What Is Site Development and Why Is It Essential in Commercial Construction?

Site development is a crucial aspect of new commercial construction projects. From the initial planning stages to the actual construction, a comprehensive understanding of site development can lead to the efficient use of resources, cost effectiveness, and a successful project outcome. This article aims to explain what site development is, why it is essential in commercial construction, and the steps involved in it.

Understanding Site Development in Commercial Construction

Proper site planning and preparation sets the stage for the entire build and can have ramifications throughout the structure’s life. Let’s explore what exactly site development entails and why it is essential:

Definition of Site Development

Site development refers to the preliminary work of preparing a site to construct a commercial building or facility. This includes land clearing, soil testing, surveying the area, planning utility routes, building access roads, excavating, grading, and more. The goal is to transform raw land into a pad-ready site with all the necessary access, infrastructure, and groundwork for the builder to begin actual construction.

Reasons Why Site Development Is Essential for Commercial Construction Projects

There are several key reasons proper site development is crucial in a commercial build:

  • It identifies potential issues with the site upfront before construction begins. Things like soil problems, contamination, boundary disputes, access limitations, etc. can all be uncovered and addressed.
  • Grading, leveling, and excavating the appropriate building footprint and access early on creates an efficient, safe job site once vertical building starts.
  • Early routing and installation of utilities and infrastructure saves costs and prevents having to retrofit once construction is underway.
  • Proper site prep enables the builder to optimize the site layout and design for factors like drainage, sunlight, traffic flow, etc.

How Site Development Effects All Project Phases

Because site development happens at the very outset, it impacts almost every subsequent phase of the commercial construction process, including:

  • Design: The site survey and planning inform building design factors like placement, orientation, layout, drainage needs, etc.
  • Permit: Site factors may impose permitting requirements for issues like habitat protection, traffic, soil disturbance, etc.
  • Foundations: Geotechnical testing determines foundation needs based on soil conditions.
  • Utilities: Early coordination of electrical, water, gas, sewer, and data utilities while the site is open avoids issues later.
  • Access: Building proper temporary and permanent roads and parking early creates efficient site logistics.
  • Schedule: Uncovering issues during site development allows time to resolve before crews mobilize.
  • Safety: Smoothing terrain and abating hazards prevents injuries later during the build.
  • Infrastructure: Well-planned infrastructure placement enables flexibility in building design options.
  • Costs: Doing site work efficiently at the outset reduces change orders.

Like site development, pre construction planning is a vital aspect of effective construction. Explore our article on its impact on new build projects to find out additional information.

Essential Steps Involved in Site Development

While site development processes can vary by project, some typical key steps include:

Construction Site Planning

Crafting a well-thought-out construction site plan is like drawing a blueprint for success. Detailed site plans are curated, depicting the desired finished grades, temporary roads, excavation zones, and stormwater management areas.
This planning extends to various elements, such as construction access and parking, equipment and material staging areas, temporary utility setups, security fencing, waste management protocols, and stormwater control measures. Every detail is accounted for, ensuring an organized and streamlined construction process.

Site Survey in Construction

At the heart of any site development lies a comprehensive survey. This involves delving into public records, scrutinizing boundary lines, utility placements, and legalities like easements and rights of way. Simultaneously, onsite surveys capture the topography, boundary intricacies, utility networks, wetlands, and potential hazards. These surveys serve as the foundation, identifying factors that could influence project plans and costs.

Testing Soil

Understanding the soil composition is pivotal. Soil samples collected from various points around the site undergo rigorous lab analysis. This scrutiny determines soil type, stability, bearing capacity, and contamination levels. The results guide decisions on stabilizing or reinforcing the soil, addressing contamination issues, and planning drainage requirements.

Land Clearing

Efficient land clearing is vital for preparing the site for subsequent activities. This phase involves the removal and disposal of trees, vegetation, existing structures, and debris. However, a reasonable approach is essential. Unnecessary tree clearing is avoided, with clearing limits adjusted based on the final design. This strategic clearing sets the stage for further groundwork.

Back view of four construction workers standing next to each other at a construction site

Information You Can Gather With Proper Construction Site Planning and Development

Proper planning and development of a construction site is critical to ensure the project runs smoothly. Many types of important information can be gathered through comprehensive site planning and investigation. This allows the construction team to anticipate challenges, coordinate logistics, comply with regulations, and minimize risks. Some critical pieces of information that site planning reveals include:

Amount of Dirt

A site survey and soil analysis detail the amount and type of soil present. This determines how much dirt needs to be excavated or brought in to prepare the site properly. The team can quantify cut and fill requirements to balance earthwork. Geotechnical data also identifies soil conditions requiring special foundations or ground improvement.

Drainage Options

The survey maps site topography and adjacent drainage facilities. Civil engineers can model runoff patterns and design systems to control stormwater onsite. This may include grading for proper slope, retention ponds, French drains, ditches, or connection to municipal storm sewers. Adequate drainage prevents flooding and erosion during construction and occupancy.

Zoning Compliance

Reviewing local zoning ordinances and land use maps ensures the project adheres to any restrictions on building size, height, density, or use. The site plan illustrates setbacks, allowable building envelope, parking requirements, and code constraints. Zoning information enables the design team to develop a compliant facility layout. This prevents delays for rezoning applications or variances.

Underground Utility Issues From Neighboring Structures

Researching public records and utility maps and conducting site probes reveals the location of underground utilities. This allows the contractor to avoid damaging adjacent water, sewer, gas, electric, or telecom infrastructure when excavating or drilling onsite. Accidentally hitting underground utilities can be dangerous, incur penalties, and cause unexpected downtime.

Parking Solutions for Construction Crew

Designating adequate parking for the contractor team prevents issues in the surrounding neighborhood. The site plan reserves space for worker vehicles, deliveries, and equipment storage. Parking must also account for different phases of construction. A traffic control scheme manages ingress/egress and street access. This maintains safety and mobility near the active job site.

Operating Hour Conflicts

Investigating nearby properties determines if construction noise or traffic will impact sensitive receptors like schools, residences, or businesses. City permits may limit allowable work hours or require mitigation like sound barriers. The team can proactively address noise concerns by adjusting the schedule or work methods to minimize disruption. The building team can also work with you to avoid construction phases during critical business hours to avoid disrupting your operations or impacting your customers.

From Site Development to Flawless Construction Execution, SHF Is Your Comprehensive Contractor

Since 2004, SHF has built its reputation as the Las Vegas area’s go-to contractor for all stages of construction. We are committed to delivering flawless execution on time and budget, and we know that starts with meticulous site development services. Contact us today to discuss your project and begin developing a construction site planning strategy.

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