Everything you need to know about rough grading

What is Rough Grading?

You can think of rough grading as the “shaping” of your home site. Contractors will level the ground or create a specific slope to set a solid base upon which your new home will be built. The purpose of grading is to provide good drainage and prevent foundation damage down the road. It is a very important step and your property’s grade must be approved by the City of Edmonton.

The city now charges a lot grading inspection fee of $143 per dwelling unit to cover the cost of rough and final grade inspections. The homebuilder is usually responsible for rough grading approval while the homeowner is responsible for the final grade.

The Difference between Rough and Final Grading

The rough grade of the lot is left about 7-20 cm below final grade to allow for the placement of topsoil. When a builder has finished the rough grading, they will have a Lot Grading Certificate prepared and submit it to Development and Zoning Services for approval. A city inspector will conduct an inspection of the site to verify the lot is graded property. This is usually completed within five business days from receipt of the certificate.

An inspection report will be issued that indicates whether the rough grade passes or fails. If there are any deficiencies, they will be noted in the report and the builder has 60 days to make corrections, notify the city and request a second inspection.

During the final grade, topsoil is spread out and compacted to get ready for liners, sod, and other landscaping features. This stage must be completed within 12 months of the rough grade approval. When the final grade has been completed, it becomes the responsibility of the homeowner to have the Lot Grading Certificate prepared and submitted to Development and Zoning Services for approval. If you intend to have decorative landscaping done before this approval, it’s advised that rocks, wood chips, and other porous materials not be used. Water can flow through them and may affect the surveyor’s inspection.

How Long Does Rough Grading Take?

Rough grading of your lot is very dependent on the weather. It’s also important that the ground is dry and solid for proper grading. If it rains, the ground must dry out for about three days before grading can begin or continue.

Grading work usually begins in June, or when the ground is fully thawed and there is no frost. Grading continues through September or when the ground begins to freeze. During this season, our contractors are working to complete an entire year’s worth of work within four months. Your rough grade may take one to two seasons to be completed and approved by the city as last year’s homes will come first.

At Sterling Homes we have multiple crews assigned to grading and landscaping in all community. We do get frequent questions on our schedule but it’s not possible to provide a specific start and end date.

Delays in Rough Grading

Every property is unique. While some properties proceed quickly through the rough grading process, others may have some challenges and take a few visits.

Factors that can cause delays during rough grading include:

  • adjacent construction
  • breakdown of construction equipment
  • grading touch-ups
  • homeowner construction of fencing, decks, garages, and sheds
  • weather delays

Keep in mind, there are also several factors that may cause your rough grade to fail inspection. Common reasons for a failed grade include insufficient rainwater leaders, improper window well depth, or adjacent construction. Although your builder has little control over rough grade inspections – which are done by the City of Edmonton – they’ll work promptly to avoid unnecessary delays in your home construction.

As soon as your home’s rough grade passes, you’ll receive a certificate directly from Sterling Homes via mail (as soon as we receive it from the municipality).

Patience during Rough Grading

If it rains, the ground must dry out for about three days before grading can begin or continue. We cannot do landscaping on wet ground. Why not? If the ground is wet, we will not get proper drainage and the soil will simply not be the correct levels.

Remember grading is a very important process that can’t be rushed. A proper grade is the single greatest method for preventing excess water from compromising the integrity of your foundation and avoiding problems like leaking and/or cracked foundations and swampy lawns in the future.


If your Landscaping is completed- Can I Start to build my Deck or Fence?

For those who have their final grade or landscaping completed in the backyard, you can go ahead and begin on your deck and fence. For our clients living in townhomes and duplexes, with Landscaping included, please avoid making any changes to your front yard landscaping until developer has completed inspection.