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    What We’re Building Next Door: Site Prep

    What We're Building Next Door: Site Prep

    I am very excited to announce a new blog series chronicling the construction of my neighbor’s NDI home. I’ve built for friends before, but there is something about being asked by your neighbor! We’ve been friends and neighbors for over 10 years, and I am honored they asked us to build their new home.

    There are lots of steps to the process of building a custom home that I could cover, but I’ve blogged about that before (HERE and HERE). For this series, I’m really going to focus on the construction process because let’s be honest, that is really the most exciting part about building a new home!

    Today, I’m going to cover Site Prep!

    Site prep is anything that needs to be done to the lot in order to get it “prepped” for construction to start.

    Site prep includes the following:

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

    County or City Site Inspection
    Almost all municipalities will want to have a meeting with the owner and/or site subcontractor before any work begins. 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.

    Here is my neighbor’s old house with the silt fence freshly installed.

    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.

    The old house coming down!

    Engineer’s Stakeout & Cut Sheet

    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.

    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.

    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.

    My neighbors lot all cleared and ready to go!

    Need to get that silt fence tacked up!

    Dream. Build. Live.


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