(Site Plan, Grading Plan, Demolition Plan and a narrative describing the anticipated scope on storm water, utilities, SWPPP and permitting are standard deliverables during schematic phase)


Get the updated schedule for all remaining prints from the architect

Notify all of our sub-consultants of the revised schedule

Get the updated baseplans and titleblock from the architect

Send the updated baseplans to our subconsultants when they are received


Upon receiving approval to proceed with schematic design from the owner/architect, check for conceptual plan markups and comments to start on to set the site plan.

At the schematic level we would generally have a survey completed to use as our design base.  Check this survey against the AIA/EJCDC agreement defining survey scope.  Mark up the survey for discrepancies or deficiencies against the agreed scope and set a time to receive the final revised and sealed versions.

Also use the Survey Review Checklist to make sure all of those items are covered.  These items must also be included in the AIA or ELCDC contract to be enforceable.

Meet with the owner/architect to determine whether the scope they expected to see based on the conceptual meeting was presented accurately in the conceptual site plan.  Would they like to change or add anything to that due to change in the building, budget or pricing?

Verify FFE, as selected in the conceptual phase, is still appropriate and that there weren't changes during conceptual review to any of the other elements that might impact it like ADA parking, Storm structures, etc... 

If rezoning is required, begin process of meetings with the planning department to determine the best zone for the project.  Include surveyor in meetings as they will be producing the drawings associated with this many times.  Begin process to get on the earliest planning commission agenda possible as this is usually a 4-6 month process with no objections by staff or the community.  It can be much more painful and lengthy if there are objections.

If a lot consolidation is required, begin the meetings with planning to discuss the parcels you want to put together and how that will work with the zoning of the tracts.  This process is not usually as lengthy as rezoning.  If both replatting and rezoning are needed they should both be done concurrently.  If replatting, begin the process at this point just to make sure it’s done in time.  By itself, it’s usually only a 2 month process.

Check all of the conceptual site table items to make sure they are still ok as the SD site plan is developed.  Add a Site Data Table to every SD site plan that will remain on the plans through the duration of the project.  This table needs to include:  Owner, Project Name, Engineer of Record, Map Number, Parcel Number, Street Address, Total Site Acreage, Zoning of Tract, Impervious Surface Ratio (ISR - ratio of all impervious areas on site/total site square footage), Floor Area Ratio (FAR - ratio of total building square footage/total site square footage), Code Required Parking and ADA Required Parking (Show Equations), Parking Provided (Standard, Accessible).  One of every 8 accessible spaces must be van accessible with a 96" aisle beside it.

Check all accessible areas to make sure they are compliant with the applicable city, state and/or federal code.  Make sure all slopes are less than 2% (Use 1.8% in design to have some buffer) in accessible areas except along lengths of sidewalk where the running slope may be anything less than 5% (Use 4.5% in design to have some buffer).  If a ramp is used it must have a 5x5 landing every 30 feet and can be up to 8.33% (Use 8% in design to have some buffer) running slope.  Ramps must also have a small lip (curb) under the railing on both sides to define the edge of the path.  Cross slopes in all accessible areas must be less than 2% (Use 1.8% in design to have some buffer) always.  Remember that site stairs must also comply with accessible standards with railings, rise and run.  Verify truncated domes are used on all accessible areas that are flush with a vehicular area.  They must be at least 3' deep.  Florida uses exposed aggregate or strips instead of truncated domes.  All truncated domes must be colored so they contrast visually with the surrounding walks.  Be sure to ask the architect/owner if they would like for us to check the whole site for compliance.  Many times it’s actually easier to fix the whole site than it is to do multiple smaller projects over a period of time.  This is extra scope though and will need to be covered in the proposal.  In Texas, all design plans will have to be submitted and approved by a TAS approved reviewer before construction.  Many of our clients don't know this.  We have to tell them.  Chris Schexnayder is our consultant in Texas that does this.  His contact info is in Notes.  If you have a question anywhere else, Barry Bonifay is our "guru".  Feel free to call and ask him simple questions.  If he does any drawings, though, he will bill us.  So be careful.

Watch out for: building setbacks, screening, buffer, greenway, easements, ROW's 

If a traffic study is required, it should be kicked off in this phase.  If improvements to a public roadway (accel, decel, median cut) are required, the extents of those need to be shown accurately on the SD's based on the permitting authorities instructions.  The extents of accel/decel lanes are usually tied to the speed limit and classification of the road.  Don't assume a length for these.  Find out what the DOT requires.

Make sure parking is no closer than 10' from the building.  Make islands between parallel parking bays at least 10' wide.

