10 things to include in a site plan

Development Site Plan: 10 Things You Must Include


Whether you’re a student in the studio or working at a design firm, there’s one thing everyone can agree on: What’s on the site is crucial when it comes to the design of a building. That’s why a lot of time, thought, and money goes into conducting a site analysis before the conceptual phase of design even begins. 

The following elements of your site all influence the final design of a building:

  • Topography

  • Vegetation

  • Infrastructure

  • Existing buildings

  • Weather

  • Culture

Once a thorough site analysis has been conducted, the concept with a site plan showing existing and proposed conditions will be presented. 

Other than a North Arrow and Scale Bar, here are ten of the main items you must include on your site plan once the site analysis is complete.

1. Property Lines

property line placement in a site plan

Including the property lines on your development site plan is one of the most important elements. In a way, it sets the stage for your design. You can have the most innovative or beautiful building, but you can’t encroach on an owner’s adjacent property. If you do, you’ll be in for extra time conducting more surveys and more drawings. At worst, you could find yourself with a lawsuit. 

2. Distance Between Buildings and Property Lines

Understanding your site goes beyond staying inside your own property lines. Surrounding infrastructure and buildings play an important role in shaping your design. Make sure to include all those dimensions on your plan because issues like the following are determined by what goes on around the site:

  • Building height

  • Zoning

  • Building usage

  • Fire hazards

3. Existing and Proposed Conditions

Existing and Proposed Conditions for site plan

For city officials and plan reviewers to grasp the full scope of your design, you’ll want to present both existing and proposed conditions, including fence lines and especially all utility lines. It also lets you know if other city officials such as inspectors need to be present throughout the construction of your building.

4. Easements

Labeling easement in a site plan

Easements are needed anytime you need to cross or maintain an element of your design that will exist on an adjacent property. For example, if you need a pipe run and it crosses the corner of another property, you need an easement to have the legal right to cross that corner and maintain that portion of the pipe. You can show easements graphically or with text, but there needs to be no question that an easement exists. 

5. Construction Limits and Lay Down Areas

This shows the areas of the property where construction takes place. It also will delineate the area located on or near the site where the construction-related supplies, storage, equipment parking, and partial assembly takes place. 

6. Driveways

driveway placement and dimensions in a site plan

From the driveway width to the curb cut dimensions, there are many code requirements governing the design of access onto your site. Make sure you know the rules and then include all dimensions on your site plan.

7. Parking

Parking is a huge issue when it comes to planning a site, especially in a commercial setting or a dense downtown environment. A lot of time, thought, and research goes into determining an adequate amount of parking, so make sure to include parking diagrams equipped with the following items in your site plan:

  • Dimensions

  • Flow of traffic

  • Accessible parking spaces

  • Signage

8. Surrounding Streets and Ground Sign Locations

Understanding how traffic flows through and around your site is crucial. Showing the surrounding streets—whether they’re main arteries, avenues, or dead ends—will help illustrate the impact your design will have on the traffic around the site. It also provides a context for your building.  

stop sign locations and traffic direction in a site plan

Ground sign locations will tell the whole story of your site. When you draw your streets, include:

  • Stop signs

  • Traffic lights

  • Highway signs

  • Etc.

9. Fire Hydrants

Not only is access to the site important for occupants, but it’s also necessary for emergency personnel. There are codes governing the distance your building will need to be from fire hydrants, depending on the type of construction. If you’re doing a renovation, oftentimes this won’t be needed. However, new construction always needs to have fire hydrants included on the development site plan that you are submitting to the city. 

10. Landscaped Areas

Landscaping is not only used for aesthetics, but oftentimes it’s part of a fragile ecosystem that must be preserved. Or it’s designed to help preserve the surrounding ecosystem. Make sure to put in existing and proposed landscaping, including erosion and runoff controls. 

Site Plan Conclusions

When you’re putting together a development site plan, try to think of it as telling the story of the site and building. For plan reviewers to understand your design, you must tell the whole story. Oftentimes, more is better when it comes to the site plan. Leave no room for interpretation.

To learn more about the importance of site planning, learn about Revit for AutoCAD Users from Pluralsight!