Planning a commercial build – the art of not zoning out By: DuoBuilding

August 23, 2017
Renovation Planning

You are thinking about renovating or building a commercial property. Bravo. Whatever the project, it will add value to your business and community.

In order to ensure that your renovation or new build runs as smoothly and cost-efficiently as possible, lining up a recommended and trusted commercial realtor and design-build contractor is a must. Together they will guide you through the complex planning process.

You will also need to block out at least a year for the planning stage, depending on the size of your project.

This may seem like a long window, but it is essential to accommodate the various municipal approval steps – no matter if you are renovating an existing space or building a new one.

Step One – Land use verification

The first step is to verify that the city will permit your project. Brace yourself. This can get complicated. The official zoning plan may give your proposed project a green light, but the most current zoning plan may not. Confused? Here’s why. In zoning, there are two main divisions: what the official plan allocates for zoning – what has been done in the past – and what city planners anticipate will look like down the road.

If the past and anticipated zoning plans are at odds with one another, and you find yourself caught in the middle, you will need to apply for rezoning to match your requirements. This is why it’s important to schedule at least a year for planning – sometimes more. It can take up to six weeks to meet with someone at city hall. Rezoning alone takes a minimum of nine months, and this involves public meetings and approval from city council.

Your project may meet with zoning, but if you bought property that does not comply with regulations, you will also have to find ways to address this. If the variances are too wide, you’re project will face significant difficulties. When planning a new build, the best case scenario is to line up the zoning first and purchase the property later.

Typically the variances are manageable. For example, if your project cannot accommodate required parking on site, a minor variance for the parking deficiency can be applied for and will have a good chance for approval.

Note that several departments will review your application: engineering, traffic, forestry, historical, zoning, site planning to name a few.  There are a lot of nuances, specifically as it relates to the type of commercial property you want to build or renovate. This is when a design-build contractor that has experience working on projects similar to yours comes in handy!

Step Two – Parking verification

Once you settle the zoning requirements, you will need to demonstrate that your business will have   enough parking to accommodate your clients. Again, you may be able to make the case that adequate parking is available nearby and solve the parking count with a minor variance.

Once rezoning is complete, the next step is refining the details of your site plan.

Step Three – Site Plan Approval

Drawings are required at all stages throughout the process. You will need to prove that your site plan fits with what you want on the property and complies with regulations. The building’s height, building code stipulations and utility needs will be examined here.

Contractors that offer design and construction services provide clients with a turn-key approach, to help ensure a cost-effective and efficient process. For example, they will ensure from the get-go that the architectural plans meet with your budget.

Parting words

When preparing for a commercial renovation or new build, plan at least a year in advance, confirm zoning before you purchase, and hire experienced and trusted professionals to help streamline the process to save time and money.

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