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Cutting Teeth On Site Work

 
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Old 10-21-2017, 10:17 PM   #1
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Cutting Teeth On Site Work


Instead of subbing out some site work on a spec house project we are doing (we own it), I'll be doing the stumping/rough grading myself, with the idea being I can "cut my teeth" on this project so we can do the site work in-house for future projects. I'm in the process of getting licensed for operating the excavator. As a hedge, I will also be paying someone to oversee my work (both initially and checking in periodically) during this venture.

The site is on a hill side (slope), which has shallow ledge and lots of glacial till. Approx. 3/4 acre being cleared inc. driveway. Before winter I'd like to get the site stumped, and finish rough grading of the driveway and house site. I'm digging test pits on the corners of the house to check depth to ledge as well. Excavation of basement and other tasks will wait until spring when the foundation will be going in (may sub out excavation of basement depending on how this goes.)

I did have three questions (I'm going to run this by my local guy as well) :

1. I'm renting the excavator (EC140 w/ 5ft grading bucket most likely due to limited selection at local rental places) and assuming I can't get it as a rental as well, I was debating buying a Topcon mounted receiver, and a rotary laser. Specifically, the RL-H4C rotary laser and the LSB110 receiver. I want to be able to check I'm grading it correctly according to the grading plan (done by an LA from a topo survey we had done previously) with just one person (me.) Am I correct in saying I can't effectively use the LS-B10 or LSB100 due to the sloped terrain?

2. Just curious, when using a laser like this, do you also verify using a transit or builder's level after-the-fact that the driveway has the right slope, etc. or do you just "trust" the laser? If so, any recent recommendations on a decent builder's level?

3. As a partial hedge against my inexperiencedness on site work, I'm thinking I'll probably have the surveyor who did the topo come out and stake out points based on the grading plan and proposed position of the house. 4 corners of the house, curves in driveway, grading stakes where appropriate, etc. How typical is it to use a surveyor to do this vs. doing all of the layout/staking yourself? How detailed/what do you have the surveyor do (vs. what you do yourself), if you use them for these types of tasks?

Thanks!
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Old 10-22-2017, 04:21 AM   #2
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Re: Cutting Teeth On Site Work


The slope is created by the spinning laser "level" being placed on the needed slope with the use of the detector at the Needed offset in elevation at a precisely known distance from the laser source, the laser and the slope set point being as close to parallel to the orientation of the the slope.

This model is capable only of a mono slope. The laser would of course have to be set so the work area was either at the high point or low point of rotation, other wise the indicated slope would a fraction of what was desired.

The costlier sensor has added features that alert you to sensor being out of plumb, and thus less accurate...a wireless version is available that allows the use of the sensor out of the operator line of sight with the purchase of the wireless repeater mounted near the operator...

but with the use of an old school camper bubble level mount near the sensor parallel to it in both planes, that could be seen by the operator to confirm the plumbness of the laser detector when grade was being checked.

Our local Topcon dealer has videos and classes every so often to train new users and update old user with new features.

The big trick to this type grading is to select the final elevations/slopes that minimize hauling in or out, a few hours measuring the existing topography and the what the desired end point is would be $ and time well spent. And of course NEVER altering the flow of water onto or off of your plot to avoid costly litigation that you would lose with your neighbors/government ROWs.

My state has a lidar topo map that might help you out as a starting point if something like that is available from US Geo service or a State organ.

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Last edited by Fouthgeneration; 10-22-2017 at 04:33 AM.
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Old 10-23-2017, 08:35 PM   #3
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Re: Cutting Teeth On Site Work


If you know the grade %, you can figure out the elevation drop in 10' increments and check the grade every 10'. I have a dual slope laser, so I can enter grade percentages and the laser will adjust the slope for me so I do not have to keep adjusting the target on the grade pole.

As far as a surveyor, that is very expensive for him to be doing all of that work. Give me 2 points, a benchmark and a set of scaled plans and I can lay everything out and set all grades. Not sure how strict your municipality is, but I have never worked in one that required all grades and slopes for a residential house. Most do require stormwater management plans though.
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Old 10-24-2017, 09:07 AM   #4
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Re: Cutting Teeth On Site Work


In my opinion, equipment mounted laser tools are advanced stuff, not for someone just getting into excavation work. You should be able to do everything needed on smaller earthwork projects via some simple conventional staking and layout work. About all you will need is a conventional tripod mounted laser and a wheel tape.
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Old 10-24-2017, 11:39 PM   #5
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Re: Cutting Teeth On Site Work


I can't imagine buying or selling land in bedrock country with out KNOWing the depth of rock......

How did you price it???? Wild as# Guess?

The up side of a shallow rock bed is the trees will knock over easier...

Next will be learning how to blast in basements and septic tanks....
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Old 10-25-2017, 09:19 AM   #6
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Re: Cutting Teeth On Site Work


We actually had test pits dug on the approximate location of the house prior to purchasing to confirm depth to ledge. We are doing driveway/rough grading (in theory) this fall, but, because proposed house location ended up getting shifted some on advice from an LA, we will prob. dig new test pits in new location to confirm depth to rock while we are out there. Worse case it can be shifted back to where the original pits were dug.

Estimated sale price is based on other comparable houses in the general area... But, yeah, to some extent it is "educated guessing" on what it will sell for. Who knows what the market will be like when the house is finished. This is our first spec house, so, we don't expect to make a killing on it. Idea is to learn from our mistakes so the second one (if there is a second one) will be a decent margin.

Except for the stuff we sub out, a lot of the work we do in-house will end up being done during our slow times most likely anyway. Doesn't hurt that we got the land relatively inexpensively as well.
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Old 10-25-2017, 09:33 AM   #7
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Re: Cutting Teeth On Site Work


I think I will do the layout myself with a builder level and wheel tape as it was mentioned, working with a local site guy for consulting and to "check my work". Topcon offered to have someone demo a laser and receiver unit for me, so, if it seems pretty straight forward to use then I will probably try that route in addition to a traditional layout as it seems it could be a real time saver once I'm comfortable with it.

The way I view it is, I'd rather run into slowdowns, etc on this project, then any future projects that aren't our own... So might as well get the initial pain of learning new stuff that can (once I'm comfortable with them) make things go faster, out of the way now vs. later.

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