Your goal is to build a new home - new home construction. For your new home, the property surface - i.e.: the land on which your new home will be built - is, literally and figuratively, the "foundation" to it all.
With single-family new home construction, before your home builder breaks ground on the project, as the property owner, you will want to ensure that steps are taken to clear and level your buildable residential lot. The foundation for your new home soon will be poured. So any holes found in the property's surface should be filled in. This ensures that the foundation for your new home will be poured on a land surface which has optimal conditions, applicable to new home construction.
The foundation will soon be in. So it's a good idea to use wooden stakes to mark where exactly the foundation will ultimately be poured. If your property turns out to have an uneven surface - i.e.: hills, recesses, dips, mounds, holes... - the next step is, grading.
So while a flat, level lot is, early on in the process of planning your new home-build, what your goal would be - as you approach the pouring of your foundation - an entirely flat, purely level lot with no slope whatsoever throughout the entire property, extending beyond your home's footprint, is not a property surface condition to sustain. Which brings us to, grading.
Grading is the structuring of the surface of the land area, applicable to your new home-build. To summarize, the property's grading is it's slope. As per grading, it is tantamount to ensure there will be proper slope added to the graded property surface. The ideal slope for your home-build project is, for the land on the outer perimeter of your home's foundation to descend away from your newly-built home. This decline - applicable to grading - is important because grading ultimately determines where rainwater - as well as where runoff water from the roof - will flow to.
With positive grade, the land slopes away from your new home. Thereby, positive grade is the desired outcome for your home-build. Insomuchas with positive grade, rainwater - as well as roof run-off - will be directed away from the foundation of your new home. And this is ideal. Positive grade is also referred to as good soil grade.
In contrast to positive grade, negative grade slopes the property surface towards the foundation of your home - and this slope would not be your desired outcome. Negative grade is also known as poor soil grade. Positive grade reduces the risk of erosion, thereby mitigating future foundation damage. With negative grade, erosion - and in turn, potential foundation damage - is more likely possible.
For every one foot that you move away from your home-build's footprint, you will want the ground surface for your property to drop one inch. This application - one foot - drop one inch - should be established for your home-build footprint's perimeter - extending up to ten feet around the perimeter of the footprint.
In terms of "real estate speak", being a real estate broker myself, I often read property descriptions for marketed homes, whereby the property description is written as, having a "level lot." In terms of your new home-build, "level" is not the property surface condition you are looking for. "Level", thereby, is not optimal.
In this article, we touched on the topic of positive grade. And in this article we also touched on the topic of negative grade. Positive grade, and negative grade...so we should also discuss, level grade.
Level grade is a condition where the ground surface is, well, level. I.e.: flat. When building your new home, level grade is a property surface condition which needs to be corrected - not maintained. And this correction can be accomplished, through grading. For your new home-build, you want positive grade.
Level grade should be transitioned to positive grade. So as to ensure there will be proper drainage around the foundation of your new home. This occurs when the property surface is sloped at the optimal decline. I.e.: positive grade. Thus, with positive grade, rainwater - as well as roof run-off - will flow away from the foundation of your new home. As discussed in this article, the then trajectory of rainwater, away from the foundation of your new home, reduces your future risk of foundation damage.
What does grading cost? The typical cost for grading can run between $5.00 to $10.00 per square foot of the property.