Whoever said “no one cares about your grades after you graduate,” clearly never met the Development Services department of the City of Edmonton! If you’re a local property owner, there’s actually one set of grades that matters a lot—rough grade and final grade. These “grades” matter so much that neglecting them can cost you dearly. Here’s what you need to know about final grading in Edmonton.
What is Final Grade?
Final Grade is a mandatory inspection by the City of Edmonton that regulates the topography of a lot with respect to water drainage. The inspection enforces the city’s Drainage Bylaws.
Final Grade is awarded when a city inspector can see demonstrable evidence that water will not be diverted where it can cause damage to the property. For instance, if a landscaper or home builder were not aware of Final Grade requirements, they may inadvertently overlook a slope that directs water toward a building’s foundation.
To prevent property damage related to poor drainage, the city has strict requirements for grading residential and commercial properties. For residential properties, these requirements are contained in the City of Edmonton’s Lot Grading Guidelines.
Rough Grade vs. Final Grade
If you’ve ever heard the construction term “rough grading,” you may already be familiar with how grading affects the functionality of an entire property. Rough grading refers to the shaping of the lot and backfilling of foundation walls, which act as the fundamental building blocks for the rest of the construction and landscaping. The rough grading process is a precursor to the Rough Grade and Final Grade inspections.
Once a builder or landscaper completes rough grading according to the approved Lot Grading Plan, a city inspector must approve the job before the team can continue to build upon the work. This is called the Rough Grade inspection. The reason this inspection must take place is, should the inspector find any drainage issues, the issue can then be corrected before more development takes place on the property.
After the Rough Grade is approved, the builders and landscapers can continue working on the property to near-completion. Once the building and landscape are functionally finished, the property owner can apply for a Final Grade Approval. This must take place within a year of the Rough Grade Approval in order to be valid.
For the Final Grade inspection, the property must pass a series of criteria to ensure the work won’t cause drainage issues on the lot or the neighbouring lots. If the property passes the inspection, a Lot Grading Certificate is awarded and the property is considered compliant with city drainage bylaws.
What You Need to Know
Whether you’re a builder or homeowner, these important facts are good to keep in mind before applying for Final Grade Approval for the first time.
Both the Rough Grade and Final Grade stages are the responsibility of the property owner. If you are purchasing a home from a builder, it’s extremely important to discuss with the builder whether they will be managing one or both stages of grading approvals.
Rough and Final Grade inspections must be completed by a survey professional. You can hire the same professional to complete both inspections.
There are time limits on every step of the grading process. Since the objective of grading bylaws is to prevent drainage-related issues, the City is very strict about timeliness with respect to grading. This is to prevent a property from sitting around indefinitely with glaring drainage problems. Property owners must initiate Final Grade Approval within one year of the Rough Grade Approval, within 60 days of completing the final grade, or within 30 months of receiving a building permit.
Grading is not a “one and done” deal. As the property owner, you are responsible for maintaining the grade of your property as long as you own the lot. If a grading issue on your property causes damage to you or your neighbour’s lot, you may be held liable and your home insurance coverage may be impacted. Refer to the City of Edmonton’s Lot Grading Inspections brochure for residential properties as a user-friendly guide to the factors that impact the grading of your property.
If you have questions or concerns about the grading plan for your lot, or about a potential grading issue on your property, contact our team. Having served the Edmonton area for the past 55 years, the Salisbury Landscaping team has a thorough knowledge of lot grading bylaws and requirements. We’ll be happy to visit your property, assess the area, and help you develop a plan to make the grade!