10 Rules of Successful Land Development Design
Land Development Design
1. Validate plans using master’s engineering.
Even the most well-designed development plans require engineering adjustments. Master engineering can make it difficult to build plans that look ready for platting. Master engineering is the validation of the feasibility of a plan. It also incorporates infrastructure (sewer water, transportation, and storm sewer), gas, electricity, telephone, and fiber), earthwork, grading, lot configurations (lot width), trails, and other amenities. Master plans can look beautiful on paper, but they don’t take into account the engineering issues. A good land developer engineer will work closely with the master plan and tweak and revise it as needed to improve infrastructure and cost-efficiency.
Small adjustments can make a big difference in your return on investment (ROI). For easy measurement, try out the area calculator.
2. Listen actively to the land.
Pay attention to the land and take in the surrounding area before you begin to envision what your new additions will do. You can walk the entire property. Although it may seem old-school, this will pay off in the long term.
We walk every site in every development with the owner. It’s amazing how often we spot small details that can be useful or costly. Use the land area calculator for various shape area measurements.
3. Make the most of your space.
You can find ways to make the design more efficient. Sometimes designs are efficient, but they can be cluttered with waste. These are just three examples of common problems:
Your enemy is the intersection. They occupy space that could have been used for development and are expensive. They also don’t add safety or decrease travel time, especially for single-family developments.
Storm management is not being properly integrated. Stormwater management is more important than ever as the intensity of rains is increasing. Stormwater management can be integrated into master planning early to reduce overall costs and increase ROI.
4. Prioritize your team and be clear about all roles and responsibilities.
People. Successful land development is dependent on the success of its people. You can almost guarantee success if you put the right people in the right positions on the right projects. However, even the most talented teams won’t be enough without clear roles and integrated communication.
Attention to the market. Even the most talented people can’t alter market conditions. As they have different priorities, make sure that the contractor, developer, and city officials are all in sync. A better understanding of the perspectives of other parties will allow for a smoother project. Each of these factors is crucial in executing your projects.
5. Design from the inside out.
This is the low-hanging tree! Stormwater management and earthwork (grading), are the two most important areas that can influence development costs. Start with the homes for single-family or multi-family developments. Start by designing the back yards that connect to the property boundary and the front yards that connect to the street. This will reduce the need to move dirt, and help manage stormwater. Iterative earthwork/grading is a process. A design may have multiple iterations. This balances and decreases grading, thereby reducing costs by up to 20%
6. Streets can be saved for the last.
It is easy to make a mistake when you start with street design. Many municipal engineers design the street layout and then place the houses around it. The success of land developers relies on happy users. They design your homes first, then save the streets. By doing this, you can keep the focus on those who will be most affected by your design.
This allows us to increase the number and quality of lots per acre while increasing the green space. It creates a more liveable and welcoming neighborhood. Although it may sound counterintuitive, the process is actually quite simple. You can reduce the length of your street while increasing density or green space.
7. Topography is important.
Engineers have a saying that “stuff doesn’t run uphill.” A design that appears efficient for the first phase may not work well for future phases. Topographic maps are crucial for understanding the geologic and hydrologic characteristics of a property. Combining topographic maps with assessment photos can help you to determine how the property has changed over time.
You don’t have to be afraid to use new technology to maximize your space. Drones are a great way to see every inch of your property. Three-dimensional mapping technology allows you to see the property from a different perspective. It also helps you ensure that your buildings are in the correct place. Drone photography is also a great way to market the neighborhood’s amenities.
8. Use the holistic approach.
You can integrate stormwater, for example, by turning stormwater conveyance into facilities and minimizing piping. Plan for pedestrian flow to connect residents with features and destinations. Your lots should be laid out to maximize views. It is important to not block views from another home. This will reduce the enjoyment of the area.
All of it should be a complete whole. You should be able to see the forest through all the trees. Sometimes adjustments are necessary. You might consider adding trails, parks, and other shared elements. Feeling part of a community is important for people. Visualizations can be used to enable people to see your development before they become residents. It is a great way to attract buyers and build trust and buy-in. Even detractors can be converted into supporters by visualizing the space.
9. Get creative.
Routines can be a great way to save time and help you get a project completed quickly. We must remember to think outside of the box. Each land development has its own unique challenges. These nuances can be missed opportunities to improve ROI and change the status quo. When selecting products or projects, consider the following: Community amenities like pools, party rooms, playgrounds, etc. may be the perfect way to attract potential buyers.
Fido is important. The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that nearly 40% of homeowners own dogs. Make sure there are places for dogs to play and walk. To create a sense of community, consider creating areas for dogs in the vicinity of dog amenities. Senior citizens may want to have snow removal and lawn care services. These may have an impact on design. What impact does this have on the sustainability and operation of the project?
10. Flexibility is key; be aware of the market and your product.
Even the best-laid plans will not be perfect. Engineers, for instance, are problem solvers by design. Listen to the market. Are you seeing a trend in housing to build homes with no stairs or at least three-stall garages? How are you going to close the gap between supply and demand? Are we moving to a new way of thinking for buyers and renters?
Each of these factors will impact your design. You can share market data with your project team and keep an eye on the trends concerning your product and people. Everyone is on the same page which helps projects move forward more efficiently.