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New home buyers usually have a mental picture of
what their new house will look like. They spend time going over the
house plans with their builder, making small changes to make sure
everything is perfect. Attention should also be given to your new
property outside of the house.
In most areas, a lot-grading plan is required to
get a building permit. This drawing shows your property, its
dimensions, the proposed location of your new house, and how the
ground around your house will slope. It may also show things like
swales, fences, and easements. Your builder may arrange for the
drawing to be done, but you should let them know that you want to
approve it, because once the lot grading plan has been approved,
changing it is a difficult process.
It's important to know that there is a difference
between a survey
plan (legal plan) and a lot-grading plan (site plan). Aside from
some legal differences, the lot-grading plan shows more information
than the legal survey, which basically shows property dimensions and
bearings. This article concentrates on lot grading plans.
Many people have trouble picturing what the final
grading will look like when it's finished. Selecting a professional
who will help you through the process is a very good idea. Among
other methods, they can show you other lots that are similar to how
your finished lot will look.
It is wise for you to ask for any items in the
boulevard to be shown. The municipality does not usually require
this, but you don't want to be surprised by a street light right
beside your driveway entrance. Remember, many lots are sold in
partially finished subdivisions, so some things may be added in front
of your house even after you move in. Reduced forms of the
subdivision drawings are usually attached to the subdivision
agreement that is filed at the registry office. This document is
available for the public to review, usually for a small cost. Full
sized versions are often split between the municipality's engineering
department and the hydro company, but you can ask the person creating
your lot grading plan to get that information and show it on the lot
grading plan. You may find that the house you would like doesn't
suit the lot you have selected.
Some people also wish to have their central air
units and hydro and gas meters hidden from view. These items can be
shown on the site plan to give you an idea of their visibility from
There are four main items that you should look
for: steep slopes in locations that would prevent the enjoyment of
your yards (retaining walls are sometimes a suitable replacement for
steep slopes); fences in locations dictated by the subdivision
drawings; easements that might prohibit the use of land for
structures; and swales. You may also want to find out where rain
that falls on your yard goes.
Swales are depressions in the ground. Much like
the opposite of the crest of a wave they are named after, they form a
trough. Swales, which resemble small open ditches, help transfer
water away from your property. They normally follow a property line
and you may have one in your back yard or side yard. Swales
typically drain a number of yards. It is important that you don't
fill in or block the flow of water in a swale, since you would create
flooding in your neighbour's yard. If your neighbor's yard floods,
sooner or later, yours will too. The location of sheds and gardens
shouldn't interfere with swales.
The site plan will also show the source of your
drinking water and where your sewage is going. Often these items
have more impact in rural areas where things like wells and septic
beds can affect the placement of buildings.
Many municipalities hold a grading deposit to
ensure that the lot-grading plan is followed. They also usually have
the legal right to re-grade your property to match the approved
lot-grading plan if you've made unapproved changes. However, they
rarely follow this route unless a problem is brought to their
attention and damage to another property is expected to be major.
Understanding how your property is going to look
before it is built will ensure that the final product does not
surprise you. It also means that you're following some good advice -
get it in writing. Time spent in planning before construction starts
will help ensure you're able to enjoy your property to the fullest.
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