So you’ve purchased a property and are looking to get it renovated as soon as possible – don’t think for a minute that this is going to be a quick process! There are many procedures involved and multiple approvals required to complete a successful new build or renovation.
Zoning is the first step in the development or re-development process, so do your research early. Some jurisdictions require a Zoning permit to be applied for and issued before building plans can even be submitted, while others offer simultaneous building + zoning reviews. Each jurisdiction is different. Zoning codes essentially regulate how a piece of land can be used and what type of businesses can occupy the existing or future structures on the land. They regulate things like floor area ratio (FAR), which is the amount of building square footage compared to the site square footage – this helps to control height and density. Zoning codes regulate the number parking spaces and the location of parking, the setback distances on each side of the property, and requirements for things like bulk planes, building transparency, entrances, access, etc. There are also special districts to be aware of such as a Historical District or a Design District, which come with their own set of regulations. Each City/County has different zoning requirements, but it’s safe to say that most of them regulate the same general aspects of a property. Zoning documents are available online, and most jurisdictions have interactive maps to help you determine your property’s zone district.
Then there’s a site development plan process which is for projects that are disturbing a certain portion of land or doing major building modifications that will affect storm sewer, water detention requirements, or fire truck access. This process starts with a pre-application meeting to review the general scope of work. This initial meeting provides an opportunity for all departments within a City to get eyes on your project, including stormwater, utilities, planning, fire department, etc. The comments received from these departments set the stage for what documents will need to be submitted as part of the site development plan package. Jurisdictions typically provide a timeline on their website that breaks down the process showing required review time cycles. The site development plan process will take many months to get through. The choice to move forward on developing building plans while the site development plan process is ongoing is a decision that needs to be made by the developer/owner. Here are a few links to zoning documents/maps in surrounding jurisdictions:
Once you’ve gotten through the Zoning department and possibly submitted a site development plan, it’s time to prepare and submit plans to the building department. Each jurisdiction adopts a version of the International Building Code (IBC) and International Residential Code (IRC) for their use. They then have the authority to alter the selected code and provide a set of amendments to follow while designing in that jurisdiction. Don’t forget to look for those amendments! Sometimes they can provide flexibility, but other times, they can be more restrictive – either way, they are requirements that will need to be followed.
Once construction documents have been completed, they need to be signed, stamped and submitted to the building department. Several jurisdictions are now accepting electronic submittals which can be incredibly helpful, yet the requirements can vary, so do your homework. Did you know that there are businesses that specialize in expediting permits? Depending on your project, this may be a feasible option. They take care of the whole permitting process and only involve you when necessary.
We understand that financing is a crucial part of the construction and that financing comes with certain terms regarding the schedule. To receive that financing, you’ve got to push the limits. We understand that and want to be there to help with the process, but it takes time. As a group of people who have professional experience in a wide variety of project types, we like to try to educate our clients on how long these processes can take. Our ultimate job is to provide our clients with the combined experience of our whole team. It’s about knowing what to expect before you begin the development or re-development process. If you have a piece of land that you’re not sure what to do with, we can help! We can research for you and develop a feasibility study that provides you with options. Sound good? Reach out! 303.670.7242 or firstname.lastname@example.org