This is the story of how we started our new build in Palmetto Bluff, from issuing the Approved Permit Plan Set through to beginning the build by our construction team, Simplified Construction.

Mid 2020, when the pandemic was wreaking its worst, my wife and I purchased the land behind our home in Moreland Village, within the highly coveted Palmetto Bluff neighborhood, which is situate along the May River in Bluffton SC.  While our Moreland Village home is our primary residence, we have found great success in making it available for short term rental when we are away on planned travel. We rent our home when our son is out of school, seizing the opportunity to broaden his horizons with travel and family visits.  Rental rates these days are very healthy, and particularly so within Palmetto Bluff so we decided to build an additional property to be used strictly as a rental that complements our existing home which is based on a typical farmhouse design you can find around the South Carolina lowcountry.  More details of this build can be found HERE.

Building in Palmetto Bluff is not complicated if you understand the process. It’s a process involving the Bluffton Planning Department and the Design Review Board/Conservancy at Palmetto Bluff.  Understand how the relationships are integrated, and you will proceed at a pace and without hindrance.


The first step in the process is to submit the Permit drawings and application.  For that, you will need:

  • two sets of bound and stamped drawings  
  • RESCHEK form based on the approved design
  • Manual J, Schedule D
  • submission from Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing Contractors
  • your selected General Contractor 

You will also need to pay for the permit(s) – each structure will require a Permit. Once issued, pay the Tap Fees, these are the charges assessed for new construction to install a new water or sewer connection to a municipal or privately owned source. Your General Contractor (GC) will be responsible for all this, plus ordering temporary power and water to the site.  We plan to use our own company, Simplified Construction, so an additional step was to apply to the Palmetto Bluff DRB to gain approval from them to build in the resort. In Palmetto Bluff, this is a strict requirement and as such, requires a certain cache of building esteem.  Luckily we had a good track record already, having gained a rank of Tier 1.

The next step in the process is to obtain site signage, typically displaying:

  • owner
  • contractor
  • architect
  • landscape

Two local signage companies know the ropes.  Town of Bluffton Permits currently takes about eight weeks to process. Once completed,  you can apply for a Building Permit within Palmetto Bluff and pay both the PB GC deposit and permit fees. If you are building a pool, then this will need its own Permit and payment to the DRB.  Allow a week for PB Permits; Monday to Monday is typical.

Land: Clearing & Site Prep

You need to erect the signage and display all building Permits on the street frontage of your build site. That’s easy enough.  You will also need to arrange to clear the site.  Several companies do this locally.  Our advice would be to use Cleland. They work within Palmetto Bluff, having local access to site equipment, disposal facilities, and, importantly, fill dirt (understand now how the local lakes are created?).

The site clearance contractor should be engaged while waiting for permits from the Town of Bluffton. Please don’t leave this too late, as they get busy.  As well as clearing the land, you should also engage them to:  

  • Bring in fill dirt to grade the land
  • Pad the site in the way of the actual construction
  • Install the shaker pad at the site entrance and any hardcore needed for dumpsters or other site services.
  • Erect the site silt fence and protect any drainage in the street easement.

Order the site toilet now. Hide it within the sample panel structure, tucking it neatly out of plain sight. Your Electrical Contractor will install the temporary power pole and call for a Town inspection in parallel with this. Order your connection from the Utility Company. The Inspection will automatically trigger the Utility to connect the power and set your meter. The same happens with the water connection.

This video shares a look at the crew making quick work of clearing the land:

This is an exciting time. If your lot is wooded, you will see big changes happening quickly. Your Surveyor will be needed during the process to mark out build pads. After completing the pad, the Surveyor will undertake the Hub and Tack staking to dig footings, this is the process of a Professional Land Surveyor at the building site determining points by placing wooden hubs in the ground.

The Build process begins

At this point, the actual build will begin. That’s another process and involves its sequence of trades and inspections. Sufficient for now to understand how to get to GO and begin the build in earnest.  Also, it may seem a little daunting, but you as a client have nothing to worry about. The tasks are for your selected General Contractor.  In our case, we are both clients and General Contractor so thought it useful to explain how it all fits together.  

P.S. – this is also a great chance to grab some free wood for the fire pit! Make sure to split the logs so they dry out thoroughly.

Building custom homes in Palmetto Bluff is not difficult if you understand the process. Our firm, Simplified Construction, has been awarded the highest approval category for building locally within the Palmetto Bluff development, providing our clients with the reassurance that we are indeed experts at the intricacies and regulatory demands of the design-build process. If you consider building your own home, let us work with you to make it happen quickly and cost-effectively.

Follow this blog series:

Building in Palmetto Bluff – Understanding How Design Influences Lumber Costs

Building in Palmetto Bluff: Applying New FEMA Flood Requirements to Design

Palmetto Bluff: 4 New Builds Begin & Modern-Style Barn Design

Palmetto Bluff: Cost Estimations as a New Investment Project Begins

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