3 Things You Should Know Before You Build: How To Prepare Your Site
Updated: Feb 15
While Three Squared is prepared to tackle projects throughout any season (in fact, we've framed up most of our projects in the dead of winter... some even in sub-zero temps), there is still a great deal of planning and preparation that needs to happen before we can set modified containers onto your foundation. Our Three Squared team does not directly manage the tasks related to site preparation, however here is what we can do:
- We can educate you via this post about some steps you'll need to take before you can build, if this is your first time building anything and you would like some guidance.
- We can vet general contractors in your area (this happens during Step 1: Design It) to ensure a strong team is in place to properly prepare your site as well as finish out the build after we've set the containers on site during Step 3: Build It.
So if you are unfamiliar with the steps necessary to prepare your site for building a container home, restaurant, or commercial space, then read our top three suggestions below:
1) Find out your municipality (could be city, county, or state)
Why is it important to know which municipality your site falls under? Because every municipality has its own zoning ordinance that sets regulations for the area. Even before purchasing your site, you have access to these regulations and can get a head start on what would be required if you purchased the land.
What should you look for in advance? We recommend finding out if there are any special rules for additional energy code compliance or ADA requirements.
2) Get familiar with your site
We're often asked what type of foundation works best for shipping container builds, and our answer is always "Well, it depends on the soil!"
Understanding what soil conditions you're working with will dictate what kind of foundation will work best for your project. Not sure what type of soil you're working with? A site survey and geotechnical analysis (soil test) will provide you the information you need. You can get a soil test before beginning design work, but sometimes it can be tough to know WHERE to get soil borings done that early on.
Even more important than the soil is a site survey which will tell you if there are any easements on the land. An easement means that the land contains essential services like a right-of-way (where people are allowed to pass through a defined strip of land on the property) or access to community utilities or telephone lines. Check early on to see if a site survey has been done on your desired lot and how recent it is so you can make sure that any potential easements are up to date.
Next, you'll want to consider any area of the site that needs to be cleared and/or graded for your build. If you have a particularly wooded lot, keep in mind that not only will you need to clear trees for the building itself, but you will also need to clear land for your driveway.
3) Prepare for your utility hookups
The main factor to consider when preparing for your utilities is whether they are easily accessible or not. You can usually find out the answer to this question through a couple web searches and phone calls as long as you have your site's address - and if you need to make a phone call, we'd recommend starting with your municipality's Planning and Zoning Department to point you in the right direction.
The closer your land is to a right of way (which is the main thoroughfare for utilities, water main, sanitary, and sewer), the easier this process will be. If your land is in a rural area, it's likely that you will switch to a septic and well system since city water will be too far to run. Typically, the more rural the site, the greater the cost to bring utilities to your land since there are costs associated with all of the planning, engineering, and trenching required to make those connections.
A worthwhile note regarding City lots:
If you are working with a vacant city lot, there could potentially be footings in the ground that you must pay to remove and haul away/dispose. To make sure you have a good grip on any costs associated with preparing your site for the build, find out if there may have been a previous residence on the lot.
Finally, and this is particularly noteworthy in our home city of Detroit MI, get a backtrack on the property through your real estate agent to find out if there are any liens. These can be an unfortunate surprise if you neglect to look into them ahead of time, so make sure your site has a clear title before purchasing it to prevent paying for any backtaxes down the road.
So you've done your due diligence... now what?
At this point you might be wondering how to move forward to work with our team to help you bring your container project to life. Amazing, we’d love to hear from you! For an opportunity to ask follow up questions and receive an estimate specific to your project, we offer a special 1:1 introductory call with Claire, our Sales + Marketing Manager.
If you are in the early planning stages and just gathering information, we invite you to connect with us for Q&A at 12pm EST on Wednesdays via the Clubhouse app. Learn more here.
If you are eager and prepared to move forward with your project, then please contact us here - we can't wait to hear from you!
(Still have more questions? Check out our FAQ Guide for even more information!)