Your customers have settled on the design of their new home, selected the colors and options for that new home, and you’re ready to begin construction. But have they signed off on the plot map? If you’re new to the home building industry, whether you’re a custom home builder or on-your-lot builder, it’s important to understand what a plot plan is and the important information you (and the home buyer) will need to know about the lot.
“What’s a plot plan - and - why should I care?”
Quite simply, a plot plan is just the “official term” for a map of your lot—showing where the house will be located on that lot. It is a required document when submitting a building permit.
And, while it may seem like there’s only so many places to put the house on the lot (especially in modern Developments), the plot plan tells you a lot of really important information.
- Lets you know what you can (or can’t) do in the future
- Helps ensure you’re on the right lot
- Points out other important information
This article will show you a very simple plot plan, and describe the basics of what you will want to know - so you can confidently discuss it with your home builder.
1 - Street Name(s)
One of the most obvious features about a plot plan is simply the street name on which your new home sits. If you happen to be looking at a plot plan that has a different street name than where you thought, you might want to speak up! It’s rare that an error like this is made, but it’s still possible.
If your lot happens to be on a corner where two streets connect, you should be able to see both street names. Depending on the municipality and/or postal service, it may be possible to choose which street name becomes your official address (or which way your new home may face). Ask your home builder what options exist.
2 - Direction the Lot Sits
See that big arrow in the lower left corner of the plot plan image above? That's simply pointing out which way is North on the plot plan.
Why might this be important to you?
You may want the front of your house to have southern exposure (which is really nice if you live in a cold climate and you want the sun to help melt the snow in the Winter - or - if you love hanging out on your deck/patio and don't want direct sunlight in the later afternoon.
3 - Lot Dimensions
If you look at the outside lines of the lot on the plot plan. You'll see the length and width of your lots shown in linear foot pretty easily. This will let you know what size the lot is.
Keep the lot dimensions handy for future use - in case you are looking to get a quote on something like a fence that would run along parts of the perimeter of your lot in the future. It's nice to have that handy so you don't get quoted for 120' of fence when you only have 100' on your plan.
4 - Elevation/Slopes; Scaled Dimensions (powerpoint slide 6)
Every plot plan includes a scale for proper measurement. Just look for the scale and you'll know how to make the conversion to measure. This just allows you to ensure the house will fit on the lot - and - is important to know what else might fit (think: future swimming pool, etc.)
5 - Size/Acreage of Lot
Typically, right in the center of the lot on the plot plan, you'll see the size of the lot you are purchasing. Often, you'll see both the square foot of the lot - and - the acreage.
Knowing the size/acreage of your lot can be important if your local government has restrictions on how much of that lot can be used up with house, driveway, sidewalks, patios, pools, etc. Known as "impervious coverage," many local governments put a "cap" on what can be added to an individual lot.
6 - Building Setbacks
There are restrictions on every lot that will limit where the house can be placed. These are known as Building Setbacks and are usually parallel to the property lines. Every municipality and/or location is specific so the building setbacks will be shown on your individual plot plan and can't typically be changed. Building setbacks are established for a number of reasons:
- Establish a "standard" for where the fronts of houses are set - so that there is a uniformity among the homes. The front of the house are known as Front Yard Setbacks.
- Rear Yard Setbacks, on the other hand, show how far off the rear property line that the house (or other structures/pools/etc.) must be. Again, this is to make sure you have room between your structures and your neighbors
- The building setbacks to each side of the house are known as your Side Yard Setbacks. Depending on your lot, these can also change from zero (think either side-by-side townhouses or duplexes that straddle a property line) to a number set by the local government.
7 - Driveway Location and Size
Once the house is drawn on the plot plan, the location and size of the driveway is also shown. The driveway size is calculated in that impervious coverage. While the driveway may look good, and fit on the plot plan, it may not be practical in reality. The home buyer could end doing a three-point turn to get into the garage or if it’s too close to an intersection that increases the likelihood of an accident. These situations can result in inconveniencing the home owner and impact resale based on an unusual layout.
8 - Easements and Rights-of-Way
Most every lot has areas called Easements and Rights-of-Way. These two areas on the lot that may allow others to legally enter and/or do work on your property and/or may limit you to building or adding things to your lot. While that may seem discomforting and/or illegal, these areas allow for utility companies and municipalities to do necessary additional work around the property.
9 - Lot Number, Parcel (Tax ID) Number
Typically, in the middle of the lot of the plot plan, you may see one (or both) of these numbers. These are important for permits and codes are enforced.
The Lot Number. Residential Developers number their lots as they create the development.
The Parcel (or Tax ID) Number. The parcel number is set by the local governing body and is used when it comes to receiving your property taxes in the future.
10 - Encroachments
Encroachments are things that might end up on your lot but aren't yours (and shouldn't be on your lot).
An example of an existing stone wall is shown on the picture. While it doesn't encroach on this lot, the plot plan shows that it exists.
If an encroachment does exist, it may require an awkward conversation with your soon-to-be new neighbor. I'd suggest asking your home builder to have this discussion with an encroaching neighbor (if the Builder owns the lot). It just makes for a less awkward way for you to meet your new neighbor.
Knowing these 10 things about your plot plan will go a long way to give your buyers an understanding of their future home site - and - what can (and can't) do