Some homesites will requires days or weeks of site prep. This post is designed to help you think through the potential tasks needed to prepare your land – tree clearing, fill dirt, retaining wall, and drainage.
1. Clearing trees and preparing your homesite
Many homesites will require some tree clearing. Sometimes the builder will do this prior to listing the lot for sale, others will leave the site untouched allowing you to decide with your builder which trees stay and which trees go. You will want a professional to evaluate the trees on the property and determine which ones are healthy and if any are not. You will also want to speak with the excavator and your builder about preserving the trees you would like to keep. Sometimes the heavy equipment the excavator uses can damage the root systems so make sure there is a plan to avoid the root systems of the trees that will remain.
Some homesites will also require more dirt to be brought to the site. This is often done when the home is being built on a lot that is not already flat. The extra dirt can help create a flat area or a less steep hill to build on. Talk to your builder about this and where the dirt is coming from. Many times there are nearby construction sites with excess dirt. If there is free dirt nearby, you could save yourself some money..
If it is determined that extra dirt will be needed, ask if a retaining wall is necessary to keep the dirt where you want it.. Depending on the grade of the land and the amount of dirt needed, a retaining wall may or may not be needed. There are retaining wall materials to consider as well. Ask about the longevity, cost, and functionality of wood, poured cement, and cement blocks. Think through the pros and cons of the options. Do you want to have to maintain the wall? Wood will require some maintenance. Are you concerned with the look of the wall? Many find cement block more visually appealing than poured cement.
2. Drainage away from your home
To avoid water penetration, the land surrounding your home needs to be properly graded so water runs away from your home instead of towards it. This should be done when the foundation is poured and again when the home is near the end of construction.
3. Drainage under the yard
At this time you will also see large black tubes on your homesite, or at least you should. This is used to help with drainage. You don’t want your gutters to pour water onto your yard, so they will be attached to these tubes that run under your yard and dump water away from your home. Some builders take the water out just far enough to be a safe distance from your home. Ask if they will consider running the tubes to the end of your yard (assuming it isn’t 3 acres). Wherever the tube ends is where the water will be, so if possible run them to the woods or another area of your property that won’t be used much.