Commercial vs. Residential Land Development

First things first, residential land development and commercial land development, though they go through a similar process, are not the same. Here at BC Land Dev, we’re experts at residential land development and all it entails, but you don’t get to where we are without knowing about the commercial process too. At first glance, the two may not seem so different on the development side — the land still needs to be surveyed, graded, properly zoned, planned, and made sustainable for future builds. However, once you get into the coding requirements, the differences begin to emerge left and right. Let’s talk about these differences so that you can better understand what you need, and how the process will go when you’re ready to develop your land.

Know the Zoning Before You Hire a Developer 

While zoning can change, the process is complicated and often takes months, if not years, to complete. Plus, it’s not guaranteed. For example, you can’t expect the municipality to change zoning so you can build a residential home right in the middle of a retail business complex. 

All of this will impact how the land is developed! For example, the land developer has to take into account where parking will go versus where the building will be. They have to factor in drainage, wash relocation, how to grade the land, and how to build house pads that will support a 2-story home, or a 5-story commercial building. 

It will also impact the layout of the land – that is to say, placements of everything from lights, to parking lots. 

Residential Zoning

Residential zoning can be more complicated to change, especially if the lot is zoned for something else, because you have to consider the quality of life of that location.

This means residential developments must:

  • Guarantee sufficient light and air, a variety of outdoor areas, vehicular and pedestrian circulation systems in each home
  • Convey residential character or environment
  • Be compatible with adjacent developments
  • Have sufficient variety to meet housing needs
  • Establish residential densities

Commercial Zoning

Commercial zoning is a tad simpler. Ordinances often require a specific number of parking spaces and may regulate the number of stories a building can have, the size of signs, and the number of similar businesses in the same district.

Commercial Development & Construction in Phoenix

Commercial development regulations are different for each municipality. This blog solely covers the regulations in Phoenix

In Phoenix, commercial properties are considered to be properties that house multi-family homes of three or more units, businesses and retail locations, apartment complexes and condominiums, and more. 

New commercial projects require preliminary site plan approval before building plans can be submitted for review. The first step in the site plan approval process is the site pre-application meeting.

Before you start development, submit your building plans to be reviewed for compliance with the Phoenix Building Construction Code to ensure it is a viable project. For more information about the codes that are currently in use, see the section on Codes, Ordinances, Standards and Interpretations.

Codes & Permitting for Commercial Land Development & Construction

Commercial buildings have stricter regulations than residential. While both residential land development and commercial need to adhere to specific codes and obtain permits, commercial properties have different rules and regulations for:

  • Building materials
  • Electrical systems
  • Plumbing
  • Construction techniques
  • Design
  • Size

Don’t forget about ADA compliance. The ADA does not cover residential private apartments and homes, meaning home builders do not have to comply with ADA guidelines, while commercial developers and builders do.

Residential Land Development & Construction in Phoenix

Residential development includes single-family homes, duplexes, and townhome projects. Construction permits are needed for new homes and when existing homes are remodeled or additions are made.

The City of Phoenix requires an appointment to submit the following residential plans:

  • Standard Single Family Residences
  • Standard Duplex Buildings
  • Standard Townhomes/Single Family Attached Buildings
  • Projects assigned to a specific PDD Team Leader that include residential buildings
  • (Requires Team Leader approval to submit)
  • Special projects as determined by Residential Supervisors

Commercial vs. Residential Land Development

Now that all the legal aspects are out of the way, what’s the difference between the development process? 

To be honest, not much. The size and scope of work are the biggest factors that can change the process. For example, a single story, one-family home will be a lot less complicated than a multi-story hotel. While the land will still need to be graded, excavated, and house pads will need to be built, the process will be more extensive for larger projects. This will take longer and could significantly impact the cost of the project. 

The land also plays a big factor. If a wash needs to be relocated, or if several trees need to be removed, it will impact the timeline and the cost of your project. On top of that, it could also impact the highest and best use of the land

All of that, with the addition of the zoning, inspections, codes, and approval process, is a lot to manage. When it comes time to build your residential projects, work with professionals who know the ins and outs of it all. Work with a professional land developer who works with both commercial and residential lots, and who has an extensive network of home builders, construction managers, and architects. Work with BC Land Dev! Give us a call at 480-660-9798, or visit us online. We’ll be happy to help!

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