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Commercial vs. Residential Land Development


Commercial and residential land development and construction vary in almost every way, from the surveys conducted to the building materials and equipment required. At first glance, the two may not seem so different on the development side — the land still needs to be surveyed, graded, properly zoned, planned, and made sustainable for future builds. However, once you get into the coding requirements, the differences begin to emerge left and right.


Commercial Development & Construction in Phoenix

Commercial development regulations are different per each municipality; therefore this blog will strictly go over regulations in Phoenix. In Phoenix, the line between commercial and residential is blurred slightly.


A commercial building permit is required for all residential construction that consists of multi-family projects of three or more units, including condos and apartment buildings, as well as non-resident construction and remodels, and changes-of-use.


Building plans are reviewed for compliance with the Phoenix Building Construction Code. For more information about the codes that are currently in use, see the section on Codes, Ordinances, Standards and Interpretations.


This list includes:


  • Building Codes

  • Accessibility Development Guidelines

  • City of Phoenix Fire Department Codes

  • Ordinances

  • Standards

  • Interpretations and Guidelines


New Commercial Projects in Phoenix

New commercial projects require preliminary site plan approval before building plans can be submitted for review. The first step in the site plan approval process is the site pre-application meeting.


Commercial Inspections

Various types of inspections may be required for a development project, depending on the project’s scope. Commercial land developers and builders in Phoenix may need to look into all of the following inspections:



Codes & Permitting for Commercial Land Development & Construction

Commercial buildings have stricter regulations than residential. White both residential land development and commercial need to adhere to specific codes and obtain permits, commercial properties have different rules and regulations for:


  • Building materials

  • Electrical systems

  • Plumbing

  • Construction techniques

  • Design

  • Size


Development and management professionals for commercial projects are well-versed in the relevant local and federal building regulations that are necessary for commercial projects.


Additional standards are in place for commercial buildings to protect against safety concerns related to elevators, handicap accessibility, parking lots or parking garages and others.


Residential buildings also adhere to building standards; however these requirements are considered simpler and easier to comply with than commercial construction. For example, the ADA does not cover residential private apartments and homes, meaning home builders do not have to comply with ADA guidelines, while commercial developers and builders do.


Residential Land Development & Construction in Phoenix

Residential development includes single-family homes, duplex, and townhome projects. Construction permits are needed for new homes and when existing homes are remodeled or additions are made.


The City of Phoenix requires an appointments to submit the following residential plans:


  • Standard Single Family Residences

  • Standard Duplex Buildings

  • Standard Townhomes/Single Family Attached Buildings

  • Projects assigned to a specific PDD Team Leader that include residential buildings

  • (Requires Team Leader approval to submit)

  • Special projects as determined by Residential Supervisors


Residential Zoning

To know if you can develop or build a residential property, you first need to know the zoning. According to the Phoenix Zoning Ordinance, “Residential districts are established in recognition of a need to provide areas of the City devoted primarily to living functions. In order to preserve these areas from the distractions and adverse impacts which can result from immediate association with nonresidential uses.”


This means residential developments must:


  • Guarantee sufficient light and air, a variety of outdoor areas, vehicular and pedestrian circulation systems in each home

  • Convey residential character or environment

  • Be compatible with adjacent developments

  • Have sufficient variety to meet housing needs

  • Establish residential densities


In short, residential zoning is less strict than commercial, but focused on dwelling in the property, while commercial zoning is more focused on the customer experience and the impact of the surrounding area.


Residential Inspections

​All permitted residential jobs require inspections.


Critical points that require an inspection include:


  • Before any concrete is poured to allow for critical points to be inspected, such as underground plumbing and electrical, rebar for foundations, and depth and width of footings.

  • After the rough framing is completed

  • Before insulation and drywall is installed

  • When the interior is drywalled.

  • After a successful final inspection, the gas and electrical utilities are notified that the utilities can be turned on.

  • Any street work, curb cuts, sidewalks & new utility services. These inspections are performed by the civil inspectors.


It’s a lot to manage, especially if you don’t have a professional local team on your side. If you’re in need of just that, give BC a call at 480-900-1991 or visit us online. We'll be happy to help!


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