commercial property grading

Navigating the Commercial Property Grading Landscape in Tennessee

by | Feb 19, 2024

Commercial property grading is a foundational step in the construction process in Tennessee. Without it, properties run the risk of severe structural damage. It lays down the groundwork for a successful and safe construction project.

Although grading may seem straightforward, it requires a thorough understanding of local building codes, zoning regulations, and the unique geographical features of Tennessee. With its diverse terrain, including varying landscapes and hilly urban areas, the state presents specific challenges for landscape grading.

In Tennessee, effective landscape grading requires clearing topsoil to accommodate irrigation systems, smoothing surfaces for planting, and reshaping slopes and elevations to improve drainage. This process enhances the property’s aesthetic appeal and ensures its functionality and structural integrity.

Join us as we provide property owners and investors a comprehensive guide to navigating Tennessee’s commercial property grading landscape.


Join us as we provide property owners and investors a comprehensive guide to navigating Tennessee’s commercial property grading landscape

In Tennessee, property grading regulations typically fall under building codes and zoning regulations set by local governments. These regulations manage stormwater runoff, prevent erosion, protect water quality, and promote proper development practices.

While the exact requirements may vary by jurisdiction, there are fundamental guidelines that property owners and investors should understand concerning grading regulations in Tennessee:

  • Depending on the scale and nature of grading activities, a permit may be required from the local government before any grading work can begin.
  • It is mandatory to incorporate erosion control measures, like silt fences and erosion control blankets, during and after grading operations to prevent sedimentation and protect nearby water bodies.
  • Managing stormwater runoff from the property may require implementing measures like retention ponds, swales, or other stormwater management practices to control runoff volume and quality.
  • Setback requirements may dictate how close grading activities can occur to property boundaries, structures, or environmentally sensitive areas like streams, wetlands, or steep slopes.
  • Property owners may need a licensed professional engineer to design and oversee grading activities for larger-scale projects.
  • Similar to other stages in a construction project, qualified individuals conduct inspections to ensure compliance with local regulations and permit conditions.

Failure to comply with grading regulations can result in fines, penalties, or enforcement actions by local authorities. Property owners must understand and adhere to the applicable rules to avoid potential legal issues.


Impact of Topography on Commercial Property Grading

The variation in Tennessee’s topography presents various challenges and opportunities for commercial property grading. Steep slopes in mountainous regions may require extensive earthwork and stabilization measures to ensure stability and prevent erosion. On the other hand, flat plains and plateaus may offer easier grading conditions but could pose drainage challenges during heavy rainfall. Additionally, the presence of rivers and streams may require careful consideration of floodplain regulations and protection measures.

This knowledge all goes to show the importance of fully understanding the impact of Tennessee’s topography on grading and learning how to adapt for successful commercial property landscaping grading projects. Let’s take a closer look at some of the individual topography concerns specific to Tennessee:

  1. Slopes and Grading Challenges: As previously mentioned, Tennessee’s mountainous regions feature steep slopes, which can present challenges for grading commercial properties. Since grading involves reshaping slopes, it is especially important for grading in hillside regions to carefully plan out a design that will ensure stability and prevent erosion.
  2. Drainage Considerations: Nashville is one of the many cities across Tennessee that suffers from flooding and drainage issues. The varying elevation levels across Tennessee can affect drainage patterns on commercial properties. Proper grading allows water to run off effectively and avoid issues like flooding or soil erosion.
  3. Soil Composition: Different regions within Tennessee contain different soil compositions, all of which can impact grading efforts. Some soils in the Western part of the state are described as silty and like powder, making them more prone to erosion or compaction. When it comes to proper drainage and foundation stability, implementing the right grading techniques can help ensure the long-term variability of the project.
  4. Erosion Control Measures: Like anywhere with diverse topography, erosion control measures are necessary to prevent soil erosion on commercial properties. Grading may involve techniques such as terracing, retaining walls, and vegetation establishment to stabilize slopes and minimize erosion risks.
  5. Environmental Regulations: Tennessee’s topography influences environmental regulations related to landscaping and grading. Certain areas may be subject to stricter regulations to protect natural resources such as waterways, wetlands, and wildlife habitats. This protection will greatly influence grading practices and overall landscaping design.

Property owners can carefully consider the terrain and topography to create an attractive, functional, and sustainable landscape that complements Tennessee’s natural beauty.


