Determining Pad Height with Stem Wall Construction

You should always verify the allowances in your lot contract for fill, clearing, permits, impact fees and site prep.  A good builder will make sure to inspect your lot PRIOR to the execution of your contract to ensure that the allowances for your site specific prep costs are aligned with what is needed.  It is still possible to have overages above the adjusted allowances if there are unforeseen circumstances like rock or additional fill, but for the most part doing an inspection in the beginning will eliminate any surprises in the end.

The existing elevation of the lot will determine how much fill dirt is needed.  Most all lots will need fill dirt in order to bring the new construction home’s finished floor up to the required height per code. The amount of fill required can vary considerably depending on the lot location and its existing elevation. The existing elevation is determined when a survey is ordered with an “elevation certificate”. The elevation certificate will tell the builder the current elevation and guide them as to how much the lot will need to be elevated. Lot elevations are raised by bringing in fill dirt.  It is important to understand that the amount of fill required can increase the overall cost of the project depending on the elevation requirements and the overall house pad area.

Lot inspection adjustments to contract allowances are ESTIMATIONS based on surrounding homes and the finish floor requirements of prior builds we have completed in the area.  We will not be able to know a better estimation of costs for fill until we get the elevation certificate to figure out the rise necessary for your particular lot.  Still then it is hard to predict the final load count needed to create the pad height, backfill the stemwall and complete the final grade.  This will not truly be known until completion of the home.

The Virgin ground is the starting point.  The pad height is added to support the footer and the number of courses are determined by the engineer’s requirement of the finish floor height.  All of this will vary by location.  Finish floor heights are generally 8-12” above the floodplain to get the best price on flood insurance.