Unleveled yards can cause damage to your house. If you are experiencing this, you may need to get your yard regraded. But you first need to find out whether or not you need a permit to regrade your yard.
A grading permit is required if you want to regrade your yard. Anytime you are changing the contour or topography of your yard, you will need this permit. For example, if you plan to regrade your whole yard, you will definitely need a grading permit, even if you have had one in the past.
Obtaining permits can be a complicated and lengthy process. So, to make your life easier, we have answered all the possible questions that you might have. Let’s dig into it!
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Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!
While most larger regrading projects require a permit, smaller projects, thankfully, do not! You can even level the land yourself with a few helpful tools.
Here are our must-have tools for leveling your yard:
1. Leveling Lawn Rake – An excellent, heavy-duty, rolling rake for optimal levelness
2. Aluminum Shovel – Perfect for scooping and placing soil
3. Heavy-Duty Wheelbarrow – Great for carrying your soil and tools around
Permits Needed for Regrading Your Yard
If you are thinking of regrading your yard, you will need to determine whether or not you need a permit to do so. Ensuring that you do the project legally will ensure that you will not face any unwanted fines or setbacks.
Do I Need a Permit to Regrade My Yard?
A grading permit is needed anytime you want to change the contour or topography of your yard- even if you have already obtained one in the past.
Anytime you need to change the contour or typography of your land or fill depressions, you must obtain a new grading permit.
This is because even though you have obtained a grading permit in the past, your new grading plans will be different from the original plan. Therefore, new expertise inspections are needed.
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What Is a Grading Permit?
A grading permit is a certificate that ensures proper grading plans have been made and gives the go-ahead to start the grading process. A grading plan refers to the landscaping of a yard.
A civil engineer typically prepares the grading plan. The plan’s primary purpose is to ensure that all water will move down your property into a drainage system, away from the house’s foundation.
Without this, water from storms and irrigation can pile up in undesired areas. This attracts unwanted bugs and can cause damage to the foundation of your home from moisture issues.
What Is a Lot Grading Certification?
A lot grading certification, also known as a grading permit, is the final certificate given to a homeowner and the planning and development team who is doing the grading to allow them to begin the grading process.
Grading is needed to provide good drainage away from your house, so your house doesn’t experience any unwanted water damage.
When there is a poor grading plan, water from storms can drain to the side of your house, destroying the foundation of your house.
When Is a Grading Permit Required?
A grading permit is needed before a house is built and anytime you want to change the contour or topography of your yard after the house is already constructed. It ensures proper drainage of water away from your house.
So, when you are building your house, you will need this permit for the construction process. A lot goes into building a house, and there are many pieces that all have to fit together to allow for proper construction.
If you ever wish to change the contour of your landscape or feel that you have to, you will need a grading permit again. Unfortunately, you can’t use the same permit you did during your construction phase.
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How Do I Apply for a Grading Permit?
Your city will have a grading permit application on its website that will outline everything required. You can fill out the application by printing it from the website and submitting it in person.
Here is the grading permit application for Mesquite, Nevada, to give you an example. Once you have the application completed, it states to submit it in person at the local building department.
A fee of $75.00 is required to process the application.
How Much Does a Grading Permit Cost?
The cost of a grading permit will depend on where you live. The fee for the application process alone will cost you at least $75, plus you need to consider the cost of everything that is needed to complete the application.
Along with the permit fees, you need to consider the cost of the grading plan. This can cost you anywhere from $1000 – $2000 depending on how large your lot is that you are regrading and the professional fees.
You also need to consider the costs of any other permits you might need, such as building permits, site plans, and surveying.
What Is a Grading Violation?
A grading violation occurs when you go ahead with a grading project without the necessary permits. You can face a no-work order and possible fines for every day you don’t have the permit.
All contractors require a permit to begin any grading projects, so you are likely doing the grading yourself if you don’t have a grading permit.
DIY grading is not the best idea since the skills you need to grade a property properly are unique.
And, keep in mind, you can’t necessarily take on a grading project discreetly. If the police come by to check if you have a permit and find out that you don’t, you could face serious consequences.
What Is the Punishment for Not Having a Grading Permit?
The punishment for not having a grading permit will depend on where you live, but the city will likely halt your project until you get the permit. You will also be charged a fine for every day that you don’t have the permit.
Unfortunately, applying for a grading permit can sometimes take months, so that daily fine will add up.
For example, the county of Santa Cruz states that a fine of $2,500 will be issued every day until you receive the permit.
The Requirements Needed for a Grading Permit Application
After determining that you need a grading permit, we must prepare all the documents and procedures needed to apply. This process can be lengthy, so starting it as soon as possible is suggested.
Residential Grading Permit Application Requirements
To obtain a residential grading permit, you need to have plenty of requirements during your application process. These specific requirements will differ between municipalities, so check with your local bylaws before applying.
To give you an idea of what will be expected for your grading permit application, here are the requirements for a grading permit in Huntington, New York.
Keep in mind that you have to have a grading plan completed by a civil engineer before you can apply for the application.
This is likely to take you the longest time than the other requirements, so getting a civil engineer scheduled as early as possible is a good idea.
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What Do I Need to Submit for a Grading Permit?
All homeowners need to submit a grading permit before getting the approval to move along with their landscaping or construction plans. A grading plan is included in the requirements and a building permit application.
The following, but not limited to, is needed to submit a grading permit:
- Building permit application
- A grading questionnaire
- A complete survey by a licensed surveyor
- Site plan
- Amount of fill to be added, moved, replaced, or excavated
- Work schedule
- Full names and addresses of all property owners
Please keep in mind this is not an extensive list of all the requirements, and requirements will change depending on where you live. Consult with your local bylaws to determine exactly what you need.
