Site Plans and Plot Plans: Who Needs Them and Why?

Site Plans and Plot Plans: Who Needs Them and Why?

Whether applying for a permit for a simple tree removal, excavation, grading, or demolition, the counter staff will always ask for a site plan detailing the dimensions of the surrounding structures, lot lines, trees, and other items. This site plan is useful for the public works, engineering, and building departments when determining whether to approve, disapprove, or require special conditions for your project.  

Our experience has been that, when the plans are nicely laid out and easily readable, the building department often has less questions and therefore issues the permit much faster.  When plans are hand-drawn, they are often illegible and can annoy plan reviewers, delaying the process.

Although it can be an inconvenience to draw these plans, they are very helpful to municipalities when determining setbacks, conditions, and future building restrictions that relate to your project, so having accurate site plans is a crucial part of the process. 

If you have any questions about what type of site plan you need, we encourage you to reach out to us, and we can help guide you based on our 15 years of experience with site plans and building permits.


Question Answer
What specific details must be included in a site plan for permit approval? A complete site plan should include detailed dimensions of surrounding structures, lot lines, trees, locations of utilities, easements, and north arrows for orientation.
How can I ensure my hand-drawn site plan is legible and acceptable for review? To ensure legibility, use clear, fine-point pens and heavy, unlined paper. Include a scale bar, label all elements clearly, and avoid smudging by using clean, sharp lines.
Are digital site plans preferred over hand-drawn ones, and why? Digital site plans are generally preferred because they are easier to read, edit, and share. They also tend to be more accurate and can be easily duplicated or modified.
What common mistakes should be avoided when preparing a site plan for a building permit application? Common mistakes include not scaling the plan properly, omitting necessary details like setbacks and easements, and failing to check local zoning laws and regulations.
How often do municipalities require revisions to initial site plans submitted for permit applications? Revisions are quite common as initial plans may not fully comply with local requirements or might lack detail. Expect to possibly revise your plans at least once.

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  • Amber Hina