Determining the highest and best potential for a residential or commercial property is one of the most important things an Architect can help you determine.

Your Architect can help you figure out:

  • If you can use your property for what you intend. For example what does the City consider as home office versus a commercial business?
  • Determining which trees can be cut down and which can’t. In the City of Austin, for example, any tree over 19” in diameter (tree trunk measured at 4.5 feet above the ground) is considered protected whereas in the City of Westlake Hills, Texas it is 16”.
  • What is the desired orientation of the building both from a solar/ green building perspective and also from a functional perspective? For instance, perhaps there is a way to mitigate a poor solar orientation to maximize a potential view.
  • Can you create a “condo regime” on your property thereby enabling you to build two or three homes rather than one?
  • Can you subdivide the property into two or three lots keeping one and selling off the others now or at some time down the road?
  • Is that commercial space you are considering suitable for a restaurant? Does it have adequate plumbing, ventilation, and sanitation? How many exits will the City of Austin require for fire egress? What is the allowable occupancy for your building design and how many restrooms will the City require?
  • Will the soil support the structure and what kind of foundation design is best for your soil type? How will this be determined? What kind of survey will you need and what is the most cost-effective resource?
  • Will the City count an attic as usable floor area? What about a carport? For example, in certain Austin neighborhoods the attic is not calculated as counting toward allowable floor area if the average height of the ceiling is 7’ or less. And a carport open on 3 sides allows you to deduct up to 450 square feet from the floor area of the residence in Tarrytown.

Your Architect can give you expert advice so you can understand the ins and outs of the potentially-baffling land use and City Code. For this reason it usually makes sense to have an “option period” written into any offer you make to purchase or lease commercial or residential real-estate. This “option period” gives your Architect the time to evaluate the property’s true potential and value to you – perhaps saving you from a very expensive mistake.