By: Thomas J. Filazzola, P.E.

Finding the right site for your business is arguably one of the most important aspects of the small business start-up process (see: Where to Start). However, bringing your business plan from concept to reality can also be one of the most difficult and complicated issues for a business owner to deal with.

Of course the demographics of the neighborhood and other marketing aspects are critical at determining what constitutes a good location, but that's only half the battle.

Once you get past the business portions of the deal, you need to investigate and analyze the development issues you will face when coursing through the permitting (or entitlement) process with the various jurisdictional agencies to really find out if it truly is the right site for you.

The following is a partial list of the myriad items that should be addressed in the early phases of your project, and why they can be important. Obtaining these reports and surveys with the help of your civil engineer can save you both time and money during the course of building your business. Although common in many projects, they are most prevalent with freestanding sites, where the municipal ordinances and codes can have the greatest impact on your construction budget and development plans.

Although this list looks to be extensive, it’s actually far from all-inclusive. Every building project is unique and must be analyzed on a case by case basis. For even the most savvy businessman, builder or developer it can be a maze of potential obstacles hindering the successful launch of your business.

Being surprised by any of these items can lead to frustrating delays and costly budget overruns to even the best planned projects. Getting ahead of the curve can be achieved by retaining the right professionals to help your project get off to the right start.

Finding the right land use attorneys and civil engineers to help you develop your project early on can help you avoid costly and time consuming problems.

Having a local civil engineer provide you with a Site Evaluation Report and/or Zoning Analysis Report will help identify the often hidden hurdles and dangerous details that can stall or even prevent the success of your project.

Be prepared for it all, by being “Smart from the start”. $7.49 .com

About the Author: Thomas Filazzola is the founder and principal of Civil InSites, a Civil Engineering firm specializing in engineering, project management, land planning and land use approvals.

He can be reached at

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