and landscape/hardscape areas. Typically, the initial concept site plan is drawn by an architect, and the engineer’s role is to help develop it further.

1. Site plans can help you understand potential constraints early on in the process.

Some critical issues that need to be addressed that are integrated into the site plan are the following:

  • site access and circulation, including fire department access,

  • grading,

  • drainage vs. latest environmental clean water requirements,

  • utility services,

  • any site specific encumbarances such as easements/ dedications, and

  • jurisdictional setbacks.

The site plan needs to depict developable building areas in relationship to the land, parking requirements, and other zoning as well as site specific constraints. This is why a topographic survey supplemented with a good depiction of underground drainage and utility services on-site or in the adjoining streets is of key importance at an early stage of the project. You can integrate the proposed site development with the topographic survey to get a comprehensive understanding of how the proposed development is served and works with the known existing constraints and features.

2. Accurate site plans can help you determine the project’s constructability and prevent future mistakes.

Given the initial information from the initial conceptual site plan and the topographic survey, the site plan can then be reworked to incorporate any accommodations or changes. Every square foot counts–sometimes, you may end up with a smaller or bigger project that you thought you had. Or perhaps you may need to make changes to your budget because of the information that you found. An accurate site plan can signal you to make necessary changes, and also save you from making costly construction mistakes throughout the building process. This can save valuable time and resources and allow for a fully functional and cost-effective building project in the end.

3. Site plans are part of the construction document process to meet permitting standards of local jurisdictions.

Accurate and detailed site plans serve as a talking point for the regulatory agencies that have jurisdiction over the project for approvals. Meeting early on with the relevant public/ private jurisdictions to discuss and better understand potential issues is extremely valuable. During the permitting process, the reviewing agencies may offer comments or concerns over details of the project site plan, and the civil engineer can help in finding solutions and guide the development of the plans as needed. The City of Fremont, for example, has a planning review permit process that often requires an accurate site plan.

An accurate site plan can can help you understand site constraints, prevent potential mistakes, and serve as part of the construction document process to meet permitting standards. The design and permitting review process associated with site planning can be a challenging, yet rewarding and extremely valuable process that the civil engineer can facilitate.

Need help with site planning? Get in touch with our experienced civil engineers who can help you with the entire process. Call us at 510-505-9501 ext. 11, or email at info@landtech.com, and we will respond promptly.

OR Download a Project Planning Checklist to help you through the process:

Checklist- Steps for Planning A Successful Bay Area Project (4)


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