What is a site plan?

A site plan is a top view of a specific lot of land. It shows the location of structures (proposed or existing) in relation to the lot boundaries and contours. A site plan will usually include features such as:
Sketch of a simple site plan for buidling a house

  • boundary dimensions
  • compass bearings
  • contour lines
  • distance-to-boundary limits (building line limits and/or set backs)
  • easements, driveways, paths, access points and adjacent streets
  • roof line of existing and proposed buildings, including dimensions of structures and distances to building line limits
  • stormwater drainage and any watercourses
  • proposed landscaping and existing natural features such as trees and boulders
  • lines and connection points for services such as water, power, sewerage and telephone
  • any other external structures such as clothes line, barbeque area or water tanks

A site plan may also show the relative heights of structures to a fixed level surface known as a datum. For example, the heights (relative to the datum) of each end of a stormwater drainage system may be written on the site plan to indicate the desired slope or fall.

Site plans are usually drawn to a scale of 1:200 or 1:500.

A site plan would be used by a builder to identify the correct lot and location of the proposed building work within the lot. It would also be used to ensure that the proposed structures did not encroach onto building line limits or easements.

A builder could use a site plan to identify if excavation or demolition work is required prior to construction.

The site plan would help a builder to anticipate and prepare for possible problems relating to issues such as a steep block, access for deliveries, retaining existing natural features, or right-of-way expectations of neighbours during building work. Knowledge of these potential problems would also help a builder to avoid under-quoting on a building project.


National VET E-learning Strategy, ‘BCGBC4007A Prepare Documentation: Site Plans’, Build Right, Commonwealth of Australia, viewed 12 March 2014, http://toolboxes.flexiblelearning.net.au/demosites/series10/10_01/content/bcgbc4007a/02_prep_documentation/02_plans/page_002.htm

Class notes (levelling), Sydney Institute of TAFE, Sydney, New South Wales, viewed 13 March 2014, http://mirkostrade10.sydneyinstitute.wikispaces.net/file/view/Class+Notes+Levelling.pdf

‘CPCCCM2001A Read and interpret plans and specifications’, NSW HSC Online, NSW Department of Education and Communities, viewed 12 March 2014, http://www.hsc.csu.edu.au/construction/other_units/compulsory/bcg1003a/bcg1003a/bcg1003aedit1csu.html

‘How to Read and Interpret Plans and Elevations’, DA Planner’s Online Mentor and Induction Kit, Planning Institute Australia, South Australian Division, viewed 12 March 2014, http://www.daonline.net.au/site/how_to_read_and_interpret_plans_and_elevations.php