Site Preparation 101

Doesn’t site prep seem tedious? And it certainly can be. There’s a decent amount of coordination that goes into it. For those of us that are not overly organized, it’s not exactly an exciting part of the building process. Needless to say, this won’t make site prep go away, but it’s designed to inform you to make the site prep for your next building as simple and painless as it can be.

What is Site Preparation and why does it mean more work for me?

Site prep is the work done on your land prior to construction–finalizing location details, gaining access to the site, drainage, and more. This process allows you to identify site complications up front, and address them before construction begins. It’s designed to set you and your building up to succeed. Although, it is more work for you up front, it has the potential to save you time and money. Problems are much easier (and cheaper) to correct before equipment and schedules are involved.

Building Location & Elevation

Let’s start simple. Part of this step may seem obvious, and part of it might make you scratch your head. It’s a “no-brainer” that you get to make the final decision on the exact location of your new building. When deciding, consider the flow of people and equipment–especially if you have multiple buildings. The road and/or driveway contribute to more that just “curb appeal,” but there’s no harm in factoring in aesthetics as well.

The less obvious “location” decision you’ll be making is the elevation of your building. “Wait, what?” Yes, you get to decide what you want the elevation to be. How on earth are you supposed to make that decision? Here’s what to remember: elevation impacts drainage and managing where the water flows. Your builder will be glad to help you decide what’s best for your unique property and building needs.

Site Access

Of course you’re already planning out how you’ll access your finished building, but what about your builder? Good site access allows equipment and materials to be delivered easily. Here’s what you’ll want to factor in:

  • Road, driveway, and culvert width
  • Location of mailbox
  • Location of power lines
  • Location of existing buildings, bins, etc.
  • Location of trees
  • Turning radius of semis

Perimeter Access

“Wait… you just talked about site access.” Yes, that’s correct! This one is a little different than the last. Site access is all about getting people onto your site easily, perimeter access focuses on people and equipment once they are on site. The construction crew needs room to move around. Maintaining a clear and dry perimeter will allow materials, equipment, and crews to move swiftly. A stockpile of fill or gravel material near the building pad may restrict equipment flow or retain water.


If you think this your builder’s responsibility, you’re absolutely right. Your builder should value safety and take steps to assure you of that. Some job site hazards are already on your site and you may not even realize it. Here are a few safety hazards that you can check on before a crew gets to your site:
  • Verify where private utilities are buried to avoid hitting them when digging.
  • Give your construction coordinator a list of the public utility companies that service your property.
  • Plan to have power lines shut off or relocated if within ten feet of the building to avoid risk of electrical shock.
  • Move telephone lines within three feet of work area.
  • Trash containment must be available on site prior to FBi Buildings mobilization. Nobody wants anything or anyone to get hit by windblown debris.

Preparing your Site

Drainage – A good plan for drainage means no erosion or flooding later, so to say “it’s a big deal” is an understatement. Corrugated drain tile will improve sub surface drainage. Installing the tile prior to site prep will reduce rework. Also–an insider tip–connect the downspouts to a tile system. This will allow the water to be directed to strategic areas.
Soil Types – Would you believe us if we said that not every type of soil can handle your building load? Well, believe it! Now that you have this valuable information, it’s important to be sure your building isn’t going up on the wrong soil. A layer of coarse stone over the soil base reduces capillary action and helps drain water away.

Building Pad – Ask us what the foundation for the success of your building project is, and we’ll tell you it’s the building pad. The end goal of site preparation is to set your building on a solid surface where it will stay dry. Your lot should have good, firm soil and be sloped to drain water away from your building. Proper grading will achieve the slope.

Want help?

That is a lot of information. Do you feel overwhelmed? You’re not in this alone! Work with a builder who will facilitate the ideal site layout and building location. Your builder will help you design a building that will work for your site, and they’ll consider the implication of total project costs. They will pull the excavator and engineer in early, and lead the permitting process for you. Save yourself time and money by getting your site work done right and done early.

Have more questions about site preparation not covered in this article? Download your free guide today! If you need help with your site preparation process, please contact FBi Buildings at 1.800.552.2981 or click here to email us. If you are ready to get a price, click here to request a quote and a member of our sales team will call you!


FBi Site Prep