In the fast-moving and ever-changing industry of land development, keeping up and moving ahead means recognizing opportunity and swiftly acting on it. It’s about getting the information you need upfront to arrive at a ‘go/no-go’ decision as quickly as possible, and then knowing what to do next. One of the most accessible strategies to any owner, investor, or developer is to challenge yourself and your traditional ways of approaching projects. When you are facing any of the four circumstances below, break from tradition and start with a civil engineer to increase your chance of success:

1. You're already sweating entitlements.

A call to your civil engineer will help begin to answer one of the most pressing project questions: What will it take to get approved? Civil engineers will outline the entitlement process, general timeframe, and players with influence over your project. They’ll also evaluate zoning restrictions or other entitlement challenges, and provide recommendations on the feasibility of your options. If your entitlement process includes rezoning, variances, use permits, or other long and expensive approvals, engaging a civil engineer from the start will give you a boost in the right direction for moving the project forward through creative approaches and strategies.

Why it’s a smart call: Entitlements can make or break a project, like this active adult community in Millis, MA, which faced six local approval boards at a whopping 47 hearings. Knowing what you’re up against enables you to arrive at ‘go/no-go’ decision faster and kick-start an effective entitlement strategy.

2. You have non-negotiables for the functional use of your site.

Consider your development’s end use and the site elements you need for the project to be successful. How critical is site access? Are you developing for public use, like a hospital or school, and need to consider accessibility for public safety? Are you struggling to balance resident yield with green space for a residential development? Is it important to connect to nearby transportation? Do you need to consider long-term maintenance requirements? A call to your civil engineer is a smart first move to discuss these items and their impact on your project’s success.

Why it’s a smart call: Your civil engineer can help check the box on your site’s must-haves, like Mack Trucks’ non-negotiable effective site circulation for the redevelopment of their distribution facility in Lehigh Valley, PA.

3. The site's physical attributes are hindering your ability to develop it to its fullest.

Perhaps it’s not the use dictating the site layout, but rather complex physical attributes of the site itself. Challenges such as topography, soil conditions, bodies of water, or wetlands could all impact your ability to develop the site. If you foresee existing conditions being an obstacle, a call to your civil engineer will give you a better understanding of how these things could potentially affect the size of your building footprint or its placement on the site. By assessing the situation, a civil engineer will guide you through your options, including making recommendations for engaging subconsultants and strategizing solutions to keep the project moving forward.

Why it’s a smart call: When there are site obstacles in play, like a 53-foot grade change on this Arlington, VA hotel site, upfront planning with a civil engineer is key to creating an effective development strategy that maximizes the site and makes the most of your development.

4. You're not sure where to start.

If you’re unable to identify the biggest threats to your project, call your civil engineer. Like a baseball catcher’s viewpoint facing the field, your civil engineer has an overall situational awareness. With the ability to see various elements of the project and how they integrate with one another, your civil engineer can identify development challenges and guide you through what to do next.

Why it’s a smart call: Forward-thinking civil engineering can identify and evaluate problems before they become a money pit, like on this senior living community in Hudson, MA, where the development team never anticipated the need to run sewer pipes beneath a river.

In an industry where a project’s success is largely dependent on a developer’s ability to move swiftly, knowing who to call first arms you with the information you need to advance your project in the right direction. The four examples above are instances when the most effective use of your time and money is initially prioritizing the site and its associated challenges. Should you find yourself in one of these situations, challenge your traditional project approach by starting with your civil.


Need help moving your development forward by challenging your project approach? Contact one of Bohler’s civil engineers to get started and learn more about our land development services.