What is Site Grading in Construction and Civil Engineering?

Grading in construction, otherwise known as site grading, refers to the process construction companies go through to level the ground’s surface or form it into a preplanned contour. A construction grade has a few components: base, fill, and upgrade. Consideration must also be given to slope drainage and erosion. Grading usually requires the installation of some form of cable, pipe, or other materials that serve as anchors for earthworks and upgrade building units. The objective of site grading is to make the terrain both uniform and stable for further construction or development. This article will discuss site grading in construction and civil engineering. It will also describe the purpose of grading plans and the experts who create them.

What is Site Grading?

Site grading in construction and civil engineering is the process of adjusting and evening out the ground’s slope and elevation around a construction site before the actual building takes place. Earthen elements are either added or subtracted until the ground matches the prescribed heights and characteristics. 

The resulting landscape typically looks better and acts as a more stable substrate for construction. Professional engineers or earthwork contractors are typically required to supervise the project. This ensures that soil conditions and moisture issues, among other things, come out as expected. Civil or geotechnical engineers are also often needed on the site to assess elevation variations and determine how rainwater will affect nearby land features and bodies of water. The process may start with a simple review of regional contour maps. 

Why is Site Grading Important?

Site grading is important for several reasons:

1. Ensures a more solid foundation – The foundation of any structure is critically important. If a home’s foundation is built on improperly graded ground, it may shift, settle, or allow water to wash soil away. Such problems can permanently damage the entire structure.

2. Improves the drainage around the building: Improving drainage is one of the most crucial aspects of land grading. Water that collects around a structure may cause flooding or other water damage. A proper grading plan might demand retention ponds, sloping land, and other features that spread or direct water to reduce erosion. 

3. Useful when modifying existing land surfaces: Site grading should be employed when changing existing surfaces including slopes, staircases, embankments, water features, and rock walls. Certain features may require more underlying support than others. 

What is a Grading Plan?

A grading plan is a proposal for all grading that the construction design is expected to need. It contains all contour lines as well as the location, scale, and elevation of every proposed grading operation. It may also include specifications for subsurface infill materials that, though not visible after completion, will help the land drain properly or remain stable after other structures are built. The objective is to make sure that water flows down and away from the foundation of any structures as well as any site features you want to protect. Professional grading techniques can minimize the time and money needed to move material from one place to another.

Who Prepares Grading Plans?

Grading plans must be created under the guidance of a qualified expert such as a certified architect or civil engineer. The plan must be signed and stamped by a registered architect or civil engineer before a permit can be issued. Additionally, most counties require any grading plan that involves more than 2000 cubic yards of material to be created or approved by a civil engineer. Irrespective of the size, the local planning department may demand engineered or grading plans for complex sites. 

How to Choose a Civil Engineer?

Choosing a civil engineer for site grading can be a difficult decision. First, it is important to figure out which type of civil engineering work you need. Every civil engineer has their own specialization. Some focus on highway design and construction, bridge expansion and modification, electrical engineering and power plant design, environmental management, etc. Also, find out the qualifications and experience levels of the architect or construction company that is offering you this type of work.

Professional Site Grading Execution

Grading is an important task because it determines the strength and properties of the underlying ground. It has significant effects on foundations and local drainage. Without a good understanding of the relevant engineering principles, grading can lead to costly mistakes. Grading can affect almost every aspect from budgeting to design to construction scheduling, so it is important to consult an experienced construction field engineer before you start moving soil. Contact a Burrell CG representative today!

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