On average, Florida only rests six feet above sea level. Considering this, it’s important that contractors remain diligent of Appendix J of the Florida Building Code which discusses guidelines and rules for grading, excavation, and earthwork construction in the Sunshine State. Contractors who fail to submit an engineering analysis before engaging in any of these actions are violating Florida law. To increase your chances of avoiding a legal dispute, consult a Florida construction lawyer versed in contract review, site inspection, lien law, and more.
In this two-part series, the Florida construction lawyers at Cotney Construction Law will discuss grading, excavation, and earthwork in Florida.
Compliance starts with a clear understanding of any relevant terminology related to the topic in question. If you plan on engaging in some form of grading, excavation, or earthwork, it is imperative that you can comprehend the following terms:
- Bench: a level surface excavated into the earth upon which fill can be placed.
- Compaction: the process of densifying a fill through mechanical means.
- Cut: shorthand for “excavation.”
- Down Drain: a device that collects water from a swale or ditch positioned above a slope and safely delivers it to an authorized drainage facility.
- Erosion: the wearing away or breaking down of the earth due to the movement of wind, water, or ice.
- Excavation: the process of removing earth material through artificial methods.
- Fill: the deposition of earth materials through artificial processes.
- Grade: the vertical location of the surface of the earth.
- Grade, Existing: the grade antecedent to grading.
- Grade, Finished: the grade of the project site after all grading efforts have concluded.
- Grading: an excavation, a fill, or a combination of both.
- Key: a compacted fill that is placed inside an excavated trench beneath the toe of a slope.
- Slope: an inclined surface defined by the ratio of the horizontal distance in relation to the vertical distance.
- Terrace: a relatively level step protruding from the face of a graded slope for purposes of drainage and maintenance.
Flood Hazard Areas
Florida’s ongoing issues with flooding require developers to be cognizant of the delicate nature of the state’s fragile physical geography. Applicants who wish to excavate in a flood hazard area are required to submit an engineering analysis that meets the following requirements:
- Prepared in conjunction with standard engineering practice and verified by a registered design professional.
- Demonstrates that the work in question will not increase the level of the base flood.
Otherwise, any instance of grading, excavation, and earthwork construction, including fills and embankments, will be impermissible in floodways located in flood hazard areas. The same rule applies for flood hazard areas where floodways have yet to be appointed.
To learn more about grading, excavation, and earthwork in Florida, read part two.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.