Do I Need a Building Permit for a Grading Permit?
A building permit is needed to receive a grading permit. Therefore, you will be required to submit your building permits with your final grading permit application.
A building permit consists of important information relevant to what is needed for proper grading. It ensures that the construction complies with local land use, zoning, and construction standards.
Additionally, the landscaper will know where utility lines are, which will affect the grading process.
Who Can Do a Grading Plan?
A civil engineer or surveyor completes a grading plan, but the best practice is to use a civil engineer. For example, a civil engineer will determine ways to direct water away from your house.
You should contact a local civil engineer as soon as you think of regrading your yard, as the process can take some time, and civil engineers are typically in high demand.
You can either contact a freelance engineer or one who works with an architecture firm.
All About Yard Grading
Now that we have determined when you need a grading permit, let’s reinforce why grading your yard is important and how you can do it yourself if it is a small area.
What Is Grading a Yard?
Land grading is the process of leveling the surface of your yard to ensure that water flows smoothly to a water drainage system instead of piling up in your yard or against your house.
Land grading occurs during the construction of a house. If the house is on flat land, the land grading will ensure there aren’t any slopes or holes for water to pile up in.
If the house is on top of a hill, the grading process will ensure the land slopes down correctly to avoid water build-up.
You may need to regrade your land if there has been damage to your property or after you have added an addition to your house that may have altered the land level.
Why Would You Need to Grade Your Yard?
All yards need to be graded to ensure proper drainage of water. If a yard is not graded, water may build up beside your house, destroying the foundation of your house.
Water damage can destroy houses’ foundations, resulting in lengthy and expensive renovation projects. Therefore, it is best to get your land properly graded to avoid any catastrophes in the future.
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How Do You Level Uneven Ground?
If you are leveling a small piece of uneven ground, you can do it yourself by a method called ‘sweeping under the carpet’. But, if your whole property is uneven, you may need to regrade it by a professional.
To level a small piece of uneven ground, you can follow the sweeping under the carpet method:
- Cut out the patch of grass that is unlevel
- Add a soil mix (soil, compost, and sand) to the depression evenly
- Rake the soil using a leveling lawn rake
- Place the patch back down and ensure the land is now level
Can You Grade Your Own Yard?
You can typically grade your yard if the amount you are grading falls below a certain amount of square feet or change the grade more than a certain amount. This amount will vary depending on where you live.
But, generally speaking, if you grade more than 2500 square feet of soil or change the grade more than 24 inches, whether you are taking away or adding, you must apply for a permit that will involve professionals.
How Do I Level My Backyard by Hand?
To level your backyard by hand, you will have to first remove the grass in the area you want to relevel. Then, rake the soil back and forth and add extra soil mix as needed. Finally, rake the soil until it is flat.
An ideal soil mix is two parts sand, two parts topsoil, and one part compost. The sand is necessary to maintain a level yard since it does not compact easily.
The topsoil and compost provide the nutrients to help your grass thrive.
Using a lawn leveling rake is an excellent way to ensure your yard is level. It is heavy enough to compact the soil and rolls to ensure easy raking.
Once you think your lawn is level again, place the grass back on top of the soil. You can rake the grass gently one last time to ensure it is tightly on the soil.
Ensure to water the area to give the deprived grass some extra hydration.
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How Do I Get My Yard Graded?
To get your yard graded, you can contact a local landscaping company. They will help you with the process of grading your yard, including how to obtain all the necessary permits.
Upon contact, the landscaping company will visit your home to estimate how much the grading will cost. If you are not happy with this estimate, feel free to reach out to another company to compare costs.
What Equipment Is Needed to Level a Yard?
To level your lawn efficiently and successfully, the right tools are needed. Conversely, using the wrong tools for the job can make the project more complex and less effective.
The following equipment is needed to level a yard:
How Much Does It Cost to Grade a Yard?
Grading a yard can cost you anywhere between $0.40 – $2.00. The cost will vary depending on where you live and which professionals you hire.
Considering these rates, to grade a small yard, patio, or pool area, you can pay between $500 and $1000. For the average backyard or home lot, you can expect to pay between $1000 – $5,000.
What Is the Best Time to Regrade a Yard?
The best time to regrade your yard is during the middle of Spring. However, this all depends on where you live. If you experience random frost during the Spring in your area, try to regrade your yard once you think the temperature will remain over freezing.
Frost and snow can cause your soil to move and dehydrate your already suffering grass (from the regrade). This is why it is best to wait until the time when you believe there won’t be any colder weather.
Do I Need a Permit to Replace My Front Steps?
You do not need a permit to replace your front steps. Permits are only needed for larger renovations and demolition jobs that involve knocking down walls.
So, you are free to remove and replace your steps without any permits. However, it is best to contact a professional if you believe you will be working on top of utility lines and think the replacement might affect these lines.
Do You Need a Permit to Pour Concrete in Your Yard?
If you plan to put in a patio or lay some foundation for a shed with cement, you may not need a permit if the total amount of concrete is less than 30 inches above grade.
However, local bylaws will differ, so it is best to check with your city before beginning your project. You also may need a permit to do any excavation before pouring the concrete.
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If you are planning just a small regrading project, likely, you won’t need to go through the process of obtaining a permit.
But, if your yard is in serious need of an entire regrading, then you will need a grading permit.
This is in your best interest since professionals will get the project done the best way possible, saving you time and effort in the future.