Building steps to a ‘home sweet home’

By JULIE BERBARI

Building a new home is an exciting yet stressful time in anyone’s life. However, with just a little investigating and some simple questions, the process can run smoothly. Follow some simple steps to ensure a good building experience.

Be thorough

Make sure you see the grading plan for your lot. Ask your builder how he will grade the lot to ensure water flows away from your home while not impacting your new neighbors. With proper planning, a potential drainage problem can be avoided.

Evaluate your lot’s natural features with the builder. Clearly mark any trees that will stay and those that will be removed. Make sure you understand the topography and use it to your advantage. If your heart is set on a walk out basement, a flat lot may not be for you.

Try to visit the lot after a hard rain or in the spring or winter. Know your soils. Low wet marshy areas probably depict a wetland and that can restrict how the lot will be built on.

Check for any easements on the property. Review any lot restrictions from local zoning or your subdivision’s home owners association (HOA). If there is a pond on the lot, ask who is responsible for the long term maintenance – you, the lot owner, or the HOA? Is there a stream in the area? Note that streams are dynamic and will constantly change over time.

If your lot is in a flood plain, it probably will flood. If you decide to build in a flood plain, it will again restrict how you build on the lot and will add additional cost for permits or insurance — not to mention the emotional stress.

Be responsible

During the grading of the lot, until a yard is established, erosion problems are inevitable. A lot with bare soils has the potential of contributing significant quantities of sediment-laden runoff into local streams, ponds and potentially your new neighbor’s property.

Soil erosion and the resulting sedimentation are the leading cause of water quality problems in Ohio. Discuss what practices will be installed by the builder during construction. Make sure your builder maintains all practices.

Try to keep as much of the existing vegetation on the lot as long as possible. This will reduce erosion on the site. Practices such as silt fence, gravel construction entrances, inlet protection and concrete clean-out areas are some of the most common building maintenance plans (BMPs) used for a building lot.

Note that in Stark County, if your lot will disturb more than one acre of soil, an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency “notice of intent” (NOI) is required as well as a “storm water pollution prevention plan” (SWPPP). This is an added cost to the homeowner.

Be Confident

It is the responsibility of every builder and homeowner to comply with all regulations regarding erosion and sediment control. Even with the best thought out plans, no BMP is infallible. Sound planning, good communication with your builder, and diligent installation and maintenance of BMPs will reduce erosion and protect water quality for the entire community.

If you have any questions call Stark Soil & Water Conservation District at 330-830-7700, ext 127.

(Julie Berbari is the Urban Resource Coordinator for the Stark Soil & Water Conservation District. She is a graduate of The University Akron with a degree in engineering.)

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