Dirt work sets the foundation for your building’s foundation, so it must be done right. Otherwise, that foundation, and eventually the building itself, will be stressed by underlying soil conditions.
Along the Gulf Coast, proper site preparation is especially important. Some of the most challenging conditions for foundation work are located here, where weather and soil composition combine to make site preparation extra tough.
That’s why you’ll want a reputable site preparation service to manage your dirt work. Experienced site preparation crews are familiar with the challenges associated with dirt work in their area and will use best practices to ensure your foundation is the definition of stable.
What’s Included With Dirt Work and Site Preparation Services?
Dirt work, site work, site preparation – you may hear these terms used interchangeably, but they all get at the same idea. Site preparation services are about getting a patch of land ready for construction. Whether it’s for a towering high rise or a new warehouse, you can’t build until the site is prepped.
But what does prepping a site involve? Depending on the project, the following services may be provided:
- Demolition and land clearing – Before your project can be started, all obstructions must first be removed. If there are existing buildings already on the property, the site preparation team will dismantle or destroy them, then safely dispose of the wreckage.
Once demolition is complete, or if demolition isn’t required, the site preparation team will clear the land of any natural obstructions. This includes trees, tree stumps, shrubs, bushes and large rocks.
- Grading – In construction, grading refers to the process of leveling out the land or creating a specific slope for the build. Grading is necessary for foundations, base courses and drainage systems.
- Soil testing – Soil testing is handled by an independent expert and a sample of the soil must be provided for this purpose. During testing, the soil’s capacity for water absorption and its ability to handle compressive force are determined. If the soil is considered too risky to build on, another build site may need to be secured.
- Site surveying – If the soil is appropriate for building on, the site preparation team may need to survey the build site. Surveying is necessary for zoning and local building ordinances, and it will also map out where the foundation will go for future work.
- Excavation – Excavation refers to the actual dirt-moving process during site preparation. It’s necessary for digging out trenches, wall shafts and foundations.
- Pad preparation – The pad is what the building’s slab foundation sits on and it must be prepared separately. During pad prep, the dirt that will sit under the foundation is piled up and compacted using heavy machinery.
- Base course installation – The base course is what sits under an asphalt roadway, foundation, or sidewalk and provides a stable foundation. Also termed ABC, base course is made up of small pieces of aggregate, usually 2” in length or smaller.
Five Signs That You’re Working With a Reputable Site Preparation Service
There’s a lot involved in site preparation, and a lot can go wrong if you don’t have a reputable site preparation service handling the job. To ensure everything goes right, here are five things to look for in a dirt work expert:
- Experience – When it comes to dirt work, there are things you can only learn on the job. Knowing what tests are required, for example, ensures your site is properly prepared. Does your site prep company know to facilitate a compaction test? Do they know when a geotechnical report is required?
Does the site prep crew have a plan in place if the weather doesn’t cooperate? Do they have the process planned out in case delays occur? Can they explain the site preparation process in detail? They didn’t leave out soil compaction or testing, right?
If the dirt work team doesn’t observe every step of the process, it can end up costing you thousands in repairs in the future. An experienced site preparation team is one that focuses on best practices, ensuring they don’t leave anything out. An experienced team is more likely to be well-connected to other contractors, so if outside assistance is needed to complete the project or maintain site resources, they will know who to call.
- General liability insurance – General liability insurance is “business insurance,” in that it covers the kind of claims that could emerge during site preparation work. This includes bodily injuries and property damage, both of which you’ll want to be protected from during dirt work. Without general liability insurance in place, you may be held responsible for any accidents that occur on the work site.
- A strong project portfolio – Experience is good, but a strong customer portfolio is even better. The dirt work team you choose should have plenty of photos, documentation, and customer testimonials to back up their work.
The site preparation service you choose should be happy to provide contact information for their previous clients, so you can follow up and discuss the results of their projects.
- Lean and green construction practices – Industry data shows that productivity among construction companies has dropped in the last decade. That loss of productivity means higher costs for customers, and to counter this, reputable dirt work providers have implemented productivity-boosting measures like Lean and green construction practices.
Lean practices are those that have been made as efficient as possible. Waste is minimized, in terms of material and labor. With more efficient processes, reputable dirt crews get the job done faster, safer, and with greater cost efficiency.
Green practices are also emerging among top site prep crews, for a couple reasons. For one, green construction practices utilize recycled material to reduce waste. That means less goes to the landfill, and as many landfills will no longer take waste asphalt or concrete, green construction reduces material costs to contractors and, by extension, their clients.
- A local presence – Every region’s dirt is different and presents its own site prep challenges. Sticking with a local site preparation crew means you’ll have a team that is familiar with how the dirt behaves in their area. That’s very important, because dirt compacts differently, responds to weather differently, and supports weight differently, depending on its composition. A local team will know what to expect with your project and flag potential issues before they become costly delays.
Site Preparation is a Dirty Job, But We’re Here to do it Right
American Parking Control is a leading provider of site preparation, paving and concrete construction services in Houston. We’ve established APC in one of the toughest parts of the country for site preparation, and we’ve optimized our processes as a result.
Our team has been tested in challenging work and environmental conditions, and our added experience in concrete and asphalt projects means we can align your project’s goals with best site preparation practices.