GRADING, GROUND REMOVAL, GRAVEL, AND FILL STANDARDS
It is the intention of this standard to assist in obtaining a uniform acceptable understanding of grading and related problems. The standard is not meant to supersede or substitute for other restrictions placed by agencies or communities. It is for this reason no mention is made as to FHA requirements or disputes that may arise as a result of similar agencies. Such agencies have written manuals or means of arbitrating such disputes. Because this phase of construction dealing with the movement of earth is so broad and ambiguous, since each site is unique unto itself and subject to the most diverse contractual relationships, it is thus necessary to establish certain “ground rules” or definitions for phases of work. If finished grading or landscaping is not included in the building contract, it is of absolute necessity the owner promptly follow through with his grading and landscaping responsibilities and maintain a positive slope away from the foundation, including refilling any settled backfilled and trenched areas.
The lack of proper maintenance in this area may cause foundation failure that will not be covered by the builder.
To remove soil to the level and outline of the proposed footings in such a way as to permit material delivery for the mason to commence work. Excavated soil is normally cast (dropped on the property) around the foundation except where lot size, site conditions and/or elevation requires its removal. Trucking costs are the responsibility of the owner.
Hauling away excess ground or supplying and hauling in required fill, unless otherwise specified in the contract, is the responsibility of the owners.
To fill the exterior around a foundation or in a trench using a bulldozer or other necessary mechanical equipment utilizing only the ground which was available from such excavation or trench. The purpose of backfilling is to improve working conditions for further construction; attempt to protect the foundation from the elements such as frost, water etc., reduce the hazards inherent to open basements or foundations and get the process of ground settlement started which could take three or more years depending upon the type of soil. Builder is not responsible for settling.
Using mechanical equipment, the grader provides drainage away from the foundation, in such a way to indicate approximate grades at the building, walks, patios, and driveways. This is normally done on an allowance specified in the contract. Builder is not responsible for settling.
Using mechanical equipment and the dirt on the site, the grader establishes the yard grade within two inches of final landscaped grade with respect to the building, walks, drive and adjoining properties. Depending on the terms of the contract this would ordinarily include the entire lot. This is normally contracted for by the owner and is the step just prior to landscaping.
Using light machinery or hand labor the grader finishes establishment of final grade, sodding or seeding, and provides ornamental shrubbery, trees and other planting. This is normally contracted for by the owner.
Site, Drainage and Erosion
Site drainage must comply with all applicable building codes in jurisdiction. All sites must be prepared initially to prevent or reduce erosion from excessive water run off. All contractual agreements made between parties will take precedents over guidelines. Homeowner maintenance is required after the possession of site. Common Defects or Problems:
1. Common Defect or Problem – Settling of ground foundation, sewer or septic trenches and gravel-fill-in garage area after backfill operations.
Performance Standard – Backfilled ground will settle. In fact, it is the intent to permit settling before further grading is done.
Builder Repair Responsibility – To the extent provided in the building contract, the builder is to perform the initial backfilling. Where the builder is not responsible by contract for finish grade or landscaping, the builder shall not be responsible for normal settling of backfilled or trenched areas. Lines installed by the Builder that settle excessively shall be repaired by the builder during the first year. Owner’s Responsibility – Unless otherwise specified by contract, fill in such depression as they occur or as soon as possible to avoid other related problems.
2. Common Defect or Problem – Wet basement walls after backfilling, due to insufficient slope away from the foundation when builder is responsible for backfill and/or rough grading only. “Wet” shall be defined as actual water running or trickling from, through or under the basement wall and onto the floor thus puddling or eventually finding the floor drain. Dampness of the walls particularly at the upper two (2) and lower (1) foot are common to new construction and should not be construed as “wet”.
Performance Standard – Wet walls are usually a result of sunken areas around the foundation since the owner’s grading hasn’t been done. But even if there are no depressions, this is still not a builder responsibility since he is only doing the backfilling and/or rough grading. The subsequent proper grading and landscaping should eliminate damp or wet basements.
Builder Repair Responsibility – Backfill in accordance to item #1.
3. Common Defect or Problem – Wet basement walls due to insufficient slope and drainage away from foundation when builder has contracted for finish grading.
Performance Standard – While some dampness is normal, wall should not be wet as defined in item #2 above.
Builder Repair Responsibility – If landscaping is owner’s contractual responsibility and not completed within 30 days of finished grading, there is no builder responsibility. Otherwise, builder should correct slope as needed, other costs incidental to such correction are borne by the builder. Owner Responsibility – Fill in depressions, as they occur, due to settling. Direct downspouts and sump pump discharge from foundation and use extensions as needed. The owner’s proper landscaping should eliminate a wet basement.
4. Common Defect or Problem – Improper drainage of the site .
Performance Standard – The builder, to insure proper drainage away from the home, shall have established the necessary preliminary grades and swells. Standing or ponding water shall not remain for periods in excess of 48 hours in the immediate area after a rain, except that in swales which drain other areas, or in areas where sump pumps discharge, a longer period can be anticipated. Consideration must be given to the type of soil present and to the relationship to surrounding terrain. The possibility of standing water after an unusually heavy rainfall should be anticipated. No grading determination shall be made while there is frost or snow on the ground, or while the ground is saturated.
Builder Repair Responsibility – The builder will try to establish the proper grades and swales based on soil conditions, site, and weather conditions. The homeowner is responsible for maintaining such grades and swales once they have been established.
5. Common Defect or Problem – Heavy rains will cause erosion where grass and sod has not had time to be permanently established. Additional landscaping by homeowner or his agent can change the topography of site.
Performance Standard – The defects or problems can be determined by visual inspection or by additional information gathered at site inspection.
Builder Repair Responsibility – Repair to original finish as closely as possible. Repairs, if required by inspection, will be made no more than one time during first year.
7. Common Defect or Problem – Water appears on interior crawl space surfaces.
Performance Standard – Crawl spaces should be graded and drained properly to prevent water from accumulating deeper than ¾ inch and larger than 36 inches in diameter in crawl space area. Standing or ponding water shall not remain for extended periods after a rain (generally, no more than 48 hours) except in surfaces that drain other areas where sump pumps discharge. In these areas a longer period can be anticipated. The possibility of standing water after an unusually heavy rainfall should be anticipated by the owner.
Builder Repair Responsibility – The Builder will take the necessary corrective measures to create positive flow within the crawl space to discharge to exterior of the structure.