Navigating the Grading Permit Process

Like many other states, Tennessee has guidelines and regulations to ensure proper grading practices. These regulations balance aesthetic appeal with functional integrity while preserving natural resources. Obtaining a permit should be mandatory to ensure that grading is carried out correctly. In Tennessee, this process entails several steps to guarantee compliance with local regulations and environmental standards.

Here’s a general guide to provide property owners with an overview of what the process looks like:

  1. Research the specific grading permit requirements and regulations in the county of the property, as each region may have its own rules.
  2. Contact the local planning or building department to inquire about the grading permit application process. They can provide the required documentation, application forms, and fees.
  3. Gather all required documents and information for the grading permit application, such as site plans, proposed grading, drainage features, and erosion control measures.
  4. Complete the grading permit application form and submit it to the local permitting authority.
  5. The permitting authority will review the application to ensure compliance with zoning regulations, environmental requirements, and other applicable laws.
  6. If the permitting authority requests revisions or additional information, promptly address their feedback and resubmit the revised application package as needed.
  7. Once the grading permit application is approved, the permitting authority will issue the permit.

As providers of grading services in the Nashville metro area, we are very familiar with the specific permitting process for Nashville. For more detailed information on grading permits and the application process, refer to the Metropolitan Nashville– Davidson County Stormwater Management Manual, Volume 1 checklist. Additionally, you can access the actual application form here.


The Role of Technology in Commercial Property Grading

Technology is crucial in modern commercial property grading and leveling by offering innovative solutions to enhance efficiency, accuracy, and sustainability. Given Tennessee’s diverse terrain, leveraging cutting-edge technologies can significantly improve the overall grading process. Here are some of the latest advancements and their potential applications in commercial property grading:

  1. Digital Terrain Modeling (DTM): DTM technology utilizes aerial surveys, LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), and other remote sensing techniques to create detailed 3D terrain models. These models accurately represent the existing topography, allowing engineers and designers to analyze slopes, drainage patterns, and other vital factors more effectively.
  2. Machine Control Systems: Machine control systems use GPS (Global Positioning System) and onboard sensors to guide grading equipment like bulldozers and graders precisely. By integrating real-time data with digital terrain models, these systems give operators more precise grading results with minimal rework.
  3. Automated Grading Equipment: Automated grading equipment, equipped with advanced software and sensors, can perform grading tasks autonomously or with minimal operator intervention. These machines can follow pre-programmed grading plans or adjust grading parameters in real time based on site conditions, resulting in consistent and efficient grading operations.

Ultimately, these three technological advancements will enhance the success and viability of commercial properties in Tennessee.


Choosing the Right Grading Service Provider in Tennessee

When selecting a grading service provider in Tennessee, conducting thorough research is essential to ensure compliance. Hiring a qualified, well-versed professional in local regulations can make all the difference in ensuring services follow the laws.

Before commencing your search, familiarize yourself with zoning laws, environmental regulations, and permitting processes. This preemptive knowledge enables you to verify that potential providers possess the requisite licenses, certifications, and experience specific to Tennessee. Ensure they carry adequate insurance coverage, utilize modern equipment, and boast a strong reputation supported by positive reviews and testimonials.

Once you’ve narrowed your list, request quotes from your top candidates and prioritize selecting a provider who emphasizes communication, transparency, and accessibility throughout the project. Finally, ensure all project details are clearly outlined in a written contract to prevent misunderstandings. By following these steps, you can confidently choose a grading service provider capable of delivering quality work while adhering to legal requirements.





About Reed Land & Hardscaping

Finding a reputable commercial property grading company in Tennessee should not be a difficult task, especially with companies like Reed Landscaping around. Reed Landscaping assures the highest quality experience in excavation, grading, site utilities, and geotechnical remediation.

Reed Landscaping is Middle Tennessee’s most versatile landscape construction, hardscape, and site contractor. There’s no job that Reed Landscaping can’t handle–especially when it comes to commercial property grading! With extensive experience in grading landscapes in cities like Nashville and Brentwood, Reed Landscaping can provide professional services for a project of any size. With the launch of our new website, Reed Landscaping is excited to showcase our completed projects and pictures here.

If you’re ready to start your project, reach out to Reed Landscaping. Our team of property grading experts will help you achieve the look and feel you are searching for on your next construction project.

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