Provide an accessible sidewalk to the frontage if there is anyway to do so.  

Use a minimum of 15' turning radii into parking bays from main drives.  Use a minimum inside turning radius of 25' on drives.  Use a minimum inside turning radius of 45' for loop roads and AE sites.  Run Autoturn on all vehicle types to make sure they will be able to traverse the site easily (ie. passenger cars through drop off lanes, garbage trucks through drives to the dumpster, semis to loading, MRI trucks to MRI pad, Fire trucks to all drives beside building).

Make sure to provide a place for a dumpster (check city screening requirements).  Dumpster pad and loading area for truck need to be HD Concrete.  If hospital, check need for a compactor (get dimensions and loading procedure for correct placement).

If hospital, ask if any mobile units (mri, petscan, lithotriptor).  Get turning radii, concrete pad dimensions from architect.

Include a flagpole.

Check if there needs to be a dock (is it at grade or 3 or 4' high)

Ask for locations of future building expansions to make sure to keep loop roads and other site elements out of there way if at all possible.

Find out if a loop road is required for fire or owner use.  We recommend one if no guidance is given.

Keep the ambulance traffic and other traffic as separated as possible on drives coming in from main road.

Place concrete under all canopies and in accessible parking spots.

All drop off areas should be flush between the drives and walks adjacent to them.  Specifically locate points for curb transitions from 6" to flush and show detail callouts appropriately.

Ask if there are special requests for parking areas for staff, visitors, expectant mothers, doctors, clergy, emergency, other)

Ask if a helipad is desired.  If so, find out if FAA or state guidelines apply.  If not, we design as close to FAA as feasible without the permitting process.  Have helipad as close to ER as possible.  Most helipads need sidewalk and vehicle access through the gate.  Make sure there are plantings or other screening mechanisms in place between helipad and nearby parking to protect vehicles from windblown damage.

Think about where the mechanical room will be and the route of the utilities coming to it from the public mains.  Leave enough room in islands and grass areas to run all of the needed utilities with appropriate separations between them.

Verify with MPE what the spacing between utility pads and other utility pads, building and parking needs to be. 

Verify no dead-end drives over 50' without 50' inside radius turnaround for fire trucks.  Fire trucks need 20' of width for two-way drives without parking, 24 where there is parking and 25 where they will put their outriggers down beside building.  No portion of the first floor of the building should be further than 150 feet from a fire department access road.  At least one fire access drive should extend to within 50' of an exterior door leading to the interior of the building.  All one way drives should be no less than 15' wide. 

Use curb and gutter as standard on all sites until asked to VE.  Match existing curb type as next option.  Occasionally the architect will ask to only use curbs around the building to limit cost.  This needs to be worked out as soon as possible as it affects the drainage design.  If curbs are not used where islands are present, use wheel stops to keep cars out of islands.

Make sure traffic flow arrows and stop bars are shown at all intersections.  If painted crosswalks are used, they should be on the intersection side of the stop bar.

Show benchmarks from the survey in bold on every sheet of the plans.

When reviewing the sd site plan, review the notes in the legend, match the site note and detail callouts in the legend to those in the plan, match the site detail callout with the detail sheets, make sure updated titleblock is used, make sure correct engineer of record and state are shown, make sure updated baseplan is shown, make sure survey is on top, make sure building is dimensioned from at least two corners to the property lines, unless building is an addition connected to another building, make sure adequate dimensions are shown for a contractor without CAD to layout the site.   

Make sure all asphalt and concrete pavement sections are correctly marked up from geotech recommendations for thickness, base material, compactions, type, strength, reinforcing, lime stabilization


The finished floor elevation should be selected and communicated to the team during this phase.    

Verify slopes are no steeper than 3:1 unless the geotechnical report specifically says that steeper is allowable due to the cohesive soils.

Ask the architect which doors need accessible paths to them.  Verify accessible areas are less than 2% (Use 1.8% in all design for some buffer) in all directions except along the running slope of a stand alone sidewalk.   Verify detectable warning strips are shown at all flush conditions between an accessible way and a vehicular way.  Detectable warnings are truncated domes everywhere except Florida.  They have their own versions.  There should be a flush drop-off at the main entrance where the drive area is also less than 2% (Use 1.8% in all design for some buffer) in every direction.

Make sure that the ground around the building is 8-10" below the finished floor except at door thresholds.

Make sure that all areas around the building perimeter slope away from the building at a minimum of 2%.  This may mean you have to add an inlet and a low area near the building to accomplish this.  Never slope grades toward the building wall.

