Breaking Ground

By: Vicki Connell


Who knew there would be so much involved in breaking ground? Once plans are complete and you’ve received your permit, Maricopa County requires you to have a dust permit (sometimes prior to receiving your building permit). You must submit a dust control plan on how you intend to keep the dust down during construction, as well as a log of each time you wet down the lot.


Oh, the joys of living in a desert.


So, what are some other things you’ll need to know about the dirt process?


A Pad

A pad must be built to make the ground suitable for a foundation. I was amazed at the amount of dirt that was dug up. In some cases, additional dirt will be brought in and there is a ratio of native dirt to fill dirt that is mixed and packed into the pad.


Compaction Test

It is also important to receive a compaction test, especially if you have a lot of fill dirt brought in, to level your lot. This test ensures the right amount of moisture was used when compacting the soil making it secure and solid. You don’t want the ground shifting under you, once your foundation and walls go in.


Pad Certification

You will also need a pad certification to ensure the pad is built up to the right height according to the grading and drainage plan. Keep these certifications on file as your inspector will need to see them when you call for a finished floor inspection.



Now the dirt is all level and nice, and you are going to do what?

Once the pad is all nice and neat, they dig it all up to create footers for the foundation. These are inspected and poured. Then your stem walls are formed and poured. This is when most city and counties require a Finished Floor Inspection. The inspector will verify the finished floor elevation and likely want to see the pad certification performed by a third party.



Next comes more digging – underground plumbing. In the case of rocky soil, it is important to shade your pipes with sand to ensure they are protected from breaking. Once plumbing is in, you can back fill the dirt. Then AB (small sized pebbles) is added and packed in.

Whew, now we are ready for foundation. This is a fun process to watch. You’ll see what an art concrete finishing is. You’ll know how skilled the trade was when you go to install your flooring.


As you walk around on your slab you may start second guessing the size. It can be very deceiving, don’t worry, trust the process. It will look too small, then too big, then too small, then just right.

If you are considering building a custom home, give our office call

Castle Rock Homes (623) 935-5004 See more videos from our "New Build in the Desert" series Click Here

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