In part one of this two-part series, the Florida construction attorneys at Cotney Construction Law discussed important considerations for Florida contractors who plan on engaging in grading, excavation, and earthwork including important definitions and information about performing these actions in flood hazard areas. Now, we will continue to explore Appendix J of the Florida Building Code to provide tips for contractors who want to avoid a legal dispute related to grading, excavation, and earthwork.
All contractors who plan to perform grading in the State of Florida must first obtain a permit from the building official. A grading permit only covers the act of grading, it does not permit the construction of retaining walls or other structures; however, there are an array of exemptions where a grading permit is not required including:
- Grading in isolated or uninhabited areas that pose no danger to the public.
- Grading in areas that will not have an adverse effect on properties in close proximity to the site.
In addition, performing an excavation for certain structures permitted under the Florida Building Code doesn’t require a grading permit if that structure is one of the following:
- Cemetery graves
- Refuse disposal sites governed by other regulations.
- Excavations for wells and utility trenches.
Lastly, instances of mining, excavating, processing, or stockpiling rock, sand, gravel, aggregate, or clay that is governed by other regulations do not require a grading permit as long as the operations do not have a negative effect on the lateral support soil on connected properties. Furthermore, contractors can perform excavations under the supervision of a registered design professional without a grading permit. Notwithstanding, these permit exemptions are predicated on the absence of legal overlapping from other laws or ordinances that hold jurisdiction over grading, excavation, and earthwork.
Site Plan Requirements
Once you have received any necessary permits prior to working, you will be responsible for submitting a grading plan that documents the existing grade and the finished grade in contour intervals that clearly illustrate the nature and extent of the work to be performed. In addition, this plan should explain how compliance with existing code requirements will be achieved, especially in instances where differing grades between adjoining properties can come into conflict with the established codes.
Lastly, you will be required to submit a geotechnical report drafted by a registered design professional that includes the nature and distribution of the soil, counsel for grading procedures, soil design criteria, and slope stability studies. On some sites, a liquefaction study will be required, too.
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.