Glossary of Sitework Common Terms and Jargon

In the construction industry, like many other industries, we have a lot of jargon. There are some words that you’d really have no clue what they mean if you haven’t been working in our world for a while. Sitework in particular has even more specialized terms. Do you even know what the term sitework covers? It’s grading, excavation, sediment control, utilities, curbs and paving. We thought an overview of some of the trickier sitework common terms would be helpful, so we’ve compiled a list below.

Some sitework common terms and jargon include:

Backfill: a term used to refer to placing dirt or stone behind an existing wall or structure.

Box Blade: a piece of equipment that is pulled behind a tractor to pull and level dirt. The blade or box can be tilted so the blade will either dig deeper to collect dirt or skim across the top to level the dirt.

Cut-Fill/Borrow/Excess/Dirt Balance: refers to how many cubic yards of dirt will be excavated, moved, placed and compacted on a job site. After the excavation (Cuts) are completed, the site may have too much dirt (Excess) or not enough (Borrow). Ideally, an owner wants to have a Balanced site to avoid the costs of hauling Excess off-site or buying Borrow material. 

Density Test: a test done to verify the compaction effort of soil, stone or blacktop. This is done with a density testing instrument, which will measure the effort of compaction using ASTM T-99 or T-180 test methods. Generally, there is a 5% difference between the methods.

Grubbing: completed by using a root rake or blade to remove buried roots and limbs not removed during clearing. This is critical in the clearing of a jobsite.

Sheep’s Foot: a heavy piece of equipment used in dirt compaction. Because of the angle of the projections on the roller, the Sheep’s Foot is able to compact at a high value per square inch.

Top Soil: a type of soil in sitework that is normally used to provide a good growing base for vegetation. This soil is usually dark in color and a sandy loam consistency.

Water Tap: a phrase used to refer to tapping into the water main for service to a house or building.

This list could go on and on, so let us know if you think we need to add some other terms to our list, or if you have questions about any of these. Hopefully, you now know a little more about sitework and won’t be confused if these terms come up!

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