What is Grading in Construction?

Grading is the process of flattening and shaping the soil to best suit the project requirements. This is done by adjusting the elevation or specific slope of the soil in construction. Usually, the quickest and most effective way to do this, is by using a grader, like in the image. Proper grading enhances property values and contributes to the success of a development project. Typical grading uses in construction work include preparation for the foundation, grading for a road or a railway, and landscape and garden improvements, or surface drainage.  For existing buildings, grading may be required to improve drainage and create the desired appearance for landscaping features. Grading is a major component of the function and success of a construction project. Site design is the foundation upon which many other elements of development depend. Without proper ground preparation, construction results could be catastrophic. 

Grader grading a construction site

A grader is often used in order to grade the construction site.

Importance Of Grading

  There are many benefits to land grading. Grading creates ideal terrain for the construction of buildings, structures, and other land uses.  By grading the land, you can improve the property’s appearance, make it more functional, and aid in managing surface runoff, soil erosion, and sedimentation.  The management of surface runoff reduces the risk of flooding and other water damage. Also, by shaping the ground, you can enhance the property’s appearance and make it more functional. 

The Grading Of A Site Serves Four Basic Purposes:

  1. Grading re-forms the land surface to make it compatible with the intended land use.
  2. Grading establishes and controls the new drainage patterns.
  3. Grading helps define the character and aesthetics of the site.
  4. Preparing land to bear construction weight.
  Aside from these goals, grading will vary depending on each project’s scale and needs.

Construction Grading Types and Purposes

  Depending on a construction site’s needs, the project’s optimal execution may need different types of site grading.  Here are six types of construction grading basics that may occur on a site.  

1. Landscape Grading

  Undergoing a landscaping project may call for topsoil removal and making the site more aesthetic.  It may serve to install irrigation systems, prepare areas for planting, and change slopes or elevations to improve drainage or create a change in appearance.  Water drainage is vital in landscape projects because pooling can damage plant life.  

2. Architectural Grading

  Architectural grading changes the shape of the land for a new building project. Whether it be a new home, housing development, or commercial property.  This process relates to changing the contours of the landscape. This is for proper accommodate drainage, removing undesirable elevations, and preparing foundation areas.  

3. Regrading

  Regrading involves lowering or raising the land’s level. This can involve small projects like yards. It can also benefit large projects like commercial real estate construction. A structure sitting on a level area allows enough water drainage and ensures the building is on secure ground.  

4. Rough Grading

  Rough grading may include adding, removing, or relocating topsoil, ensuring water drains effectively.  It is used for landscaping projects, providing a base for turf development.  

5. Finished Grading

  It uses for specific purposes such as gravel roads and earthworks projects. Finished grading puts the final touches on the site. This step provides a smooth surface by removing such items as large chunks of soil, rocks, and other undesirable debris.  In landscaping projects, finish grading is about shaping the desired area to prepare for planting, seeding, or sodding.  

6. Final Grade

  This is the last step in the construction site grading process. Final grading construction involves covering the area with sand or topsoil that promotes plant growth.  

Cost Considerations

  Land grading may need a certified engineer or landscape architect, even for small sites.  Grading costs include establishing final grades and incorporating stormwater management, erosion, and sediment controls into the development plan. As spots become larger and more complex, these costs increase. Some situations can increase the costs, like construction staff may need extra time to construct diversions. Or, when the site requires off-site fill for low-lying areas or depressions.  


There are two main limitations have in mind:
  1. Maintaining a vegetated buffer or implementing adequate erosion and sediment control is essential. Ignoring this can promote the off-site transport of sediments and other pollutants.
  2. Grading has to preserve existing drainage patterns as much as possible. If land grading disrupts drainage, then storm water flows might cause damage to the building or landscape.

The Bottom Line

Grading is a necessary part of any construction process, and understandably, it can also be costly.  Choosing the right contractor to handle your grading can not only save you money, but also ensure that your construction project has a greater chance of success. If you need a construction company that can do it all, then don’t hesitate to contact us here.