Why zoning is fundamental to construction planning

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What is zoning

Zoning relates to government regulations that guide what can and cannot be built on any property. For any construction project, you can refer to the local, municipal or city zoning map to determine what zoning classification your construction site belongs to. From that, you can find out the regulations for that specific zoning classification. Zoning classifications include residential, commercial, agricultural, industrial or hotel/hospitality along with other particular designations.

After learning what you can build—for instance, a low-rise apartment building or a single-lot duplex house—the zoning ordinance for your zoning classification will detail the construction requirements. Zoning laws will regulate construction details in specific locations. For example, it can limit the maximum height of your building in a given area despite the type of construction allowed. Zoning ordinances also require the minimum size of lot you need to build your construction project including dimensions like width, depth, and street frontage. Each of these regulatory requirements must be fulfilled so you will be allowed to build your building or house. Zoning requirements also include minimum distances in the perimeter of your property line that you must maintain without construction. Fencing, decking, outbuilding, coverage and floor area ratio also fall under zoning regulations.

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Why zoning matters to construction

Since zoning laws regulate the construction details of a project as per its location, it is very important to reinforce your construction planning with zoning details of the construction lot. However, project managers always make the rookie mistake of failing to integrate zoning into their planning.

As regulations dictate the size, density and location of structures within a plot of land, along with parking and green space requisites, it is of utmost importance to incorporate the data they specify into your construction plan and schedule. Size can refer to the height, number of stories, footprint, etc. of a building structure. Density relates to the development allowed per square meter, determined either by the number of housing units per land parcel (in residential development) or floor area ratio (for commercial development). Location is regulated by the minimum open space around a building or structure (which are called setbacks). Considering all these and plotting building specifications into the overall construction plan and short-term planning would streamline tasks and jobs in a systematic and logical workflow.

For example, you are the project manager of a multi-family building project where five or more identical apartments have their own separate external entrances. To execute the construction, there are specific requirements you have to initially comply with to satisfy the specific zoning regulations (size, density, location) for each individual unit—different sets of tasks and different construction teams may be needed to complete each unit. But since you can’t have everyone working on everything all at once, you will have to schedule your subcontractors and project teams in a way that the correct crew accesses the correct zone or performs the correct task at the right time and progress to the next job or location in a timely manner so the next crew can perform their job.

In order to achieve this successfully, including the zoning requirements in a live construction plan and shareable short-term schedule will enable you to get the latest updates of what’s happening in your project and allow you to share the latest progress with your project teams and subcontractors. Bringing all this to the cloud gives your collaborators the ability to see what is happening in the construction site at any given time. This means, all your subcontractors and construction crew know exactly when to show up to execute the job they have to do. As a project manager, you create an efficient project plan with flexible short-term schedules and effective workflows.

Zoning and your construction plan on the cloud: benefits

1. The correct subcontractor/construction crew arrives on site for the right task at the right time

Because zoning adds a series of specifications into your construction schedule, putting everything on the cloud gives you a thorough workflow of who needs to do what. Live progress updates give your construction crew and subcontractor the knowledge of when exactly to show up and what they need to do.

Learn more: 5 questions all Project Managers should ask themselves before they start a project

2. Increase schedule predictability with standardised processes

As you base your construction planning and scheduling on a set of strict standards, you are able to standardise your process and create effective work systems. Thus, you minimise mistakes, you increase productivity on repetitive tasks and building structures while making faster knowledge-based decisions, for an optimal overall outcome of your construction project.

3. All project participants stay on the same page with a complete overview of on-site happenings

Having a live schedule or programme that everyone can access allows all your project crew members and subcontractors to know what is exactly happening on the construction site at any given time. Live progress updates enable everyone to stay on the same page and notify relevant collaborators of what they need to do when they need to do it.

4. Minimise time waste and materials waste.

Since your work processes are standardised, your workflows are calculated, your construction progress is live, and your schedule predictable, you mitigate time waste and materials waste before they can have any big impact on your construction schedule. No more delays or downtime.

5. Keep your project margins intact

While you minimise time waste and materials waste, you basically cut out any unnecessary delay and downtime—waiting time between activities will be eliminated. Additionally, as you detect mistakes and communicate them relevantly in a timely manner, you also mitigate project disputes and significantly reduce all related claims. Ultimately, you protect your project margins and they are kept intact in the entirety of your construction progress.

Read also: 5 tips that every site foreman should know about

Consider zoning in your next project plan

Now that you understand the basics of zoning, the importance of zoning in your construction project, and how zoning regulations can dictate the series of workflows in your construction process, maybe it is about time that you integrate zoning into how you create your project plans and look-ahead schedules. You may also be interested in combining all this new knowledge and putting your programme on the cloud to optimise how you and your teamwork. To understand more of this, you may download our free ebook for free!

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