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Site Preparation

Let’s take a look at some site preparation that needs to take place before you actually begin construction of your new home. Well in advance of building you have already selected the directional orientation and location on the building lot of your home. By now the engineer has also properly staked the location. By visually verifying exactly where the house will be built on the lot, you will know how to properly stage what needs to be completed before building actually begins. In many new homes the garage seems to always end up being a central staging area and a point of high traffic. This is most often the case because a crushed stone entrance leading to the garage area is already in place at the completion of the foundation backfill.

Stone is also an item that needs to be on the site before the start of the build as you will need to cut in a driveway or road leading to the foundation site. This job works out best if you can install it in the general or exact location of the finished drive. You could have your stone (usually a two inch washed aggregate or crusher run) or at least a portion of it delivered prior to the project start date. Your dig machine (most commonly a front end loader) can provide an entrance for work vehicles as soon as the stone arrives. This pre-building process will be necessary and will probably be a municipal code requirement.

The entrance should be wide enough to allow equipment, large trucks, traffic, etc., room to facilitate getting on and off the site without dragging dirt and mud onto the existing road. A proper installation will require the existing topsoil stripped down to a suitable subgrade before spreading your stone in the desired area(s). By doing this, the stone will be much better contained and provide the best road base possible. This procedure should later be continued over what will eventually become the finished driveway. The many months of home building traffic will gradually turn this stone subgrade into a nice roadbed for the driveway. Not having mud dragged out onto the road will help keep neighbor relations in check and will also keep sediment control inspectors happy as well. The inspectors can, and will, shut your project down if they feel you are allowing excess sediment runoff from your building project.

Sediment control inspectors, neighbors, streams, the community, and the environment will all be much better off if you install a proper silt fence before construction. This fence should be made of a tough synthetic cloth attached to stakes. The fence should be “keyed in” by digging a trench where the fence will be installed. By doing this and backfilling the excavated soil to grade on the construction (uphill) side, the fence will be sure to trap any silt and mud run-off caused by rain from permeating past the fence and out into neighboring areas. The fence should completely surround any area that will have exposed or disturbed ground. When installing the fence, allow yourself a large enough area to work so that you can keep the traffic as far as possible from the fence. The silt fence is an important environmental measure not to be overlooked or improperly installed. The results of negligence here can create some serious liabilities.

Just before starting construction, you will need two other items. First, a dumpster container should be placed onsite to store waste that will accumulate during the build. Second, you must supply portable toilet facilities for workers. The garbage container and portable toilet locations only require that they can be reached for service and that they are convenient as possible to the project.

For LEED projects there are two other very important considerations in your site preparation. Under Site Stewardship (SS 1), you should make every attempt to limit the amount of disturbed area of you site to no more than 40% of your total property area. Second, you should clearly stake-out and mark the areas that are to be left undisturbed, so that workers don’t inadvertently park or place items in those areas.

By paying attention to detail before your building project even begins, your build will proceed much more smoothly.

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