Eric Burtzlaff, PE
Due Diligence before Closing? 5 Important Civil Engineering Must-Haves!
It happens all the time! We get a call from a developer who just went under contract on a property and needs due diligence done before their closing date. Sometimes, that closing date is a reasonable period of time (several weeks/months), and sometimes that closing date is next week. Regardless, we need to get that developer as much information as possible about the feasibility of their proposed project.
There are 5 things that our team will need to investigate to feel comfortable giving the 'go-ahead' on any new project. I will highlight that these are only civil engineering due diligence items and not the general development checklist. In addition to our scope items, you will always want to get a design-level land survey, geotechnical report, and environmental study (if applicable) before proceeding with any development.
Conceptual Grading Plan
You will always want to have some understanding of the grading/earthwork necessary to complete your project. Additionally, things like Floodplains and Grading Setbacks on-site can create challenges. Conceptual grading plans can be tricky during the due diligence process in a project since many times the land survey isn't back yet.
In these cases, we can use GIS topography and or site visits to determine likely grading design and any on-site challenges. These plans will also help the jurisdiction understand your design better during their conceptual/initial reviews of your proposal.
Utility District Meeting
Unless you are building in a rural area, it’s very likely you will have utility providers on your new project. These include Sanitary Sewer (wastewater), Water, Electrical, and Natural Gas Providers. You will always want to meet with these providers to answer questions about serving your project. Specifically, you will want will-serve letters from providers prior to moving forward.
This will typically require a conceptual Utility Plan prepared by your civil engineer. It's always critical to find a civil engineer familiar with the jurisdiction requirements.
Fire Department Meeting
Life Safety is another very important part of any project's due diligence. I've had numerous projects where the client didn't respect or understand the implications of meeting life safety requirements.
When we do meetings with the fire department, Fire hydrants, fire access lanes, fire hydrants, and fire flow requirements are all really important things to discuss with the fire marshal.
Detention and Drainage are some of the most commonly missed due diligence requirements in my experience. Specifically, clients make assumptions prior to consulting civil engineering regarding the size and configuration of the system required. I've also had clients who didn't account for any detention volume or flood control on their projects.
Request that your civil engineer provides an estimated detention volume, configuration, and location if required on your project prior to getting out of due diligence.
Lastly, you and your design team should attend a pre-application/concept meeting with the jurisdiction prior to completing your due diligence. Getting feedback from the jurisdiction staff will make sure there are no unexpected items that arise during your project's review process.
If your civil engineering team completes these 5 steps during due diligence, your project will off on the right foot. Raptor Civil Engineering has experience helping our clients through the due diligence phase of developments. Give us a call if you'd like us to take a look at your next project!