Project Management

What Is Forward Planning?

In land development and homebuilding, I have often heard the term “forward planning” and have also found that each company might have a different version or scope for the term.  From my perspective and experience, I like to think of forward planning as all of the plans, documents, permits, and processing that need to occur prior to the physical construction that occurs onsite.

The first aspect in the forward planning process is what I would consider the process of obtaining the entitlements, also called the discretionary approvals by the political bodies of the local government.  During this phase, a team of consultants and experts prepare the necessary plans and documents that will be submitted as an application to the city or county having jurisdiction over the property.  The city/county process then entails the staff review, plan revisions, and hopefully a successful approval by the planning commission and/or city council.

Once the entitlements are obtained, a next aspect is the final engineering for grading and improvement plans.  Again, a team of consultants and experts prepare the submittal package with the objective being to obtain permits to start the grading and site work.  The city plan check process is typically only at the staff level, meaning that no further approvals are needed by the planning commission or city council.  With the plans approved and permits issued, the site work can commence.

The building permits to construct homes or apartments typically require a detailed set of plans prepared by an architect and structural engineer.  These building plans are submitted to the staff level and go through a plan check process that ultimately ends in the issuance of building permits.  In addition, other aspects can include the landscape architecture, formation of homeowner associations, CCR’s, and sales reports.  I am sure that I have left out many more items that a seasoned project manager can add to this list.

Please feel free to add your thoughts, comments, or questions below.

John Kaye has over 30 years experience within the land development and homebuilding industries, having held senior management positions with The Irvine Company, Koll Real Estate Group, and Brookfield Homes. As a developer, John has overseen the land acquisition, entitlements, and development of master planned communities, residential tracts, urban infill sites, and land assemblages. His experience and skill sets include land acquisition, land brokerage, project management, market analysis, finance, and strategic planning.

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