Lot Clearing Goes Beyond Razing and Removal

Lot clearing is often perceived as the easy stage of construction. Many developers believe it’s as simple as removing trees and leveling out the ground. Lot clearing is more complicated than it sounds, and the process requires safety, efficiency, and tons of preparation to go about it correctly.

Below are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare to clear a plot of land.

Prepare the lot before you clear it

Lot clearing involves more than simply removing trees and obstructions from the land. In fact, much of the work begins prior to even touching the property. Before you start clearing the lot, you must acquire the necessary permits and approvals from your local government. Keep in mind that requirements are not universal across all municipalities. Check with government officials to make sure you’re fulfilling all the requirements needed to clear the plot of land.

Once you’ve gained permission to clear the land, you need to hire a subcontractor who can survey the land for you. Surveying detects complications that could delay the lot-clearing process. A surveying report can provide valuable information about the land’s condition and how to work around obstacles. This report also describes the soil and vegetation, which determines the types of equipment necessary to get the job done.

After surveying the land, create a plan that illustrates how you’re going to clear it. The plan should include details like which areas of the site will be cleared first. It should also contain a schedule of who will be on the lot and when. This will help the lot-clearing process run smoothly and minimize the chance of contractors getting in each other’s way.

Additional considerations prior to clearing include: 

  • Review your Phase 1 Environmental report for any potential Recognized Environmental Conditions (RECs) before you start clearing. If you have any RECs, additional mitigation could be warranted prior to clearing the lot. 
  • If you have existing structures on the lot, you should obtain an asbestos survey to determine whether the structure contains any Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) prior to demolition. Mitigation and disposal of ACMs can cost a developer time and money. 
  • Depending on jurisdiction, a native plant inventory plan may be required, and some species of plants may be required to remain in place or to be properly salvaged and replanted in the project. 
  • Any native open space areas, wetlands, hillside preservations, or 404 washes may have restrictions that limit or prohibit clearing activities.

Protect workers with safety measures

Lot clearing can be a very dangerous job. And for that, safety should be your number one priority. Protect workers by ensuring they wear adequate personal protective equipment (PPE). The PPE may include a hard hat, goggles, work boots or all of the above. The type of PPE workers need to wear depends on the task they’re completing.

Workers don’t just need to wear PPE. They have to make sure it’s in good condition, too. Before showing up to the site, each worker should inspect their safety gear for tears, punctures, dents or other forms of damage. The machinery they use needs to pass a safety inspection as well. Not only does broken machinery slow down the lot-clearing process, it can also pose a serious health risk to those operating it.

Even with all these safety measures in place, lot clearing will never be entirely risk-free. Implement safety protocols, so workers know exactly what to do during an emergency situation. Provide first-aid kits and phone numbers to the nearest urgent care centers. Workers should have access to clear, easy-to-follow instructions that explain how to handle certain situations.

One of the most effective ways to keep workers safe is by hiring people who are qualified for the job. Trained lot clearing professionals are familiar with best practices while working on the site. They know how to operate machinery safely and mitigate the risk of injury. Lot clearing experts also understand which types of equipment to use and when to use them. Never cut corners on safety—hiring professionals to clear the lot is a smart investment.

Make the process more efficient.

Lot clearing might sound pretty straightforward. But it’s more nuanced than chopping down a couple of trees. Every site comes with its own unique set of characteristics about the soil, vegetation, and topography. Different site conditions call for different types of equipment. Workers will need to determine whether they should clear the land using a backhoe, chainsaw, stump grinder or another piece of equipment.

Workers should also consider the most effective methods for clearing the lot. For example, they’ll have to decide whether it’s better to grind down a tree stump or completely pull it out of the ground. They might choose to run branches through a wood chipper or burn them with a controlled fire. Assessing site conditions can help workers create a plan and clear the lot as efficiently as possible.

You’ll have to consider the neighboring properties as well. Workers can’t use lot clearing methods that would likely damage existing structures next to the site. There might also be underground utility lines that could break during the lot clearing process. Workers must be cognizant of these external factors to avoid damaging them—not to mention the delays, lawsuits, and injuries that may come as a result.

Much like any other phase of construction, developers must always approach lot clearing with a comprehensive plan. It’s not a task that’s safe (or efficient) to complete on the fly. You need to make sure everything is in place before workers can break ground. Efficiency, safety measures, and lot preparation are the components that make lot clearing as easy as it sounds.To learn more about the right way to approach site preparation, contact Sandbox Development Consultants.