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Residential Construction - What to Submit to the Planning Department?

Updated on July 26, 2011

If your residential construction project needs to go through a Planning Department Review, most likely you're altering the exterior appearance or the footprint of your building. This scale of project generally involves a larger design team other than your favorite decorator. Typically, any Planning Department will have a check list outlining what needs to be submitted with your application. Be sure to review them with your design team. In general, you are expected to submit the following architectural drawings: site plan, building plan, exterior elevations, site sections, 3-D renderings, and/or color and material samples. For more information on each of the items listed above, see here. In addition, they may request the following items. They are typically provided by different consultants.

  • Property Survey - This is completed by a licensed land surveyor contracted directly with the Owner rather than under the architect/designer. There are two types of surveys, an Alta survey locates the property line and any on-site easements, a Topographic survey which shows the slope, topography (contour or spot elevation), site features of your project. Both are important and may be required by the Planning Department. Most of the time, these two are combined and shown on one sheet of drawing. You just need to be clear of what kind of survey you're obtaining.
  • Preliminary Grading Plan - This is prepared by a licensed civil engineer to show grading around the construction site. This drawing is then used by the same engineer to prepare the Cut/Fill Calculation listed below. Preliminary Grading Plan is crucial on sloped site. This will affect the City/local jurisdiction's storm water drainage capacity. Civil engineer can be contracted with the Owner directly or under the architect/designer.
  • Cut/Fill Calculation - Again, if your project is located on a sloped site and requires major grading, the Planning Department may request a calculation of how much soil you plan to relocate or import. This calculation is typically done by the civil engineer.
  • Arborist Report - If there are mature trees on your project, the Planning Department may require you to hire a licensed arborist to survey the trees on the property. Or if your addition/construction is too close to neighboring property, they may request that your arborist report includes adjacent property's trees. This report is in addition to the property survey. The report typically outlines the species, size, condition of each tree, as well as identifies any Heritage (historic) Trees on site. It also will detail a protection plan if the tree is too close to the area of construction. If the tree is slated to be removed, it will identify the replacement value of the tree, in case the Planning Department wants you to replace it.
  • Landscape Plans - This is prepared by a landscape architect. It should show preliminary landscape design, plant palate/species, proposed plant sizes, conceptual irrigation design and or water budget/usage calculation. It should also show pictures of the plants and site furniture if they are being used at locations where the public can see it.

These are just a sample of what the Planning Department may required.  If you have additional questions, feel free to drop me a note.


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