Grading

Introduction to Grading

Grading is regulated because it can cause serious problems when not done properly and can result in damage to your property or other property or result in the deposition of sediment or debris on public right of way, private property, streams or natural water courses, or otherwise cause a nuisance. Newly exposed soil subjected to the elements of the weather can erode easily, moving from areas where you want it (e.g., on the hill behind your house) to areas where you don't want it (e.g., up against your house, in a street or natural water course, or on a neighbor's property).

If native soil underlying a new building pad is not adequately compacted or if the soil density varies too much, the building may settle and suffer structural damage. Excessive grading may cause loss of natural vegetation, accelerated erosion potential, habitat intrusion, soil instability, and visual scarring and may also damage other natural resources for years to come. Even minor grading can change the way water drains across a property, which can cause erosion problems that may affect existing drainage patterns, road access to a home or even an entire community.

A grading permit is required for all but a limited scope of earth-moving operations so that these problems can be prevented. Even when a permit is not required, you should still use great care in grading construction to preserve your own property and to protect adjoining properties and public roads.

Grading Permits

A grading permit is required for the following:

  • Clearing and grubbing

  • Grading

  • Excavation

  • Stockpiling

  • Earthwork construction including fills and embankments

  • Widening or construction of private roads

  • Paving, re-paving of private roads and parking lots

  • Exploratory excavations

  • Rough grading

  • Precise Grading

Additionally, the Building Official may require a Best Management Practices (BMP) permit to conduct certain types of inspections; including but not limited to the following types of inspections: Pre-Construction Inspection, NPDES Construction inspections, Water Quality Management Plan (WQMP) BMP inspections, Annual Water Quality Management Plan (WQMP) inspections, Bond Release inspections and Air Quality inspections.

Grading Permit Application

In order to obtain a grading permit; the grading permit Application Form must be completed.  The applicant will be asked to complete the appropriate applications, submit all required plans, documents and pay applicable fees and post a security.

In most cases, a grading permit application requires three (3) sets of grading and drainage plans which include a site plan in each set. Supplemental information may include two (2) site specific soils report for habitable structures. Additional documents may include geological reports, compaction reports, surveys to establish grades, property lines and location of structure, erosion control plans, Notice of Intent (NOI), Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) to help prevent any delays in processing your grading permit application.

Preparation of Grading Plans

  • Grading plans shall be prepared by a licensed professional. Licensed professional are required to wet stamp and sign the grading plans and provide supporting calculations for their design work. In some cases (when grading less than 200 cubic yards), designers (no requirement for state licensing) can prepare regular grading plans, however, it is recommended that a licensed professional prepare the grading plan to meet the plan requirements.

  • All grading plans and specifications shall be prepared and signed by a professional licensed engineer when the grading is over 5,000 cubic yards and shall be designated as "engineered grading."

Grading Permit Conditions of Approval

  • As a grading permit application is processed, we often identify items and/or conditions of approval that must be completed prior to issuance of a grading permit (e.g., Department clearances, Notice of Intent, Fees, etc.).

Grading Permit Issuance

  • When, your grading plans have been approved, you have cleared required conditions for issuance, and paid your Fees your permit is issued and you are ready to start grading construction.

  • You will receive one set of approved drawings, stamped and dated along with an inspection card. The plans and inspection card should be kept at the job site at all times.

Before You Start Grading

In most cases, grading construction projects require professional inspections, soil compaction (fill placement), testing, and a final grading report from a professional licensed engineer verifying that the grading construction was done correctly. To do this, the engineer must visit the site and inspect certain grading operations and perform soils tests. Therefore, you need to engage a consultant engineer before you start grading. Be sure the engineer knows that the final grading report for the grading must verify all of the following:

  • That the grading construction was done according to the approved plans, including the location and extent of grading, and the finish slopes of cuts and fills.

  • That area where fill is placed has been properly prepared (vegetation removed, keying and benching where required).

  • The fill has achieved at least 90% relative compaction throughout its depth.

  • Where a building pad is created, the pad is "suitable for its intended use" (i.e., to support a residential structure). This is particularly important when the building is partly on cut and partly on fill.

  • The owner or contractor will need to submit a compaction report and rough grade certification letter to the Grading Division before requesting a rough grade inspection.

  • For additional information please review the County of Riverside Technical Guidelines

Riverside County grading inspectors will inspect the grading on requested inspections and they will insure the work follows the approved grading plans, the Water Quality Management Plan, building codes and local ordinances, and assure a safe site development for public safety welfare.

Rough Grade Approval

The Building and Safety Department must approve the completed grading of your project before a building permit can be issued. Rough Grade approval can be accomplished by complying with the following:

  • Submitting a “Wet Signed” copy of the Soils Compaction Report containing substantiating data from the Soils Engineer (registered geologist or certified geologist, civil engineer or geotechnical engineer as appropriate) for his/her certification of the project.

  • Submitting a “Wet Signed” copy of the Rough Grade certification from a Registered Civil Engineer certifying that the grading was completed in conformance with the approved grading plan.

  • Requesting a Rough Grade Inspection and obtaining rough grade approval from a Riverside County inspector.

Precise Grade Approval

The Building and Safety Department must approve the precise grading of your project before a building final can be obtained. The following maybe required to obtain a precise grade approval.

