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Grading Inspections

After issuance of a grading permit, several inspections are conducted by Environmental Planning staff to ensure that improvements are constructed as shown on the plans, with proper oversight from the civil engineer (or architect), soils engineer and engineering geologist of record (if applicable). Required inspections are stamped in red on the job copy of the grading permit, along with the phone number of the Planning staff person to contact for clearance of the inspections. These required inspections are reiterated on the permit card and have an asterisk (*) next to the inspection.

It is the responsibility of the owner/applicant to contact the appropriate grading / erosion inspector to perform the required inspections. We strongly encourage applicants to review their permit at the time of issuance and note all required grading or erosion control inspections prior to commencing construction, as their timing may affect other structural inspections.

The following are some typical inspections placed on grading permits. Please note that these are just some of the inspections that may be required; specific inspections are based on the scope of work.

Inspection Description Requirements to be Completed Prior to Inspection Consultant Submittals
Prior to Ground Disturbance
Preconstruction Meeting Field meeting held prior to any ground disturbance. Typical meeting participants include: owner/applicant, professional responsible for preparation of the grading plan, soils engineer, engineering geologist, biologist (if applicable), and the grading contractor. Meeting agenda items should include but not be limited to: construction schedule, erosion control provisions, staging areas, identification of contacts for construction issues, and subsequent required inspections. All setbacks, including riparian, limits of grading/disturbance should be staked in the field, and perimeter sediment control must be in place prior to meeting. None (unless specified on plans)
Prior to Foundation Excavation
Rough Grade A rough grade inspection may be required prior to foundation excavation for permits that include engineered fill below foundation elements, structures that must meet geotechnical or geologic setbacks from natural or graded slopes, or other projects that involve graded pads. Prior to the inspection, please stake the proposed building corners and install erosion control prior to inspection. All consultant submittals must be received by Environmental Planning staff prior to scheduling inspection. Letter from soils engineer and engineering geologist (as applicable) that includes engineered fill observations and tests (keyway observations, compaction tests, etc.) and states that the grading-to-date and the proposed building location are in conformance with the recommendations of the soils and/or geology report.
Prior to Foundation Pour
Soils Letter Before Foundation Pour This submittal is required prior to the pouring of foundations for projects where foundations are embedded into engineered fill, adjacent to slopes, or where variable soil conditions may exist. They are also required for non-conventional foundations, such as piers. The purpose is to confirm that all foundations are embedded into proper material and meet all slope setbacks prior to foundation pour. Foundations must be excavated (but not poured) and consultant submittals received by the grading / erosion control inspector prior to inspection sign-off. Please note: A field inspection may be required, per the discretion of the grading / erosion control inspector. Letter from the geotechnical engineer of record to the grading/erosion control inspector prior to the foundation pour. This letter should include compaction tests for all fills beneath foundation elements and confirmation that the depth of footing excavations meets the requirements of the soils report and/or the current edition of the California Building Code (including the required setback from adjacent slopes).
Prior to Project Final
Final Letter from the Civil Engineer or Architect This letter may be requested for projects that require major grading. The intent of the letter is to confirm that all grading was performed in accordance with the approved plans and to describe any deviations. Where warranted due to substantial variances from the approved plans, a change order application and as-built grading plans may be required. Please submit letter after all project grading and drainage is complete, and prior to scheduling the "Final Grading Inspection" with the grading / erosion control inspector. A letter from the Civil Engineer or licensed architect responsible for the approved grading plans. The letter shall be based on field observations, and shall state that all grading is in conformance with the grading plans and notes (and approves) all deviations from said plans.
Final Letter from the Soils Engineer and/or Geologist The intent of this letter is to summarize the observations and tests the soils engineer and engineering geologist have made during construction and provide final approval of the project with respect to its conformance with the consultant report recommendations. Please Note: If the final soils letter identifies any items of work remaining to be completed or that any portions of the project were not observed by the soils engineer, you will be required to complete the remaining items of work and may be required to perform destructive testing in order for your permit to obtain a final inspection.

 

Please submit letter after all project construction, grading and drainage installation is complete, and prior to scheduling the "Final Grading Inspection" with Environmental Planning Staff. The final letter from the soils engineer and/or engineering geologist summarizes the observations* and the tests the soils engineer and/or engineering geologist has made during construction. The final letter must also state the following: "Based upon our observations and tests, the project has been completed in conformance with our geotechnical [or geologic] recommendations."

 

Final Grading and Erosion Control Inspection This is an inspection by Environmental Planning staff prior to project final to confirm that all grading and drainage improvements have been constructed in accordance with the accepted plans, technical reports and applicable codes, and that all erosion control measures are in place and adequate. Prior to scheduling an inspection, the following requirements must be satisfied: All consultant submittals have been received by the grading / erosion control inspector; all grading is complete; retaining walls and buildings are complete; downspouts and surface drainage system and outlets have been installed; final landscaping or other erosion control measures are installed on all bare/disturbed soils. See requirements for "Final Letter from the Civil Engineer or Architect", and "Final Letter from the Soils Engineer or Geologist"
*The final soils letter typically includes (but is not limited to) observations of all grading, foundations, retaining walls, surface drainage system installation and outlet locations, and recommended curtain drains or other subsurface drainage installations.
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