Site Clearing

The first step to take before starting the site clearing is to establish the exact position of the building from your site plan which will show all the plot measurements, positions for drainage, etc. Mark out areas which need to be levelled, lowered or raised to give you the correct floor heights for your building. The levels can be established by using a builder's level or theodolite - if you are not familiar with this process you may choose to have the levels established by a surveyor, particularly if there is a lot of earthmoving and re-shaping required.

BobcatYou may need to hire specialist clearing and digging equipment and certainly, when it comes to earth moving and excavating for foundations, a mechanical digger can save much time and effort. Your local Buildbase or Hirebase depot will be able to advise and assist with your requirements if you are planning to handle this work yourself. Alternatively there are many specialist firms offering site clearance who will hire out equipment and experienced drivers to do this for you.

Next you will need to start clearing away trees, bushes and other obstructions. Only the trees and plants that are to be retained as part of your plan should remain on the property. If there are any well established trees planned for removal a check should first be made that there are no preservation orders in force on them. The Planning Service, an Agency within the Department of the Environment is responsible for enforcing Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) and more details can be found here: TPO Information.

Then you will need to level the plot in accordance with your survey markings. Once the plot is cleared and levelled, you can start the process of marking out for your building foundations. Typically you will stake the corners of the areas to be dug out for the foundations so the lines and areas are clearly visible. Make sure any existing underground services like electricity, water and gas supplies are clearly marked and identified so that these are not damaged when digging out.

Normally you will clear the ground about 2 - 3 feet beyond your marked points to allow room to work when pouring foundation footings, and when doing the block work, drainage preparation and damp proofing. The depth of the foundations required will be specified in your plans.

While you have digging equipment on site you should remember to provide for excavation of any land drains and soak aways that may be required, or swimming pools - it will be cheaper and easier to attend to these while the heavy equipment is on site. You may also consider digging out a disposal pit for later burial of surplus building refuse, this can be more cost effective than paying for skips and waste removal later.

Your planned driveway area should also be levelled and cleared of topsoil, and then covered with a few inches of scalpings to provide a firm base for access by delivery vehicles for building materials and supplies. Good topsoil moved during your site clearance should, if possible, be piled away from the building area for later use when you get to the landscaping stage of your project.

Acknowledgement: Picture by courtesy of AMS Bobcat Ltd




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