For condominium and detached housing projects with common area landscaping, the builder should try to get the inspections and approvals of the landscaping divided up into phases spelled-out in the project conditions of approval.

I once worked for a bank that foreclosed on a builder who could not financially complete a particular project.  This project consisted of 25 detached houses in a planned-unit development (PUD) with common area landscaping.

The conditions of approval for this project said that all of the landscaping had to be complete and approved before any sold houses in the project could be released for occupancy.  This contingency would have required that all the landscaping be complete, inspected, and approved at lot 25…at the end of the construction…prior to moving new homebuyers into lot 1…at the opposite end of the project.

Because the project was too large in size to reasonably require all the landscaping to be complete before allowing houses to be occupied at the front end of the project…the county building inspector agreed to divide up the landscaping inspections into three phases.

People were thus allowed to move into the first phase after the landscaping was completed and signed-off for lot 1 through 9, then into the second phase after the landscaping was completed for lots 10 through 17, and so on.

Because we were a bank finishing a project that sat uncompleted for almost two years, the county building inspection bent the rules and allowed us to phase the landscape inspections.  We could thus makes sales, close escrows, and move people into their new homes at the front end of the project…in three phases…several weeks before the completion of the landscaping for the next phase…and a month or more before the completion of the landscaping at the end of the project.

This issue should be considered and resolved upfront in the conditions of approval for projects having common area landscaping.