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    Building a Custom Home Series, Part XII: Site Preparation

    Building a Custom Home Series, Part XII: Site Preparation

    We have the approved permits for our project on Great Falls Street!

    Demo with NDI

    BP with NDI_Page_2


    Now what? The building permit is approved and the subcontractors who will be prepping the site have been selected so now it’s time to get the site prep started! Site prep includes the following:

    • County or City Site Inspection (as required)
    • Installing the Silt Fence & Construction Driveway
    • Clearing (includes existing house, sheds, trees, brush, etc.)
    • Engineer’s Stakeout & Cut Sheet

    Site prep must be completed before the builder can start their work. If you are handling the site development on your own, you will be responsible for hiring and scheduling the site contractors. We hired Rock Hard Excavating to do the site work at Great Falls Street. Rock Hard is family owned and run (we like that!) and the company has been around since the ‘70’s. You can learn more about them here.

    County or City Site Inspection
    Almost all municipalities will want to have a meeting with the owner and/or site subcontractor before anything is done on the lot. The purpose of this meeting is to make sure the owner and/or site subcontractor understand the expectations for erosion control and site preparation. Some municipalities require the arborist to attend this meeting as well. Check with your local permit office for details and requirements.

    Installing the Silt Fence
    All municipalities in Northern Virginia will require silt fence to be installed prior to construction. Silt fence is used for erosion control. It’s the fence that looks like it was made from a Hefty bag. In some cases, “Super” silt fence is required. This method uses a chain link fence to hold the fence up instead of wooden stakes. Fortunately, we only had to install regular silt fence at Great Falls Street.


    Construction Driveway
    Access for suppliers, subcontractors, project managers and inspectors is essential to a smooth construction process. A construction entrance and driveway will need to be installed and maintained throughout construction. There are specifications for these entrances to make sure they are installed correctly. But no matter how well the initial install goes, there will be need for additional gravel on the construction driveway throughout the process. Depending on the weather (wet weather is not good for gravel driveways) and how well the driveway performs, additional loads of gravel may be needed throughout the process.


    Once the silt fence and construction driveway are installed, the clearing can begin. This is certainly the first substantial phase of work since we started this process which is exciting! Clearing includes any structures (old house, detached garages, sheds, etc), trees and brush slated to be removed per the approved grading plan.

    If you remember, the lot on Great Falls Street had a detached garage and was overgrown and filled with brush and a few trees that were all in poor health. If there are trees to be saved and they are located close to the new house or in the path of construction traffic, tree preservation could be required.



    So let the demo begin!





    Just a couple of days later and the lot looks completely different.


    Don’t worry, we are planting plenty of new and healthy trees! The demo crew was nice enough to keep our trashcans in one piece. Thank you Rock Hard!


    After the lot is cleared, you will need to call your site engineer and have them come out to do the “stakeout”. The stakeout determines the corners (hubs) of the new house. This will aid the excavator when they dig the hole for the new house. These hubs give the location and the elevation of the corners on the house and garage.


    The hubs are set at 10’ offsets from the corners of the house & garage. On each stake, the engineer will write the elevation for that particular corner of the house


    After the engineer completes the stakeout of the house, they will transfer the information from the stakeout to a “cut sheet”. The cut sheet is used by the excavator when digging the hole. It’s like a check and balance with the stakes on the lot to make certain the new house is placed in the right spot.

    Sherwood Block N Lot 30 Cut Sheet

    After we receive the cut sheet in the office, we are ready to start construction. Every builder has their own process of getting from site prep to dig. At NDI, we’re working with our clients to get the Pre-Construction Meeting scheduled while the site prep is underway so that we can start construction as seamlessly as possible. We LOVE to get houses started and we are highly motivated to make that happen ASAP. Building beautiful new homes, it’s what we love to do.

    Getting closer.

    Dream Big. Build Smart.

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