How to read a site plan

A site plan is a meticulously crafted document that accurately portrays the dimensions and layout of a building site to scale. Typically, two types of site plans are provided:

  1. Existing site plan: This depicts the current state of the site, serving as a ‘before’ snapshot.
  2. Proposed site plan: This showcases planned changes and illustrates how the site will appear post-construction, serving as an ‘after’ snapshot.

What’s Included in a Site Plan?

A site plan aims to convey several key elements:

  • Site shape and size, represented to scale.
  • Orientation, indicating the direction of north.
  • Geographical location of the site.
  • Precise positioning of features like trees or rocks.
  • Elevation changes, depicted through contour lines.
  • Coverage area for the proposed structures.
  • Easements, driveways, stormwater drainage, etc.
  • Location and footprint of existing structures.
  • Pertinent features in the vicinity affecting access or construction.

Understanding the Title Block:

A site plan typically incorporates a ‘title block,’ essential for administrative details. Positioned usually in the bottom right or top right corner, it includes:

  • Title or name of the drawing.
  • Drawing or revision number.
  • Signatures, initials, and dates.

Deciphering Symbols and Figures:

While much of a site plan’s content may be self-explanatory, intricate details can elude the untrained eye. Every symbol, line thickness, abbreviation, and marking holds significance, conveying specific site information.

Considerations for Orientation and Scale:

All plans should indicate a north point for orientation consistency across diagrams. Scale, typically expressed as a ratio (e.g., 1:100), along with a graphical representation, helps convey sizes and distances accurately.

Utilizing Callouts and Cross-References:

Site plans may include callouts and cross-references for additional detail or alternative perspectives. These references, varying in type, serve to enhance understanding and may be accompanied by sequence numbers to identify specific details or drawings.