All new construction projects or remodels require permission from the local planning authority. These groups typically have the ultimate say on whether a proposed project will be given permission to go on. They evaluate such things as how the new project will fit into the area, whether it will effect traffic flow, and how it can benefit the surrounding area. Without permission from the planning board, you will find yourself unable to obtain a building permit, leaving the project over before it has begun. Therefore, it's very important to give the board all the information they need to evaluate your proposed project. Creating the plans needed for planning review is fairly simple, and doesn't usually require that an architect be hired.
Check with your local building permit office to find out what is required for planning review. Some cities require only a hand-drawn sketch, while others may require the drawings be stamped by an architect. The permit office will be able to provide you with the instructions for getting your project reviewed.
Visit your town's public records office and purchase a copy of the property's plat. The plat will show boundary lines and surrounding properties. Some planning commissions require you to submit a copy of the plat with your application, while others do not. Even if you don't need to submit it, it will be helpful to have the plat when completing your drawings.
Draw a sketch of your proposed project, whether it is a simple deck you'd like to add to your home or a series of new houses you are developing. It is important to draw the project to scale so the planning review board can get an idea of the actual size of the proposed addition in relation to surrounding buildings.
Show the property boundary lines on your drawing. You can determine these using the plat you obtained earlier. Most planning boards also require that you show adjacent properties as well.
Complete your application carefully, including all required information, and submit it along with the drawings. You'll want to double-check your work, and make sure everything is done the way the instructions indicate. Earnings permission from planning boards is notoriously difficult, and you don't want to give the board any additional reasons to reject your application.
When doing work that requires structural design, you will likely need to have your drawing stamped by an architect or engineer licensed in your state. As these professionals charge by the hour, you can save big money by preparing your drawings ahead of time on your own.