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What to Know About Staking a Lot

Other than conducting some preliminary site work like soil testing, staking the lot is the first step towards taking your home’s design from paper, and building it in real life. Staking the lot accomplishes two things. First, the boundaries of the lot are clearly established (often marked, as you might expect, with wooden stakes). Second, the footprint (or outline) of your planned home is also marked in the same manner. All surveying should be completed by a trusted and competent land surveyor who is registered and licensed. Mistakes can be costly and time consuming.

Rough Grade Staking

If your lot is relatively flat, rough grade staking is less applicable in your situation, due to the site already being close to finish grade. Rough grade staking is generally conducted when more significant earth movement is required to contour the lot for water drainage considerations or retention considerations. Typically this is done to make the lot buildable given the topography of the site. Otherwise, necessary grading is performed when the foundation is complete and the excavated site is backfilled.

Utility Staking

Prior to excavation, staking helps provide visibility to where the underground utilities will be tapped. Source lines for water, electricity, and gas as well as connection lines for storm drains and sewers should all be marked.

Footprint Staking

Once a lot is staked, the homes orientation within the lot can be double checked to make sure it is in compliance with any required setbacks, easements, or other restrictions which may influence the way your home sits on the property. As excavation commences, the placement of the stakes may become disrupted. Prior to installing forms for the concrete work, it is a good idea to double check the home’s footprint, and maybe even have the lot staked again—especially if you believe any offset markers have been inadvertently moved.

An offset marker is used to help the contractors relocate the corners of the house after excavation. This is necessary because the process of excavating removes the dirt, stakes and all, from the building site. Typically two offset stakes are used to reestablish a corner by measuring a set distance (like ten feet) from each offset stake to find the corner point.

Tips When Staking a Lot

  • Well-placed offset markers can help save the cost of calling back the surveyors to re-stake the home’s footprint.
  • Be sure to have the surveyors mark every corner or jog in the home’s footprint. Once the stakes are in, it is easy to connect the dots with spray paint to better visualize the footprint and minimize and mistakes.
  • Once the footprint is staked, revisit your site plan to make sure you like the layout on the lot—particularly if you see favorite trees you would like to keep on your site.
  • To keep good relations with your future neighbors, know where your property boundaries are, and don’t accidentally dig, cross, or store equipment beyond those boundaries.
  • Find a fixed point around the property (like a curb) where the surveyor can mark. This gives the contractor the ability to conduct depth checks from a fixed reference point during the construction process.
  • Keep a proper perspective. The outdoor world is immense, so when staking the footprint of your home, don’t be alarmed if it feels small in comparison. Once the walls start going up, you will be able to recalibrate your senses to indoor proportions and the building will feel the right size.