ELON / HAWK RIDGE/ POLO RELIEF SCHOOL

This project requires land development of an residential lot in Charlotte, NC to make way for a new school that will relieve overcrowding in the Elon, Hawk Ridge, and Polo Ridge schools. The residential lot to be graded was a single family ranch home that sat on a 15.86 acre lot. The land development will include the standard grading along with a detention pond for erosion control.

Project State Date: May 2022
Project End Date: Nov 2023

Project Location: Charlotte, NC
Project Acreage: 15.86

Project Intention: Public School
Project Customer: Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools

UPDATE 1

FROM HOME TO SCHOOL

The chosen lot for the Elon/Hawk Ridge/Polo Relief School was a two house dwelling sitting on a idealic ranch lot. Being a home that had some existing grading done meant that less habitat change was required for land grading and site development. When developing land that was previously graded it can be a mixed bag. On one hand you have less to clear but on the other hand the existing grading can be all wrong for the coming construction. This particular site gave no problems for land development for the coming school.

COMMUNITY MEASURES

The site that was chosen for the school was immediately adjacent to a residential community and across the street from a pre-existing high school so careful considerations had to be taken. We put in place innovative measures to control noise and dust in order to not disrupt the daily lives of the people of the local community. We also faced a challenge with school students trying to cut across the lot in order to get home to the adjacent communities. To overcome this we constructed fencing and other creative solutions to offer passage but to minimize any danger to any students from the school across the road.

CHANGE OF PLANS

Sometimes when doing site works plans need to change.  This was the case with this project. Some structures needed to be added to the construction plan so we had to adjust the development of some areas and increse the size of the detention pond in order to accomodate the changes. Any time we work on a project we always anticipate changes and make sure we have contingicies in place to accomodate them.

UPDATE 2

KEEPING THE RUNOFF FROM RUNNING OFF

The detention pond was created in the corner of the lot to keep the erosion of the lot to a minimum. The pond contains baffles that filter the silt and make it settle on the bottom of the pond so that the only thing that comes out of the pond is clean water. This is beneficial for the health of the surrounding habitats of the lot which include a small forest, a residential neighborhood, and a busy highway.  

FINISHING UP THE DEBRIS REMOVAL

At the time of this update the remnants of the debris from the lot were all being rounded up and being removed from the lot in order to allow the real dirt grading to begin. Every job has different specifications on where debris should be taken to or what should be done with it. Here at JL Raper we have significant experience in this and can help advise on this. For this particular project, most of the debris was chipped up and turned into quality mulch which was sold to vendors. 

 

RUNNING INTO SURPRISES

One thing that any company that has been doing site works for any amount of time will know is that sometimes you run into surprises that aren’t forseen. With this particual project that surprise was the existence of two sewage tanks on the lot. The owers of the lot knew about a well but were unaware of the two sewage tanks. While grading we discovered the tanks and took appropriate measures to safely remove them.

 

UPDATE 3

LAYING THE PIPES

The work being down on the school site at the time of this update included the grading for the foundation slab for the school as well as the parking areas. After the land devolping is done for this next would be the installation of the underground pipes for sewage and fire systems.

MANAGING THE TOPSOIL

The large mound of dirt that is sitting in the middle of the jobsite is the topsoil that was removed from lot. A lot of it is being held in order to be used on the areas that will contain grass, trees, flowers, etc. But the remaining topsoil will be taken and used by the customer on other sites. The customer was still working out all the logistics on where they wanted the topsoil to be moved so in order to preserve it we tarped the topsoil to protect it from damage until the customer is ready for it to be moved. 

WORKING WITH COMITTEES 

Sometimes a job can be quite complicated, especially if there are a lot of people, departments, entities, etc. involved. Here at JL Raper we are comfortable with these complicated situations and we know how to submit information correctly and to wait on responses before doing anything. We understand the politics of business and will never do anything to make any project more difficult than it has to be.

UPDATE 4

RECYCLING THE TOPSOIL

Being a full service grading and land deelopment company means that we have the ability to plan ahead when it comes to material like topsoil Not only are we clearning and excavating the land on this project, but we are also doing the curbing and landscaping. So instead of wasting money on removing topsoil and then paying to bring more topsoil back in we have stored the topsoil onsite in order to reuse it on the areas where landscaping and curbing will be needed to beautify the site after all the grading has been done. This saves money for the client and it is way better for the environment.

SCREENING THE SOIL

On top of saving the topsoil to reuse later on in the project we also brought in sifters to ensure the soil is free of large rocks or any other debris that could cause problems later on in the development of the land for use as a school. This step is critical to ensure no problems later on in the grading of the site and helps to make the landscaping, curbing, and any other land development process go smoother.

 

UPDATE 5

INSTALLING UTILITY

An ofter overlooked aspect of any grading or site development is the installation of utility pipe in order to facilitate proper water and sewage movement underground. Laying these pipes isn’t something that just any company can do. All pipe laying must be completed by a pipe specialist that knows slope percentages to make sure whatever liquid inside the pipe flows in the right direction and at the right flow. JL Raper is a Public Utility Contractor and we do all utility connections and installs on our grading projects.

PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE

One of the advantages of using a full service grading and land development company like JL Raper is that we do everything from the initial grading of the land to the final curbing and landscaping. This means that as we are moving the earth we can plan ahead for what we know we will be doing towards the end and can keep those plans in mind as we develop the site. This saves money and time for the client. 

