3 Examples When An Exterior Home Remodeling Requires a Site Plan

Are Site Plans Required For Exterior Home Remodeling?

Screened Porch Site Plan

An example of a site plan for a screened porch, showing the existing home, new porch, exterior deck, pool area, and concrete pool deck.

When you're undertaking a home remodeling project, there are specific plans and drawings that you will see from your contractor. If it's new construction, you'll probably go over blueprints with your contractor which show your homes interior and exterior elevations and designs. If your remodeling the interior of your home, you'll receive a floor plan which will show everything that is going on inside your home.

When you're planning an exterior home remodeling project, your contractor may need to prepare a site plan for certain types of exterior projects. Let's take a look at what exactly a site plan is, three examples of exterior home remodeling projects that need one, how it's used and why its important as the first step in the exterior home remodeling process.

What is a Site Plan?

Some property and exterior home remodeling projects can result in significant changes to your home's exterior and your outdoor space including the footprint of your home, drainage, landscaping, and backyard. When you're working with an architect, contractor or design-build-remodeling firm, and significant changes are being made; the process normally starts with a plan.

Known as a site plan (or plot plan) it is a readable map or diagram showing a detailed depiction of your property including where structures sit on the property along with landscape topography. It will show features like an in-ground swimming pool, patios, large trees, rocks, fences and utility poles. Whenever any changes are made to your property, your site plan should be updated. A residential site plan depicts everything within the property lines.

3 Examples Of Exterior Projects That Need A Site Plan

Porch Addition Site Plan

This site plan shows area calculations for a project with two additions: a front porch addition and a rear 3-season room addition with a deck above it. A stamped concrete fire pit and patio is also included.

Major exterior remodeling projects will go much smoother if you have a solid plan in place before work begins. Most municipalities require that a building permit is pulled from the local building department before work starts.

For many exterior projects, a site plan is required to be granted a building permit. Having a solid plan in place when you approach your local officials can make the permitting process significantly less painful, less costly and less time-consuming.

Here are three examples of exterior home improvement projects where a site plan is required.

• Adding Outdoor Living Space, Deck, Porch or Patio

Having a site plan when adding a deck is highly beneficial and required by most municipal zoning codes. It can help you to understand not just where the deck or patio will sit on your property and the new perimeter it will define, but it can help you to understand how the space will work in relation to your property. Depending on setbacks and local codes, a site plan may be necessary to obtain permitting and to demonstrate that your new space will meet existing codes and laws.

• Changing Your Home's Existing Roof Line

If you are adding a covered porch or even extending overhangs, changing the roofline on your home requires more than just hiring a contractor. You may need designers, engineers, and builders to carry out this major exterior project. Adding a new truss system, changing a flat roof to a peaked roof, or adding a dormer falls under the umbrella of a major upgrade and will require plenty of paperwork to obtain the proper permits. This includes a layout of the existing floor plan, a draft or rendering of the proposed new floor plan, and a property site plan, because municipal zoning ordinances also cover height restrictions.

• Underground Work - Upgrading To A Geothermal Heat System or Replacing a Septic System

New Home Site Plan

This new home site plan, completed by a licensed surveyor, shows critical markings such as wetland setbacks, septic and mound system drain fields, and the exact location of the house. Note that the exact well location need not be officially notated and has been drawn in by hand in this site plan.

As we all strive to lower our environmental footprint, geothermal heating is a great way to supplement your home's heating and cooling efficiency. This can lower your energy use, and many states offer rebates or tax incentives to upgrade to geothermal. A geothermal system consists of burying pipes several feet underground where the earth maintains a consistent temperature. The pipes are filled with water which provides a stable heated energy feed into your home reducing your energy costs.

A site plan is not only needed to obtain the necessary permits; it will show that the holes will not interfere with other underground items like utility lines and show that the pumps and pipes are adequately spaced.

Why A Site Plan Is Important For Exterior Home Remodeling Projects

While many local building departments will need a site plan to obtain a permit for specific exterior home improvements, sometimes it is not required, but it's still a good idea to have one created as part of the planning process. Here are some examples where it is a good idea to create a site plan:

  • any construction that will permanently alter your homes exterior or landscape like a shed or fencing
  • any landscaping projects that modify your yard including removing trees or changing elevations
  • any major renovations like adding new rooms or renovating attics and garage spaces into livable space
  • adding a patio, deck, balcony, or sunroom
  • adding solar panels to your homes roof

While it may not be necessary for permitting or legal compliance, as a homeowner, it's a good record of the features of your property and can serve as a planning tool for future projects and improvements. It is also a great document to have on hand for prospective buyers if you ever choose to sell your home. If you have questions about site plans, construction permits or remodeling your home, contact the experts at Degnan Design-Build-Remodel.

This article was updated by Abe Degnan on 8/1/2018.

About Degnan Design Build Remodel
Since 1981 Degnan Design Build Remodel has provided home improvement and construction services to customers throughout Greater Madison, Wisconsin. Our goal is to WOW you with a "Designed For Your Life" solution using a process that will transform your home into a beautiful living space, delivered on time, and on budget. We are known for our communication, respectfulness, and a commitment to our customers and our community. Contact us to speak with one of our designers about your home improvement project.