The Ultimate Site Plan Guide for Residential Construction - Plot Plans for Home Building (2023)

There is a creative side to building a home and a practical side. It is essential to address both as you plan your beautiful new dwelling.

The Ultimate Site Plan Guide for Residential Construction - Plot Plans for Home Building (1)

This site plan guide covers one of the most important practical components of getting a home built.

A quality, accurate site plan is necessary for every phase of the project from planning to building. After reading this article, you will have a clear understanding what site plans include and know where to have yours affordably prepared.

We get a range of common questions about site plans, aka plot plans. This plot plan guide answers:

  • What is a site plan? What is a plot plan?
  • What is the purpose of a site plan?
  • Why do you need a site plan?
  • What information is on a site plan?
  • Where do you get a site plan?
  • How much does a site plan cost?

A Site Plan is Your Vision for the Property

Question: What is a site plan? What is a plot plan?

Answer: A site plan is the exterior counterpart to a floorplan.

You’ve probably spent hours planning the house, its floorplan, features, roofing, flooring, countertops, colors…Making all those choices for a new house is fun, even if a little overwhelming at times.

But there’s a “big picture” that must be considered too. You’ve got to first, or at least simultaneously, plan how to use your entire property. In fact, until your local building officials sign off on the site plan for the property, you can’t be sure your house plan is a “go.”

A site plan is a detailed drawing of how you plan to develop the piece of ground your gorgeous home will occupy. Let’s be specific, with more detail later.

The home site: The site plan or plot plan shows essentials like the lot size, the location and footprint of the home and garage on the property and what direction they will face. The proposed driveway and walkways are drawn.

The infrastructure: The locations of underground and overhead utilities are shown – and utility easements where no building can occur. The plot plan creators have access to the documents and Global Information Systems (GIS) data including satellite images needed to locate utilities and permanent property features.

The basic information: A site plan often includes the physical address, legal description and other essential property information.

A Site Plan is Needed for Permission and Direction

Question: What is the purpose of a site plan? Why do you need a site plan?

Answer: People involved in decision-making and carrying out your building project require a site plan. Who exactly needs a site plan? Make copies for:

Your local building department

Every city or county has codes about new home construction. Your home site plan will demonstrate to the officials that your proposed project meets its rules and regulations including:

Setbacks: Your home must be a certain distance off the property lines to give your neighbors space.

Utility easements: The city or county grants easements to utility providers, so they have room for water, sewer, cable, electric, etc. You can’t build on the easement or build within a distance of the easement determined by the city/county. While these easements are typically at the road, they may also be between or behind homes.

House size: Most municipalities stipulate that a home can’t take up more than a given percentage of the property. The percentage varies. Basically, the goal is to prevent very large homes from being built on the “postage stamp” lots so prevalent today in new neighborhoods.

The building department, which might be called the planning department or similar name where you live, requires the site plan as one of the documents to be included in your building permit application. Other documents usually include house drawings, whether formal architectural blueprints or something like graph paper with dimensions. Typically, urban and suburban communities require more specificity in the drawings. Rural areas are more relaxed.

But every community’s building official(s) wants a site plan.

Well & Septic Department

In many communities, the Health Department determines the placement of wells and septic tanks and drain fields (leach fields).

If your property is in a rural area not served by city water and sewer, then your project will include a well and septic system. And whoever is in charge of them will definitely want to see your site plan and decide where the well and septic drain field will be placed. It’s their call based on the property’s topography and soils.

More Info on Drilling Permits for Water Wells:

Your architect

If you’re employing an architect to produce blueprints, the good ones want to know about your property before they start designing the house you’ll call home.

A site plan shows topography and directions, so the architect will know if a basement – maybe a walk-out basement – is an option. Where will the sun be hitting the house in morning and evening? The architect will design window locations to take advantage of the views without creating space that is bound to be overly warm on summer afternoons.

Where should the deck or patio be situated given the “lay of the land”?

These are the types of home enhancements an architect can only recommend for you if they have your site plan to guide them.

The excavator and builders/tradespeople

It is the excavator’s job to dig the foundation, if there is one, or simply remove the topsoil from the spot where the house will sit. Foundation or slab installers come next, providing your home with a solid footing.

The driveway, sidewalks, retaining walls, a deck or patio – and don’t forget the pool – might be part of the total plan. All the contractors rely on the site plan to accurately execute their phase of the project.

The homeowners’ association – the HOA

Nobody likes the HOA when they are building a home or putting on an addition. But everyone likes the HOA when somebody else in the neighborhood is building and the HOA keeps them “in line.” HOA rules and regs can be stricter than the city’s or county’s code. Does the county require setbacks of 10 feet? The HOA might require 20 feet. Your site plan will keep the homeowners’ association from objecting to your plan – as long as the plan meets HOA restrictions. More on HOA plot plans:

Ever wonder what it will cost to develop your property?

Site Plan Information

Question: What information is on a site plan?

Answer: Legal information about the property and practical information about property features and the changes you propose making to the property.

The information required on a site plan includes most or all of the following in most cities and counties.

Three Ws: Who – what – where

These details include who owns the property, what it’s legal description is – metes & bounds – contact information for the owner, and, if the information is available or locally required, who the general contractor/builder will be.

A graphical scale shows the relationship of the drawing size to the size of the property. For example, a ¼” scale means that each ¼” of the drawing equals 1 foot of the property.

Existing or proposed water line, sewer line (or well and drain field), underground or overhead electrical lines and other infrastructure goes on a plot plan too.

