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The Science Behind House/Building Pads

The Science of House/Building Pads

Getting quality dirt work done is the first major phase of construction for a new house or any building. It sets the stage for finding the right building contractor to do your pad. Starting the pad off on the right foot is important. This blog focuses on the dirt work involved with site preparation and building house pads, drainage, and your dreams for your homestead that will serve as the foundation to your design and imagination. In new house construction in the U.S. the terrain varies tremendously. The work of site clearing and pad construction needs to be contracted by a grading driver that has experience dealing with all types of terrains. For this reason especially, you must understand what is involved in site and pad preparation and make sure it is done right. Mistakes can be costly, up front and over time.

One of the most important factors in getting a quality house pad is choosing a good, experienced grading operator or contractor. Houses pads are typically built on compacted earth pads which are leveled and raised slightly above the surrounding terrain to assure good drainage. Proper grading can require tremendous dirt work with lots of cutting and filling. Too many houses built on fill dirt have settled over time, causing extensive structural damage that is expensive and very difficult to repair.

It is also very important that the pad be built to proper size to accommodate the house (or houses) and other structures. If these are forgotten during site preparation, it becomes very difficult for the house builder to get this done, and done properly, before or during construction of the house itself, and might delay house construction from the beginning. It is a good idea to have the house builder periodically inspect the pad construction process so that the construction

of buildings can start without delays.

Land Clearing

Most farms require some type of land or tree clearing. The future site of construction must be free from all tree stumps, major roots, clearing piles, existing buildings, or any other obstructions prior to pad construction. The pad contractor must not bury clearing debris under pads or roads. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR THE


Pad Preparation

The grading contractor should have considerable experience with site preparation for housing pads. Housing/building pads must provide the builder with adequate space, leveling, and compaction for constructing the houses. House pads should be at least 10 feet wider and 10 feet longer than the house dimensions, built up at least 12 inches above the surrounding grade, and graded within three inches of level from end to end and side to side. Pads must be designed and constructed to withstand erosion from weather and heavy equipment.The house pads must also have gradual slopes that can be mowed.

Proper Drainage and Erosion Control

All graded areas must provide proper drainage in all weather conditions without erosion. This means that pads must not hold water and roads must be passable in any weather conditions. Preventing erosion may require installing drainage ditches where necessary, and establishing a good ground cover around the perimeter of the house pads, loading areas, and access roads. It is usually the home owners responsibility to establish and maintain grass cover around houses. A mix of cool weather and warm weather grasses is ideal. This is especially critical in highly erosive soils.

The pad builder should dress the entire perimeter of the site so the home owner is able to operate mowing equipment around all houses. If the site is left unmanageable, the grower will often times spray a harsh herbicide on the area, resulting in total loss of all vegetation and causing erosion in the next good rain- fall. Planting low-growing grass varieties can reduce maintenance requirements. It is good to do your research on the area that you live to know why type of grass will do best for your terrain.

The Bottom Line

If the house builder arrives at the site to begin house construction and finds that pad and site preparation are inadequate, repairs may cost the home owner thousands of dollars. Such unplanned expenses, that will not be included in the budget of the home loan, can be a significant immediate cash expense for the home owner.

If site and pad preparation problems, especially in compacting fill dirt, are not detected before the house is built, subsequent problems caused by house settling, erosion, flooding, etc., can cause a serious cash flow drain for years down the road.

Cutting corners to save money on site preparation and pad construction is not recommended. It is a good idea to hold back final payment to the pad contractor until after the builder begins construction on the houses or accepts the pad quality. Also, be sure to include all site preparation costs in your overall total costs when planning and negotiating your loan.

Visit us at or call 1-405-275-9068 for a "Free Estimate" or to ask any questions. Serving the Greater Central Oklahoma Area!

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