The 'How to' of Siteworks
Before construction can begin, you need to make decisions about the siteworks.
Siteworks is the process of preparing the land for the construction phase. It can include clearing, excavating and levelling of the block.
Siteworks must be completed before any construction of the house can begin. In some cases, siteworks can lead to budget blow outs, so it is important to research this area thoroughly before purchasing land.
Buying land in housing estates generally has the advantage of lower siteworks expenses, because the land is prepared thoroughly by the land developer before lots are listed for sale.
Siteworks encompass all the costs associated with marrying your house with your block of land, including: earthworks, footing detail, hard digging, services, crossovers, concrete pumps, fencing, scaffolding and more.
Variations in siteworks can be found in two blocks that are in the same area. For example, one block may have a one storey house and the other a two storey house. Also, one may have a different slope gradient than the other. If you build on an infill block it's possible your siteworks cost can be over $100,000, especially in a place such as the Perth hills which may have complex requirements.
Going to an estate with pre-manufactured blocks provides buyers with reliability and predictability. This will generally lead to lower siteworks costs.
Some land can have soil with high clay content. This will impact on the ability of the soil to drain. If you notice that water is pooling on the surface after watering, then you may need to have some of the clay removed from the site.
After new sand has been added, there may also need to be additional work done to the concrete slab and footings. This can be an expensive process.
Limestone Soil Type
In the case of limestone on the surface, a sand pad may need to be added which can be an expensive engineering requirement. This situation is particularly common on coastal areas.
Make sure you ask the developer if a soil test for limestone has already been completed and that the block is A Class and ready for construction.
If you are concerned about the soil quality, you may need to get a geotechnical report completed on the land you intend to purchase.
In most estates, the land developer will have the information, so be sure to ask the question and see the report if possible before you purchase the land.
Retaining walls are very important as they can delineate your boundary, hold the soil in place, prevent erosion and provide the block with stability.
Retaining walls are expensive to build and are typically required in blocks where the land slopes.
In some estates, retaining walls are included in the block price. However, in other new estates, the retaining wall planning and expense will be up to the buyer.
Keep in mind retaining walls are like icebergs, as much of the wall is underground and not visible.
Site services refer to the work done on vacant lots so that essential services can be connected in the future.
These include gas, water, sewerage and Internet services.
Choosing a Predictable Site
Building on a predictable site in a housing estate can answer many of your siteworks' questions quickly and set your mind at ease. Having an experienced land sales agent will give you the benefit of optimising your land by working out the zoning, that determines set backs, as well as knowing whether or not soakwells and other siteworks factors are involved.
You want to hear something like the following: "These are your set backs, then on top of that you are getting boundary fencing, front landscaping, nbn fibre to the premises and the usual utilities including power, water, sewerage and gas".