In most communities, the site plan must also show a directional arrow so those reviewing it know which direction the house will face, the road or roads adjoining the property, footprint and accurate dimensions of the house and garage and how far off the property lines they will sit.

Permanent structures and other man-made features already on the property will be drawn on the site plan.

Topography details are required in communities where slope varies quite a bit. The topographical details determine how water flows on the property during seasonal or heavy downfalls or melting snow in the spring. This allows for the placement of the home where its foundation won’t be inundated with heavy water flow at any time. Water and foundations simply don’t mix, and you definitely want to prevent water leaks and damage by situating your home well away from where water naturally flows.

That covers the essentials. If you want to know everything that should go on a site plan, there are more details in our post 12 Things to Include in Your Plot Plan.

Keeping your options open

Think you might put up a pole building in the future? Maybe build an addition for your expanding family or to use as an in-law suite? A savvy site plan ensures that appropriate space will remain for future changes to the home or property.

For example, if you think you’ll eventually add a 20×25 owner’s suite bedroom and bathroom to the north side of the house, you will want to keep the house far enough off the north boundary so that you can put on the addition and still meet the setback requirements. It pays to think ahead.

Obtaining a Site Plan

Question: Where do you get a site plan?

Answer: 24H Plans is the cost-effective choice. We deliver professional plot plans / site plans within 24 hours. Our pros use local plat maps, GIS satellite images and information from local utilities to ensure total accuracy in the details.

Depending on where you live, your other options are local architects or land/soil engineers. Both charge prices much higher than 24H Plans, but use the same or similar data and software that 24H Plans does to produce detailed and accurate site plans.

Site Plan Cost

Question: How much does a site plan cost?

Answer: As much as you want to pay, given that local architects and engineers charge ridiculous prices of $500 to $1,250.

Site plan cost from 24H Plans includes a high-quality, professionally prepared drawing that fully meets your local requirements with a price less than $160. Or you can pay five times as much for the same thing from someone else.

We guarantee a site plan produced by 24H Plans will meet the site plan requirements of local building officials, the HOA and other parties making a determination about your building project.

Things to Think About Before Finalizing the Site Plan

Once you finalize the site plan, submit it and it is accepted, it is a hassle to change. The drawing can be changed easily, but all the interested parties will have to approve any alterations to an accepted site plan. You might have to resubmit your application for a building permit, pay an architect to alter blueprints, etc.

In other words, changes can be made, but at a cost of time and money. And once the house is built, it is there to stay.

With that in mind, here are building site considerations that will ensure you are very happy with your completed project.

The Shape and Slope of your Property

Many lots are small and rectangular, and you have little choice but to square up the house to the street. It would look odd any other way.

But when you’ve got a larger lot, perhaps with a curvy road meandering through the neighborhood, your options expand. Think about how to best take advantage of the property’s shape and topography.

  1. Orient the home and consider window location to enjoy the best views when looking straight out windows. This is important on a lot of any size.
  2. Avoid placing the home’s footprint on or near low areas or where natural waterflow and drainage will threaten your home.
  3. Consider a walkout basement or lower level, if there’s enough slope. You’ll have to decide how to orient the home based on whether you want the walkout to be on the side or in back, or in rare cases, in front.
  4. Take advantage of existing large trees to provide shade and/or privacy.
  5. Where will a future addition, deck or outbuilding go? Leave space for down-the-road projects.

These are a few of the issues to think through, perhaps with the assistance of an architect coming to the property to explore the options with you.

Here Comes the Sun

The sun and your climate have to be considered.

In a warm climate, avoiding a heavy inflow of sunlight in the afternoon/evening is wise. You might want to position the home or design it so that the kitchen, where cooking adds additional heat, and the largest windows are on the north and east.

Or you might want to place the home on the east side of a stand of trees, so they provide shade to the west side of the home.

In a moderate or cool climate, taking advantage of the sun rather than avoiding it might be desirable. The same house would be positioned differently on a lot in Michigan identical to one in Texas, for example.

The sun’s arch through the sky also affects placement of a deck or patio, outdoor kitchen, balcony, gazebo and other features where sunlight and the heat it delivers should be considered.

We’re Ready to Help

We have three basic site plan options:

Simple: Lot lines with dimensions, buildings with dimensions to property lines, street with names, north arrow indication, engineering scale (graphic and text).

Medium (Best seller): The same as the Simple Plan plus driveways, pathways, vegetation (trees, bushes), pool (where applicable).

Complex: All the above plus fences/retaining walls, parking spaces, hatches based on type of pavement (concrete, asphalt, grass, etc.), minimum setbacks according to zoning regulations (upon request), easements (where applicable), other property information (upon request).

You select a plan based on how detailed your local requirements are for a site plan and provide us with basic information about the property’s location.

We take it from there and provide with a site plan of the highest quality within 24 hours, or Monday morning for orders submitted Friday .

It’s that simple and that fast.

Every day, we help homeowners-to-be clear hurdles presented by local rules and regulations and get on with building the home they envision.

We’re ready to help you do the same.


Here’s how we can help: 24hplans has a team of highly-trained, professional architects and drafters who can prepare any kind of site plan in the shortest amount of time possible, so that you can easily obtain that building permit and get on with your project. Use the promotion code: 24hplans-20off to get a 20% discount off any package. — Please note this is a limited time offer, exclusive to the readers of our blog. This offer is not being advertised anywhere else.


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