Completing a commercial construction project is never an easy endeavor. With the many stages involved and the array of tasks completed linearly, even the most experienced property developer or project owner is prone to feeling overwhelmed.
However, the process is often so much easier if one is well-versed with it. That is why this article offers an overview of the commercial site development process, so you can know what you are signing up for if you are considering investing in a commercial building.
What is Construction Activity?
Construction activity is any operation done by an individual or a team in either a large or small construction site. Such operations include but are not limited to:
- Land clearing
What is Construction Site Development?
Construction site development refers to the improvements done to prepare a site for construction. It is the first and most crucial step towards a successful commercial construction project. Why? Initiating a construction project without proper site development may interfere with the project’s plan midway, hinder the approval of building permits, and poses significant financial and even legal risks for the project developer or investor.
The Construction Site Development Process
Now that you know why site development is crucial, here is a breakdown of the steps that must be taken before the commercial construction project begins;
1. Site Surveying
If a surveyor does not mark out your site, construction cannot begin. A survey needs to be done to determine the correct site and line where the project should be built. A survey also enables the contractors to verify the appropriate horizontal and vertical location of the proposed structure.
2. Soil Testing
Soil testing is one of the most critical steps in the construction site development process. It involves the assessment of the composition and the condition of the soil on site. The test is done to evaluate the soil’s structural integrity and determine whether it can hold the weight of the proposed building, its water drainage capability, and how well it can withstand harsh climatic conditions in the future. Soil testing is a legal and inescapable step in site development.
Unfortunately, if the soil is marked as unsuitable, there’s no other choice but to look for a different site. Based on the test, the site’s soil may fall in either of the following categories:
- Class A: this type of site soil consists of sand and rock and is usually not affected by moisture. Class A soil is acceptable, which means the site development process can continue.
- Class S: Consists of slightly reactive soil and is somewhat affected by moisture changes. Construction can also continue, but precautions must be taken.
- Class M: consists of moderately reactive soil and is susceptible to moderate ground movement due to moisture changes
- Class H1 and H2: If your soil test puts you in this category, then the site has highly reactive soil and will experience high ground movement due to moisture.
- Class E: This is exceptionally reactive soil, and will experience extreme ground movement. Not suitable for construction.
- Class P: mostly soft soil such as clay and loose sand. It is also extremely reactive and is subject to abnormal moisture levels. Not suitable for construction.
3. Site Clearing
Before construction begins, the ground needs to be clear and completely leveled. This means clearing any trees that may be on it and any underground utilities that may hinder the construction process. Sometimes, the site may even have buildings in good condition. These need to be demolished and cleared from the site.
4. Site Investigation
Site investigation is similar to soil testing only that this time, the geotechnical investigators do it to evaluate rock composition and groundwater conditions on the site to determine how the foundation of the proposed project should be built.
5. Site Plan Design
After surveying, soil testing, site clearing, and site investigation, the project contractors and architects must create a site plan. Also known as the plot plan or the blueprint, the site plan is a drawing that shows where what will be. It shows what exists on the site and what will be on it after the proposed project is complete. For instance, the plan shows where the building will be on the site, where the access road will be constructed, and where all the underground utilities such as septic systems will be installed.
A site plan is crucial as it proves to government officials that both state and local building regulations and codes were adhered to during the construction of the proposed building. It also serves as a map in the future should you need to make any additions or changes to the proposed building.
What is Shown on a Site Plan?
Although the information on a site plan varies from one project to another, most site plans often include:
- Your contact information
- Key dimensions
- Property lines
- Location details
- Key materials
- Existing and proposed structures
How Do You Read a Site Plan?
Since it shows all the proposed improvements on a construction site, a site plan keeps you well-informed of what’s happening throughout the entire process. Therefore, every party involved, from the general contractor to the builders, must understand how it’s read for a hassle-free construction process. That said, the key to understanding a site plan is knowing what it includes. A typical site plan usually has:
- A Cover page: here you find the drawing of the proposed project.
- The Title Block: It typically appears at the beginning of the plan. The title block contains vital information about the project. For instance, it tells you the project’s name and the reference number, who drew the site plan, when it was drawn, its scale, and even who approved it. The title block also contains the architect’s contact information.
- The Revision Block: In this section, you will find information concerning any changes that may have occurred, and when they occurred.
- The Drawing Scale: A site plan is a smaller version of the proposed project. The drawing scale tells you the difference between the print size and the actual project.
- The Key Notes: Architects and building engineers often note down any information they think could not be interpreted from the drawing and the scales to help laypeople understand better as keynotes. They may write them directly on the plan or attach a separate document. Be sure to go through these notes too.
- General Notes: This section provides any technical information applicable to the drawing.
- Legend: If you’re not a construction guru, understanding blueprint symbols can be somewhat daunting. Luckily, all symbols used in the blueprint are usually defined in this section.
Starting Your Construction Site Development
Every commercial construction project involves a series of tasks, much decision-making, and many people. Site development is just the first and also one of the most critical steps, which can be pretty overwhelming. Having a well-established, reputable, and licensed full-service contractor like Stovall Construction by your side is the secret recipe to hacking it.