  • Requesting and obtaining approval of all required grading inspections.
  • Submitting a “Wet Signed” copy of the Soils Compaction Report from the Soils Engineer (registered geologist or certified geologist, civil engineer or geotechnical engineer as appropriate) for the sub-grade and base of all paved areas.
  • Submitting a “Wet Signed” copy of the Sub-grade (rough) Certification  from a Registered Civil Engineer certifying that the sub-grade was completed in conformance with the approved grading plan.
  • Submitting a “Wet Signed” copy of the Precise (Final) Grade Certification for the entire site from a Registered Civil Engineer certifying that the precise grading was completed in conformance with the approved grading plan.
  • Submitting a “Wet Signed” copy of the Water Quality Management Plan (WQMP) Certification from a Registered Civil Engineer certifying that the Water Quality Management Plan treatment control BMPs have been installed in accordance with the approved WQMP.

Prior to release for building final, the applicant shall have met all precise grade requirements to obtain Building and Safety Department clearance.

Grading Inspections

Grading inspections is a process of checks in which approvals are granted in stages for grading construction. The process ensures quality assurance inspections of your grading project during construction and to make sure your project follows the approved plans, building codes and county ordinances and is also intended to assure the site development is safe for public safety and welfare.

No Grade Verification Inspection

  • A “No Grade Verification” inspection may be required from the Building & Safety Department prior to issuance of a building permit. The grading inspector reviews the site and determines if a grading permit is required. For additional information regarding the “No Grade Verification”, Click Here

Required Grading Inspections

The permittee shall schedule an inspection at the following various stages of work and shall obtain approval from the inspector prior to proceeding to the next stage of work.

Pre-Construction

  • Prior to the start of any clearing, brushing or grading work the permittee shall schedule a pre-construction inspection.

  • The permittee shall ensure that all project consultants are present at the pre-construction inspection.

  • The purpose of this inspection is for everyone involved to familiarize themselves with the proposed development, discuss permit requirements and any site specific concerns in order to avoid future problems during construction.

Rough Grade Inspection

  • When approximate final grade elevations have been established; drainage terraces, swales, berms at the top of slopes and other devices necessary for the protection of the building site and adjacent properties from flooding are installed; temporary and/or permanent erosion protection are in place, the applicant/owner is required to schedule a rough grade inspection by the Building Official.

Intermittent Rough Grade Inspection

  • In addition to the called in inspections, the Building Official may make other inspections as may be deemed necessary to determine that the work is being performed in conformance with this ordinance.

Rough Grade Final Inspection

  • In addition to obtaining all required inspections and approval of all final reports, all sites permitted for rough grade only shall provide 100 percent permanent stabilization of the site prior to receiving a rough grade permit final.

NPDES Inspection

  • Construction activities including clearing, stockpiling, grading or excavation of land which disturbs less than 1 acre and requires a Grading or Construction Building permit shall provide for effective control of erosion, sediment and all other pollutants year-round.

  • Construction activities including but not limited to clearing, stockpiling, grading or excavation of land, which disturbs 1 acre or more or on-sites which are part of a larger common plan of development which disturbs less than 1 acre are required to provide proof of WDID# and keep a current copy of the storm water pollution prevention plan (SWPPP) on the construction site and shall be made available to the Department of Building and Safety upon request.

  • Year-round, Best Management Practices (BMP’s) shall be maintained and be in place for all areas that have been graded or disturbed and for all material, equipment and/or operations that need protection. Stabilized Construction Entrances and project perimeter linear barriers are required year round.

  • The Department of Building and Safety will conduct periodic NPDES inspections of the site throughout the recognized storm season to verify compliance with the Construction General Permit and Stormwater ordinances and regulations.

Precise Grade Inspection

  • When precise grading has been completed; all drainage devices required to be constructed to drain the building pad(s) are installed; slope planting is established, irrigation systems installed; and final reports and certifications have been submitted and approved, the applicant/owner is required to schedule a precise grade inspection by the Building Official.

 Sub-Grade Inspection

  • When asphaltic concrete pavement or Portland cement is required for parking areas; the applicant/owner is required to schedule a sub-grade inspection by the Building Official prior to base placement.

Base Inspection

  • Prior to paving the applicant/owner is required to schedule a base inspection by a Riverside County Inspector and obtain approval of base placement of all proposed paved areas prior to paving.

Paving Inspection

  • Prior to release for building final the applicant/owner is required to schedule a final paving inspection by a Riverside County Inspector and approval of final paving of all paved areas. Final paving inspection may be scheduled along with the precise grade inspection.

WQMP / LID Inspections

  • Prior to release for building final; all structural BMPs or LID BMPs described in the project – specific WQMP and indicated on the approved grading plan shall be constructed and installed in conformance with the approved WQMP and grading plan and shall be inspected and approved by a grading inspector.

Additional Inspections

  • When determined by the Building and Safety Department additional inspections may be required.

Security Improvement Release Inspections

  • Prior to release of a Grading or Erosion Control Security, the Building and Safety Department may require an inspection of the site to determine whether the securities may be released. This inspection will be completed upon submittal of a Bond Release permit application and payment of fees.