UPDATE 6

NAVIGATING THE CROWD

One of the things that a lot of grading companies (and any construction company) has to learn is how to do what they need to do on the jobsite while the jobsite is littered with other companies doing lots of different things. Its all too easy to get frustrated and stop or slow down what you are doing because you have to work around the crowd. Here at JL Raper we know how to work well with others. Our staff have been trained on how to get the land development work done when fully surrounded by other contractors and, most importantly, how to do it safely. It simply requires a high level of alertness, patience, and communication with others. Our process keeps the work going and any negative incidents from happening.

WATCHING THE WEATHER

Its no surprise that weather plays a vital role in job completion when doing any site development. Staying up to date on all weather forecasts and being able to make wise decisions on what the day may bring is something we pride ourselves on. We know that sometimes a forecast of rain just means sprinkles. We keep a keen eye on all weather indicators to truly understand what the day may hold. Of course we are wrong sometimes, but we try to keep it to a minimum.

 

UPDATE 7

PARKING FOR ALL

A large part of the grading and development of the parking lot has already been completed. We did this in order to make it easier for construction crews to park their personal vehicles. This gets the personal vehicles out of the way so that they do not interfere with construction on the site. Usually, this is done at a later stage but we have experience with how disruptive personal vehicles can be on a construction site so we do this in order to make the efficiency of the grading and construction as high as possible. 

SMALL DETAILS

Its the little things that can add up to make a construction project complete on-time or late. Doing grading and site works for years has given us a perspective that not many other companies have. This is why we do small things like grading small hills in order house material and equipment. This keeps them out of the way of the construction equipment and keeps the land development of the school moving along on schedule. We also construct roads in order to make it easier for trucks and other equipment to traverse the job site. All of these small things add up to make sure the job gets complete as soon as possible. 

UPDATE 8

IN THE SEWER

At the time of this update there isn’t a lot going on as far as grading and land development. Most of the focus is on the construction of the buildings. During these times we stay focused while waiting on other contractors to finish their projects by getting ahead of the game with seweage pipe laying and installation.

PREPARING FOR THE STORM

An important thing to keep in mind when developing a plot of land is stormwater runoff and how it will affect the lot. Our roots run deep when it comes to managing stormwater and erosion. We fully understand the best way to control stormwater and channel it in an effective way so that it will never become an issue on any developed land. 

UPDATE 9

PREPARING FOR FINALS

The main building and surrounding buildings are going up and going up fast. We are preparing for the finalization of the project but still cutting out roads and curbing, getting the project ready for finishing. 

GRADING NEVER STOPS

A project of this size takes many months to complete. In the beginning the grading and site development is where most of the work is. As the project goes on construction of the buildings takes the center stage. But this isn’t to say there still isn’t site development to be done. We understand how to pace out our work and schedule it alongside other milestones in order to ensure that everything is working in unison with the grading of the school site. 

UPDATE 10

IN THE ROAD

JL Raper is finishing and connecting the main road going in to the school to the highway and to the adjacent housing community. Being able to work on this road while it is being used by all construction crews is a bit of a game of chess that takes a company with experience to be able manage.

DEALING WITH THE HEAT

One thing that inexperience companies don’t take into account is the heat during the summer months. Extreme heat can slow down and stop production due to the damage it can cause to workers and their equipment. Allowing adequate cool-down breaks for workers and for equipment is vital to keeping everything moving during those days where temperatures rise over 90 degrees!

UPDATE 11

THE ROADS NEVER STOP

Work still continues on grading the roads for the school and then curbing around the roads. With large projects like this roads can sometimes be overlooked but their importance should not be understated! Correctly graded and curbed roads can make a lot accessible or a nightmare if done incorrectly. Here at JL Raper we ensure that all roads are correctly graded and curbed to provide proper access to the site for years in the future. 

HIRING THE BEST

At JL Raper, excellence is not just a goal; it’s a standard we uphold every day. We take pride in our commitment to employing the best and brightest individuals in the industry. Our rigorous hiring process ensures that our team members possess not only the necessary skills but also a passion for precision and a dedication to delivering top-notch results. We understand that the quality of our work directly impacts our clients, and that’s why we invest heavily in the training and development of our employees. Through continuous education and hands-on experience, we ensure that every member of our team is equipped with the expertise required to execute their tasks with utmost accuracy and efficiency.

UPDATE 12

AVOIDING DELAYS

Delays are a sometime unfortunate reality when it comes to large construction project like this but that doesn’t mean they have to be. We take a meticulouos pre-planning approach in order to account for anything that may cause delays. Of course when working with other crews sometimes things are out of our control. If this unfortunate situation arises we always make sure that we are actively completing all required items in order to gurantee that JL Raper is never a cause for any delay. 

UPDATE 13

DETAILS BEING ADDED

At this point in the project the majority of the grading has been finished and small details are being added to the school construction site. One thing being added is the playground pads, finishing touches on the side road that connects the front school parking lot to the main road, and site work is being completed on the land beside the roadway.   At this stage in the development of the job site the detail work of playgrounds, curbing for roads, grading for walkways, and more can require very meticulous planning and execution. Its best to have a professional company like JL Raper that can handle such fine detailed work. 

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