We use segmental retaining walls on any site walls unless specifically requested not to.  We note the length of these and for the contractor to submit shop drawings for the design of these for our review.  Make sure you have room for fabric laybacks behind the wall without getting into an existing area to remain or a building pad.  Always leave room for a swale behind the top of the wall to keep water from running over top of wall.  Make sure all bends and major grade breaks are spotted on the walls at toe, top wall, and ground behind wall.  Wall should be 6" to 1 foot above ground elevation behind it.  Make sure you draw pedestrian guardrail along the entire length of the retaining wall.

If a concrete wall is used, we do not design these.  Coordinate with the structural on the height, length and location needed so they can show a typical section for these.  If the building needs to be used as a retaining wall, alert the structural to the length and height of wall.

Make sure all index contours all labeled sufficiently.  Label other contours as needed to dispel confusion about high/low points.

Do not grade over the property lines.  If you do, you have to have lawyers draw up a temporary grading easement between the property owners.  In the ROW, you have to obtain an encroachment permit from the DOT.

Keep slopes in parking areas under 5% if at all possible.  Drives without parking can be up to 8% comfortably.

Put spot elevations at every corner of the building and every corner of the parking lot except for accessible areas shown on the enlarged plan.

Any stoops, walks or walls with more than 6" drop off the side need a pedestrian guardrail.

Any open channel storm conveyances should have a minimum of 1% running slope.


Make sure the cad guys have everything turned on when you mark this up.  Sometimes they turn off elements they know will need to be demolished and forget to turn them back on.

Hatch all pavement areas to be removed as well as noting them to be removed

Label all of the items called out to be removed or relocated.  On busy plans it’s hard to see where the leader lines are pointing sometimes. (ie.  Water line, concrete curb, etc….)

When removing or closing utilities make sure that you note if any special coordination needs to be done with the owner for the shut down when it happens.  Make sure to show the new alignment on utilities that are still needed on the utility plan.   Make sure to note if the contractor needs to coordinate work on utilities with the utility company and give the company name, a contact name and phone number.  Make sure to note if other users on a line to be shut down will need to be notified and coordinated with about time for shut down.  Coordinate this with the architect and owner before the plans are released so it’s not a surprise.

Make sure to coordinate with the landscape architect on which trees can be removed with the least impact to the new landscape required to replace it.

When removing any buildings or structures note for contractor to coordinate with the architectural and structural plans also.

When removing or relocating elements that the owner might want to keep, ask the architect where the new location needs to be and show it on the site plan.  (ie. Prefabricated buildings, site furniture, fencing, signs, etc…)

If work needs to be done on electrical site elements, note for the contractor to coordinate with the electrical plans and alert the electrical engineer.

Drainage:(Just keep answers to questions below in mind as the site, grading and demo plans are developed as they may impact the feasibility of those concepts.)

Did you leave room for appropriate detention on the plans?  

Did you leave room for appropriate water quality controls on plans? 

 Is every low area able to be drained to the receiving waters due to elevations or will it need to be raised or pumped? 

Utility: (Just keep answers to questions below in mind as the site, grading and demo plans are developed as they may impact the feasibility of those concepts.)

Contact the water department to start the utility availability request process to make sure they can serve us and where from.

Contact the sewer department to start the utility availability request process to make sure they can serve us and where from.

Contact the natural gas department to start the utility availability request process to make sure they can serve us and where from.

Contact the MPE engineers to determine the locations, sizes, elevations and design flows of all new services needed for the new work. (Domestic Water, Fire Water, Natural Gas, Sanitary Sewer, Storm Sewer, Oxygen, Nitrogen, Nitrous Oxide)

Contact the MPE engineers to determine the locations, sizes and types of pads needed for chillers, cooling towers, condensers, generators, fuel oil tanks, med gas, transformers, emergency water tanks, acid dilution pit, grease traps

SWPPP: (Just keep answers to questions below in mind as the site, grading and demo plans are developed as they may impact the feasibility of those concepts.)

Does the city, county or state have water quality requirements that would require large sediment ponds, bioretention or other bmp's that would require a lot of site area.

Talk to the city engineering/storm water department at length about their requirements for water quality, erosion and sediment control.  The more substantial the requirements, the earlier they need to show on the plans.  Sediment ponds, diversion channels, level spreaders, water quality units, turbidity monitoring are all examples of substantial controls.

Talk to the state environmental department at length about their requirements for water quality, erosion and sediment control.  The more substantial the requirements, the earlier they need to show on the plans.  Sediment ponds, diversion channels, level spreaders, water quality units, turbidity monitoring are all examples of substantial controls.

Landscape Architect:  Narrative (10%)