Grading dozers, dirt and buried treasure

Grading is about as un-pretentious a trade as there is.  It’s not that it isn’t technical (minimum compaction requirements, moisture content, etc) but it is inherently rough in its execution.  Let’s just say it’s not fussy work.  DSC_0739_alt1

Two major goals needed to be accomplished during the grading process: 1) adjust existing grade levels according to the final design conditions and 2) compact the soils according to the bearing requirements of the structural design. For our project, since we are not proposing major changes to the overall topography of the site, the latter goal took the most time to accomplish. The compaction process consists of excavating the existing soil, removing loose organic/irregular materials (roots, old pipes, etc) and replacing and compacting the clean soil along with appropriate amount of moisture added.

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We had a LOT of organic material in the dirt that needed to be separated out. If this wasn’t Carlsbad we would have a large bonfire in our future.


Buried treasure came in the form of an old septic tank. I was really hoping for dinosaur bones or a holy relic of some sort but thus far we’ve come up empty. Of course, if we had found anything of archaeological significance the whole site would get declared a preserve and we’d have to find somewhere else to build so I guess I’ll count my blessings.

Prior to moving any dirt our surveyor came out and staked reference points for the major outlines of the building. These were used as the reference points during the grading process.

Now that grading is complete we can really start to get a sense of the spaces that will eventually take shape. Granted, I should already have a handle on the nature of the spaces, but this is the first time I haven’t had to navigate my visualizing around existing building and vegetation, something a designer and layman can both appreciate.

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At this point grading is complete and the site is prepped for the start of building construction.



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Next up: trenching and foundation work.

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