Armchair Builder

Plot Plan: How to Build a Home, Step 17


Sample Plot Plan

Sample Plot Plan


The engineered plot plan allows us to build quality, trouble-free homes.  They are used throughout the construction process to ensure local zoning requirements are met and to help the lot drain properly.  When done correctly, a plot plan is created that will minimize the cost of construction and the potential for basement moisture.  In this article we cover step 17 in our How to Build a Home blog series.

Civil Engineer Creates Plot Plan

Your civil engineer will help you create the plot plan for your new dream home.  This person has knowledge of local codes and restrictions to make sure your new home exceeds all requirements.  The engineered plot plan is designed for your specific house plan and lot to make sure they compliment each other.  Here are some of the things the civil engineer can do to hep you…

  • Design & Draw Plot Plan
  • Verify house will meet local zoning requirements
  • Dirt Balance – Perform a dirt calculation to determine if dirt will need to be hauled onto or off of your site

Elements of a Quality Plot Plan

  • Drainage – Shows how water will drain off of the property including any yard drains or swales.
  • Driveway – Minimize the slope on the driveway in cold weather climates to prevent dangerous conditions in icy weather;  locates driveway as far away from intersections for corner lots;  locates driveway away from utilities to allow for future access (without removing the driveway).
  • Utilities – Indicate utility locations on the plot plan, showing electric, water, and sewer.
  • House Location – Place the house on the lot to maximize natural lighting, meet zoning requirements and minimize costs to build by setting the elevation of the house correctly to minimize earth movement.
  • Easements – Shows locations on the lot that cannot be built on since future access may be needed for utilility repairs.
  • Lot Lines – Indicates lot lines for reference by the homeowner or contractors.  If you need info about choosing a lot for your dream home, check out our video, Choosing a Lot or Land.
  • Setback Lines – Shows restrictions for building by indicating zoning setback lines.

Uses for Plot Plan

  • Permit – Most municipalities require these to be submitted with the permit application.
  • Surveyor – The surveyor references the plot plan when staking the lot.
  • Excavation Contractor – The excavation contractor will references the plot plan when digging to set the house elevation (dig depth) and location.
  • Foundation Contractor – The foundation contractor references the plot plan when setting the footing and foundation forms.
  • Grading Contractor – The grading contractor uses grade details to set the rough and final grade.
  • Landscaper – The landscaping contractor uses the plot plan when creating the landscape design for plants, trees, beds and shrubs to minimize impact on the drainage of the lot.
  • Homeowner – You keep your plot plan to review for future projects like decks, fences, additions…etc.


As with any other product or service out there, prices will vary based on your location, project size, and requirements.  However, the average residential plot plan designed by a professional engineer ranges anywhere from $600 to $1500.  Don’t underestimate the value of having a very detailed set of engineered plans for your dream home.  They will be used extensively throughout the process to ensure your new property drains properly while minimizing construction costs.  We have a great resource for helping you purchase the lot to build your dream home on.  Check out our Lot Purchase Guide for some builder tips and secrets for getting the best deal on your home site.

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