The first impression is undoubtedly a great impression! The external aesthetics of any residential property has a lot to do with the landscape surrounding it. However, there are functional considerations that transform this aesthetic appeal into a practical reality. Just imagine seeing stagnant pools of water in different parts of your yard. You are most likely to concur if we say it’s an unpleasant sight to behold. Even worse is the fact that they become a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other troublesome bugs. All this can adversely affect the health of the residents, and the life of the greenery surrounding the house.
In the field of construction or landscape design, grading refers to the shaping of the land to direct surface water away from the structure. The water within the property should eventually join a common public drainage system. Residential properties can also face the risk of damage from flooding caused by precipitation and melting of snow within the property or in the nearby areas. A lot grading plan is essential to avert this issue, and the local authorities insist on the same for the construction or renovation of a structure.
It is also done to make a provision for new structures, parking, and other utilities. Grading plans are required when performing slope repairs, tract grading, site preparation, base excavations, pool excavations, and more.
A grading plan outlines the criteria for land development. Design elevation, surface gradient, lot type, and swale location are the usual components of the plan. The plan also shows the elevations, dimensions, slopes, drainage patterns, etc. In other words, the average plan gives the expert all the information required to manage and inspect the grading process from start to finish. The submission of a grading plan, for approval, is a must for a new building. The location of the building, existing/proposed elevation, drainage arrows, location of erosion control, and details of retaining walls are some of the key elements featured on this plan. Cuts and fills are the most common aspects of any grading plan. The former refers to the material that is removed from the land, and the latter refers to the material used to fill an area. Usually, both are expected to be equal as far as possible. This is the very essence of lot grading.
The task of grading can also be tricky at times. An example is the presence of trees within the residential property compound. Let’s assume there’s a tree that needs to be retained even after the completion of grading on a property. In this case, the contractor needs to make sure that no cutting or filling is carried out within the dripline of the tree. This is one way of protecting the tree for years to come!
Even the homeowners need to know how to read a grading plan, though the landscaper or contractor will do the job when the project commences. This knowledge helps the homeowner to exchange views and interact better with the landscaper. It also narrows the gap between what is envisioned and what is finally completed.
In some cases, there are bylaws that mandate a grading plan. Builders are expected to grade properties based on an approved plan. Adherence to the approved grading plan results in the construction of a structure that is safe for the people who use it. The main intention behind this is to regulate the drainage on private and public properties. Grading is actually a part of the overall permit process followed by builders. Permissions are usually required in two scenarios – for building a new structure and for making changes to lot grading that could eventually alter the existing drainage patterns. When trying to get a grading plan, homeowners and home builders should make sure that the same conforms to all the essential design and construction requirements in the region. Minimum and maximum slopes, maximum allowed ponding, distance between swales, and compaction tests are just a few of the considerations. New subdivisions also make geotechnical recommendations with respect to the type of soil to be cut and the methods for placing the fill.
Non-adherence to guidelines could result in multiple issues; flooding is one among them. Improper construction could sometimes make way for water to flow into the house, and the hydrostatic pressure can result in major damages. Further, it could result in moisture damage to the foundation. Even stormwater can create issues if overlooked. As a result, it could damage the structure itself. The flooding and soil erosion could also cause damage to the neighboring properties, which in turn can lead to misunderstanding and expensive litigation. Even an improperly graded lot can result in these issues over a period of time. Generally, grading has to be done during the dry season to avert erosion of soil. Re-grading can sometimes create more complexities that were not anticipated earlier.
The preparation of a grading plan calls for a combination of engineering and mathematical skills. A licensed civil engineer or architect is usually the person who supervises the development of a grading plan. The best practice is to put a civil engineer on the job since he/she is used to delving deeper into the technicalities of this kind of work. When the grading activities exceed a certain quantity of grading material, a civil engineer will be asked to prepare the plan in most cases. This is because an engineer knows exactly how much soil has to be removed and how much has to be filled. The grading plan is always prepared with this aspect in mind. It’s safe and prudent to pick a seasoned engineer who has in-depth knowledge of the federal and state laws.
A series of procedures, including a topographic survey, is carried out before preparing a grading plan. The expert who is preparing the grading plan will evaluate the soil conditions and drainage status before proceeding with the task. The stability of the soil and possibility of seismic activity are critical factors that are usually considered. A typical residential grading plan takes a few days to prepare, though more complex structures might take more time.
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