One big problem I ran into was identifying the locations of things on our site plan. I had a PDF copy, and I knew the scale, but I didn't have the CAD file so I had to do all the measurements manually. I initially just measured things on my paper copy using my tape measure, which worked fairly well, but it was slow. Eventually, I converted the PDF to a PNG using Inkscape (excellent free software!) and then imported it into ImageJ.
ImageJ works well for measuring microscopy images, but it worked well here too. I set my scale and then picked specific points I knew (for example, one corner of our cleared area). Then I measured the distance from that point to every corner of the pond. Once I did this with at least two reference starting locations, I could triangulate all of the ponding corners. I bought a 300' tape measure, and used a 9" nails to hold the end at my reference point, then walked out the needed distance. Since I didn't know exactly where I needed to stop, I drew an arc in the dirt at my given distance (eg, the pond length was 170', so I staked the tape measure at one corner, walked 170', then drew about a 20' long arc at 170' away). I then moved my reference to my second point, walked out the distance, and found where it intersected my arc. This method worked reasonably well, considering I was working alone, but I ran into some accuracy issues.
I also didn't realize I needed really tall stakes so we could mark the elevations. Luckily, Mario Cardenas brought a bunch when he came to do the grading, and we surveyed and staked everything again. The entry at our driveway is about 4448' in elevation. We put blue flags at this 48' elevation on all of our posts.
Mario worked his butt off digging up our dirt and moving it around.
Another huge problem was that our dirt is very fine, so it blew away easily and caused massive dust clouds. These clouds clogged the radiators and air filters multiple times. You can somewhat see the dust clouds trailing the Bobcat.
|Leveling the ground near the garage|
|Digging the pond|