I am trying to decide on a garage/pole barn for my house that is 24 x
30. My lot has a slope to it. Are there any good and cheap ways to
level this? I have available to be a small tractor that has a front
bucket. If I were to rent a grader blade would this work to cut out
the high side? My guess is there is about 2 feet difference between
the high and low side.
Define 'small tractor', please. Sounds like a lot of dirt to move. Don't
forget you also need to dig out for the slab/footers and such, not to
mention any grading for the driveway and apron to make them driveable and
self-draining. Rather than risk killing a borrowed tractor, I'd either hire
the dirt work done, or at least rent the proper equipment. Lotsa freelance
backhoe guys out there- it may be cheaper than you think, especially if you
can be flexible about when the work gets done. And if you have never done
dirt work, it ain't as easy at it looks. Along with getting all the grades
right, you have to be able to 'read' the dirt as you go, to make sure it is
all tamped down so you don't get sinkholes after the first rain. I'm no
expert, but I know enough about it to know having experience makes a
difference. (I grew up in residential construction, so watching Big Yellow
Iron was a favorite pastime of my misspent youth.)
Last January I needed to level a 40'x40' area so we could build our new
house. Like you, our building site was about 1-2 feet higher on the top end
of the slope. I called every excavator in the phone book. Half never
answered my call, others never returned my messages, some said the job was
"too small", and the remainders who did say they were interested never
bothered to show up. With little time to waste I decided to rent a Bobcat
(skid steer loader) and try leveling it myself.
The time of year meant the conditions were wet and muddy, and I had never
used a Bobcat before. I'm sure a professional with a small cat could have
leveled the site in a few hours or less. It took me a day and a half, but
even with the delivery and pickup charges it cost me less than the lowest
bid I had received. I was surprised by how much the loaders big tires just
spun in the wet mud. Made it much harder to level. And, I got the loader
stuck at least twice when I got off into some deeper mud. Had to use the
bucket to kind of "pull" myself out. But, in the end I got the site
leveled, I learned something new, and I had a blast driving that machine
around all day.
We poured the footings and foundation walls on top of the leveled ground,
so I did not need to dig out trenches for footings or anything.
About 6 months later, when it was time to backfill, I didn't even bother
calling an excavator. I rented the bobcat and backfilled myself. It turned
out rather nice, and again, I had a blast. The ground was a lot drier this
time around, and I had a little experience under my belt, so the
backfilling went much smoother.
Next summer I'll need to have some more dirt brought in to fill in spots
that have settled since backfilling. Not sure if I'll rent the bobcat
again, or whether I'll rent something with a rototiller. We'll see...
When you get ready to top dress, see if you can find someone who
rents a Harley power rake with a skid steer or tractor.
Keep the whole world singing. . . .
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