If you are looking into a location for potential development you are going to need a build-out, also referred to as a lot analysis, or build-out analysis but either way it means an urban planner’s estimate. Simply put a build-out is a projection of how much development would occur in a community if every available acre was built on within its constraints. Typically the biggest constraint is under zoning regulations; other typical constraints are environmental and economic factors. Build-outs are generally done without a specific timeframe in mind. An “end point” scenario with some indefinite future is a better way to think of timing in regards to build-outs instead of something deadline oriented. The foremost purpose of a build-out analysis is to project the estimated future population or number of housing units, and secondarily to project the economic, environmental, and any additional impacts as the area develops. This is very useful information for the local government to make well informed decisions for policies by showing the quantity and quality of future growth and helping with some of the “what if” questions that are common when an area is being developed.
There are three different methods to do a build out analysis. One method takes a mathematical approach to build-outs. The mathematical method is a three step process that includes estimating the total number of dwelling units at build-out, estimating the total number of new dwelling units, and estimating population at build-out. The mathematical approach is considered to be the simplest build-out method because it can be done with a simple spread sheet and requires the least amount of data. Another build-out method uses geographical information both statewide and local to see zoning districts, committed open space, developed lands, and environmental constraints to development such as water resources, and land elevation. This method has three steps, but more of a layered approach with the first two; the first layer or step is establishing the available land that can be built upon, the second layer shows a cross reference with the first step to show how the land is zoned for development, which is followed by a calculation of the number of new dwelling units. Method three is a more refined analysis that is spatially specific. It gives a more specific idea of where development will occur. Unlike the first two methods, method three has 5 steps which include; merging parcel and zoning data layers, identifying constraints, indentifying currently developed parcels, configuring a GIS (geographic information system) with the zoning data, and then running analysis software.
Which method is best for you depends entirely upon what you’d like to know or accomplish. As in most cases it is best to seek the help of a professional in the construction business if you are considering having any construction done.