Site plan drawings are typically drawn by architects, engineers, home builders or other professional site plan experts looking to build a home and gain a sense of how a structure fits on a plot of land.
In most cases, professionals will produce a 2D site plan and in some cases where useful 3D site plans are also made available.
There are different types of site drawings depending on your purpose and the relevant building codes they must adhere to, however, they all share common key elements. For any simple projects a DIY, 2D plot plan drawing may suffice, however it does need to include multiple basic features such as correct measurements and distances of current and/or proposed works.
Here is a basic plan checklist of features that can be broadly described as follows:
What measurements do your site plan drawings need?
- Dimensions of the property boundaries annotated on a visual representation of the shape of the property (i.e property line dimensions)
- Dimensions of any existing structure (i.e. floor plan measurements, above and in ground pool or permanent above ground swimming pools etc)
- Length and width of the new construction or addition
- Height of the proposed construction or addition
- Distances to land boundaries and/or closest distances existing structures
- Private open space
- Any other significant property features i.e trees
- Contour lines to articulate the lay of the land (not necessarily required on basic site plans, helpful for site works and site cost calculations for new builds for example)
- Surrounding roads with road names (or road descriptions for roads that do not yet have a name)
Additional essential features
- North indicator
- Scale of measurement
While a DIY drawing for small jobs may not be as detailed as that prepared by a professional who is paid to produce an accurate site plan for a living, it is still important that it be based on valid data. This means accurate measurements and clear drawings.
The following information will guide your key considerations when preparing your DIY drawing.
Make use of the available documentation
An existing site plan drawing is the best place to get exact dimensions for the property and/or existing home you are working with. Such documentation will provide you with key information such as an existing homes floor plan dimensions, height, width, distances to the nearest buildings, significant tree and structure placement, setback distances and the directional orientation of the land (ie which way is north). Driveway and sidewalk/pavement dimensions on or next to the property are found here too. These are all to be included in your DIY drawing to ensure a to-scale drawing is achieved.
For ease, you can also choose to adopt the scale of existing reference material for your DIY plan to ensure dimensions are not converted inaccurately. Some local jurisdictions and governments may require you to draw your plan to a certain scale (ie smaller or larger scales compared to your reference documentation), so check their requirements prior to starting.
Most property owners should have a property title on hand, this should include all the necessary preliminary information to prepare a site plan for your residential projects. Alternatively, you can typically acquire a plan of subdivision or existing plot plan from your local council, which will at a bare minimum provide you with the necessary boundary information to plan.
Although Graph paper is a start point, we recommend that you consider a site plan software for the task ahead.
Draw the position of utilities
It is important that you demonstrate the location of the above and underground utilities on your DIY drawing; any changes to utilities that will occur on the land need to be articulated.
Some small dwellings or improvement projects, such as garden sheds or work pods you intended to have in your garden may or may not have any utilities such as water lines; if they do, however, the utilities to these projects must be shown.
Septic tanks and water wells
If a septic tank or water well is present in the ground where a home is about to undergo construction, or construction is to take place around an existing home, the exact location of the tank or well must be pointed out on the site plan.
It is imperative that the DIY drawing include measurements of the tank or well and their distance to the house (whether such measurements are measured by you, or taken from existing documentation).
You may need to draw the existing sewer line if your home is connected to a public sewer system; this will depend on the type of plan you are drawing. For example, a drainage site plan is specifically designed to show sewer connections and the locations of pipes.
You also need to draw the sewer to your home from the main sewer line. If you are unsure where to obtain such information (or it’s not clearly outlined on the existing site plan), a sewer layout plan is an official document issued by a water corporation that contains a map of sewage lines on a property, showing the location the pipes run.
A report of this nature also includes details such as pipe material and depth below ground; this assists the construction process and ensures work around existing sewer pipes is conducted safely. Your local government may also have an interactive mapping service on their website to utilise for this information.
If changes to the water service occur as a result of your planned construction, such changes need to be documented in the DIY drawing.
Make sure you mark the location of the proposed water service connection on your site plan accurately, and retain the location markings of the existing water service connections within the property lines (as per the current site plan drawing), for comparison purposes.
Landscape and environmental features
Depending on the purpose of the site plan, you may need to include height levels on a lot. Annotations that articulate variations in height levels on land are known as contour lines. Contour lines are a graphical representation of the lay of the land, representing the degree of slope (difference between uphill and downhill) on the land.
Contour lines may be drawn in the form of downhill-pointing arrows, with ‘water runoff’ indication also provided; they are drawn on a site plan by connecting points of equal elevation (i.e. height in meters/feet, above sea level). Note these elements are typically only used in preparing site plans for site calculation and site works, for a basic site plan they can likely be omitted. If you require this information, aerial photos overlaying government data can assist you to understand the landscape feature contour lines for your property.
Proposed plan for construction/ construction lines of the property
You can include a simple sketch of your proposed construction or home addition on your DIY drawing. The drawing can be made in the same colour as the rest of the property or you can consider using a different colour for all proposed work to clearly differentiate between what is current, and what is proposed.
You should include the dimensions of the proposed construction either directly on the sketch on each side of the proposed construction, or to the side of the sketch in a data panel.
If you intend to build on top of your home or a garage, you also need to ensure you document the proposed height of the new floor you are planning to add.
Your DIY site drawing is required to demonstrate the adjacent streets and parking lots/ parking spaces.
Outlining surrounding streets not only provides context for any construction you are planning but also helps to illustrate the impact your construction design may have on traffic around the property. The context for traffic in and out of the property can be articulated on your DIY drawing with the use of arrows that demonstrate the direction of access routes for an existing or proposed driveway. Further, the direction of the traffic on the closest street can be marked with arrows: arrows in two directions illustrate 2-way streets and one arrow illustrates 1-way streets.
Parking is also a critical consideration in planning, especially if you are working within a dense residential environment, or are proposing to increase dwelling density via your construction project. If you plan to add or modify parking (and in certain circumstances, additional parking will be a planning requirement), indicate your proposed parking on your DIY drawing, including dimensions, flow of traffic and traffic access routes for vehicles.
The nearest fire hydrants should be marked on your DIY drawing. Other utilities such as manholes can also be marked on the drawing, where they are applicable.
All existing gas utilities may need to be marked on your DIY site plan. Importantly you cannot propose new gas utility lines with most planning commissions, as this requires the input of engineers in accordance with specific regulatory compliance.
Remember, not all site drawings are created equal. The information you need to include will depend on the purpose of your site plan so be sure to pick and choose the elements you require necessary to your particular situation. In some simple modifications such as building a shed you may only require a simple sketch (also known as a non-certified site plan), for larger projects you may require a complete architectural drawing.
The starting point for an acceptable site plan is understanding the current shape and dimensions of your property, so check for an existing site plan or the title of the property as this information is typically included there. Worst case scenario, get a tape measure out and do some approximations; this will provide you with at least a starting point. Alternatively, you can complete a 2D site plan diagram via our software!
Bonus pro tip
Always be sure to consult local counties or council requirements prior to commencing your construction drawing.
This will ensure your plan meets submission requirements in relation to matters such as broader building permit application and planning application requirements, building codes and demolition permit obligations, and you have an awareness of considerations such noise restrictions, traffic management and tree protection zone requirements during the construction process.