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Homebuilding Enemy No. 1: How to Beat the Weather while Building Your Home

Categories: Building Process | Posted: December 17, 2018

When planning a home, it’s incredibly tempting to get wrapped up in the details of the house itself, but what many homeowners don’t realize is that there’s this giant piece of the puzzle completely outside the home that often dictates how the entire build will go . . . this one so-very-often-overlooked factor that decides whether construction will flow smoothly and can actually reduce the number of days it takes to build your home OR will sabotage every single step and make the whole construction process excessively more difficult.

What is this thing that could so influence the construction of your home?  Home site access!

A property’s site conditions are the true foundation for a future home.  When you’re building on your property, you must keep in mind that simply building the structure is not the only thing you need to take into consideration for your timeline.  In my experience (over 22 years in construction), no two properties are alike when it comes to site conditions and site access.  We’ve seen property with soil that holds quite a bit of water, then moved about half a mile down the road to find soil that is completely different and dries up quickly!

The biggest cause of delay when building a home is rain.  Anything that can be done to help alleviate obstacles that could be amplified by weather will help to speed up the build.

What can you do?

  1. Establish lot access (or allow us to do it) – this means a driveway of some sort! It does not mean just getting onto the property.  The main question you need to ask is, after a rain, could a delivery truck get materials to my home site?  If you’re not sure, be sure to talk with the Project Manager who meets you for Site Evaluation!  Many homeowners are concerned about putting a driveway down early and having the construction trucks make a mess of it, but PLEASE KEEP IN MIND, contrary to popular opinion, a driveway is not all or nothing!  You can set down a decent base and then top it off or concrete finish it towards the end of construction.  Any money you think you may be saving by not doing so is generally far outweighed by the amount of soil that will need to be brought in, as well as the work and funds it will take to repair the property and area before putting down a permanent driveway.
  2. Establish delivery space – is there room to safely drop materials on your site around the actual home? There are dumpsters, palettes of brick, framing materials, etc. that will need to be dropped off within workable distance from your actual home.  Can that be done safely?  Ideally, from that stable driveway so delivery trucks aren’t getting stuck!

Homeowner Story 1:  Access to the actual build site

I once worked with a homeowner who decided to build up a pad to put his home and driveway on.  Instead of bringing dirt in, he hired a company to dig a pond on the property (which is a very common practice).  The dirt from the pond ended up being what we call “blackjack” dirt, meaning that the soil is mostly clay which is very sticky and does not compact well at all.  It turned out that the entire property was covered with blackjack.  Just because the property was “cleared” to the house, he thought he’d established “home site access,” but in reality, there was nowhere to safely drive to the actual build area.  We ended up adding a 200-foot limestone driveway to the property, which didn’t give us a supportive enough base due to the blackjack dirt underneath.  On a daily basis, subcontractor after subcontractor got stuck and we were continually having to tow them out.  This caused months of delay since it meant almost completely stopping construction every time it rained and for days, even weeks, afterward.

Homeowner Story 2:  Room to deliver materials

A different homeowner I was building for decided to install a very sturdy limestone driveway which was 150 feet long.  It was safe for the trucks, amazing for access and absolutely helped us complete the build in a more timely manner.  The house was placed on a large dirt pad, but the property was densely wooded.  Due to this, the few open areas on the property consistently held standing water.  This made it difficult to have material delivered, since there was not a lot of space to put it down.  The problem with not having enough area for the material is that subcontractors had to wait on material to be delivered, instead of having the materials already on-site and ready for use.  This caused subcontractors to reschedule.


 

 

-Written by our Project Manager in the Baton Rouge Region, Jason Foster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haleigh Garcia

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