Site plans are essential documents created by architects. Distributed to construction managers, permit granting authorities, and clients – site plans accurately display a top-down view of the entire area on which a construction or demolition project will take place.
These blueprints are often included on the cover page of an architectural document pack because they give an accurate overview of how a project will proceed. Most site plans are provided in two parts. One part of the plan displays the site as it is before construction or demolition takes place.
The other shows what the site will look like after the project is completed. Although site plans were traditionally put together by draftsmen and women using pencil and paper, they are now typically generated using some kind of AutoCAD software.
Most local authorities require site plans to be submitted before they can allow a project to go ahead. They need to pour over the information provided in the plan in order to make sure that no laws will be violated during the completion of the project.
Likewise, construction managers need to have a site plan available to them so that they can accurately orientate and scale their work. Here is a very quick guide to the things that are typically included in a competent site plan.
All site plans need to include a title block. The title block – usually found at the bottom right-hand corner of the document – conveys some extremely important information about the plan and the authors of that plan. The title block must include the name of the architect, the name of the client, and the name of the project.
It must also include information about the scale of the plan and the project number. When reading a site plan, most people’s eyes will be drawn naturally to the title block first so that they can get a handle on what they are looking at. Most simple site plan software automatically generates a title block based on the information the architect provides.
If a project accidentally infringes on property that is in the possession of a third party during the construction or design phase, then it can spell big trouble. Local authorities will typically deny planning applications if they encroach upon property that is not under the control of the commissioning party.
If the local authorities don’t stop it, private citizens may also take an architect’s client to court if they build on their land. For this reason, property lines need to be very clearly marked out on site plans. Property boundaries should be taken into account at the earliest possible stage of a design.
Construction managers need to know how to organize ingress and egress from a site in order to complete a project. It is very important that all routes of access are clearly marked in the site plan. This stops a project from getting stalled while construction professionals try and work out how to get their heavy machinery and building materials onto a site and ready for use.
Setbacks are the spaces between a building and the property line. Although these are usually quite obviously marked spaces of ground (such as gardens or parking lots), they can be more ambiguous. For this reason, they must be clearly marked on the site plan.
A site map should include the entirety of the property that the project will be built upon – not just the built environment itself. This typically includes landscape elements. Trees raised areas, slopes, and just about anything else you can think of are included as part of a site map’s coverage of the landscape.
In some instances, the site map will include information about the kind of soil and rock that sits beneath a proposed building in order to aid construction managers and civil engineers. No building is complete without the landscape that surrounds it. Landscapes contextualize the built structures around us. Some projects also include extensive landscaping construction or removal operations.
All site plans must include an easy-to-read key. This helps the reader to understand the various lines, colors, and symbols that are inevitably used to convey things on the map. Readers can refer to the key when they are unsure of the meaning of a symbol or line. Site plan symbols have been standardized – they use the same symbols as floor plans. This means that most of the more commonly found symbols, colors, and lines will be instantly recognizable to construction managers and authorities. Clients and stakeholders, however, will usually need to refer to the key when making sense of a site plan.
Easements are areas within a property that may be shared with people that are not the client of the architect. Examples of easements are: public footpaths, power lines, and municipal sewers. Although these features to go through the property of the client, they do not belong to them and must be marked as such.
It is vitally important that the relevant members of the public and representatives of authorized maintenance groups retain access to these areas without fear of civil litigation from the client of the project. If the client is made aware of these spaces from the very beginning using the site plan, then the risk of misunderstanding is lowered.
The construction limits of a project are the physical limits to the reach of the construction team. Limits should be clearly marked so that construction managers can instruct their teams on where they should and should not be completing their work, storing their materials, or making any changes to the landscape.
Some site plans will need to include special notes: ensuring that clients, construction managers, engineers, and permit granting authorities are aware of special construction conditions that may impact the project. Special notes may include information on landscape, materials, dangers to staff, and environmental conditions that may have an effect on the way the project is completed.