We can’t take too much credit for this project as one of our former partners designed this grading plan in Torrance. He decided to take some time out from Civil Engineering to go become a Beach Volleyball star. Every single Civil Engineer I have met seems to have some other big hobby that turns into a job. Very multitasking degree it seems. You can read about my obsession with cars in previous blog posts.
I got an email from him asking us to help out the developer on a job that was finishing up and needed a grading certification to get the (C of O) certificate of occupancy. We seem to be rushing just about everything lately, and this was no different. I got on the phone with the developer and he wanted us out there ASAP. So we made some time out of our hectic schedule and went out to inspect the job site to make sure the grading plans matched up with the construction.
I was pleasantly surprised to see a nice new building that matched in pretty well to the street’s other residential homes. The grading was done right after walking the entire site. The finishes looked very nice too. Something Wilson commented on as well, as we walked up and down the sideyard stairs. The first thing that stuck out to me was how come there are drains onsite? Turns out after finding the general contractor he decided to add some drains to help get water away from the building. I have mixed opinions on doing this. The end result makes sense and helps get a lot of water offsite through an underground stormwater pipe system. The problem is that the exit point needs to be changed as it currently goes to a bubbler that drains over the sidewalk. This has to go under the sidewalk through the curb face. Also the City inspector did not like seeing drainage devices that differed from the original grading plans. So what turned out to be a simple grading certification turned into some more work with us updating the original grading plans. No big deal, but some extra cost and time are associated with this.
The design is better in theory, but its a toss up if the original grading plans were better. Sheet flow has less issues since there is no possible clogging. But piping is a cleaner solution. The main point on this particular project is that even if the system was to clog the stormwater will still sheet flow off the property. The grading works and is a plus once everything is said and done.
The last item I was curious about was what is this pipe? I originally thought this was the drain for the stormwater. It turns out the general contractor used this pipe to daylight the subdrain for the short retaining wall along the sideyard. I had a short conversation with him about this as I wondered if this showed up on anyone’s plans or if he came up with the solution himself. He came up with the solution and I was really happy to hear that. Sometimes the cities want us to show the subdrain system on our grading plans. But I have never seen the subdrains built to our grading plans. So we try to stay away from showing them. The Geo soils reports generally say what to do, but don’t show the plan view of the subdrains. The structural shows a section view of the subdrains, but I haven’t seen a plan view before either on the structural plans. I like to talk to other Civil Engineers and the subdrains seem to be a questionable device that no one ever shows on their plans. Its great to see that the general contractor is thinking through the whole project and making this overlooked stuff work in the field.
The rush on this part of the project is high as 2 of the 3 units have already sold, and the new owners are ready to move in. This just goes to show how hot the market is in Los Angeles. Torrance especially seems to be hot. This particular project looks great and turned out really well.