Strategies for Designing with Diligence


Well-known member
Aug 26, 2023
I found a fascinating question on Reddit that I believe could spark an engaging discussion here. There is this person who just started as a site engineer, and he is trying to figure out the ins and outs of design diligence and permitting for a project. Despite being good with CAD and making plans, he is confused about when and how to follow all the rules and regulations, like municipal codes and engineering manuals. He is looking for advice on understanding the whole permitting process. he is wondering how other people handle this initial phase in a land development project. Do you go back to previous projects for reference? Do you call up city or county officials to get the lowdown on requirements? Or do you have other tricks up your sleeve?
United States


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This might sound silly, but I've gleaned a wealth of information just by asking questions on social media. It's a decent strategy if the community has an active Facebook page or Twitter account. People can be incredibly helpful when given a chance.
I can understand how frustrating it must be for a conscientious engineer to have to juggle multiple regulatory requirements while still learning the ropes of land development design. If they're in a big enough company, there should hopefully be a regulatory SME on staff (e.g., a project manager who handles the company's permitting) that this person can turn to for questions about land use regulations. Understanding how multiple agencies operate and what that means for the specific types of projects you work on really is knowledge that's accumulated over time through hands-on experience. Ideally, there's a seasoned engineer somewhere in the company who can serve as a mentor to help guide this person through the nuances of developing site plans in accordance with local jurisdiction requirements.

I'd also recommend they not to be shy when it comes to organizing pre-application meetings with the agencies. If there are multiple agencies involved, they can hopefully get all the agencies together on the same call. Having all the agencies study and discuss your design as a group can be super helpful in terms of strategizing regulatory requirements. When multiple agencies are working together to sort out regulatory requirements, each agency is able to account for other agencies' constraints in real time while deciding on their own requirements. This allows potential conflicts - e.g., in terms of minimization or avoidance measures that will be required across agencies - to be quickly identified and resolved.