April 29, 2019

Understand Soil Conditions Before You Build

Ask A Pro_Barsness

Constructing a new building is exciting! As an owner, you want to see the finished product rise to the sky. However, it’s what lies below your feet that often reveals potential up-front risk in the project.

Before you build, it’s essential to determine whether or not the soil makeup on site will adequately support your building and parking lots.

Granular materials and lean clays are typically the best as they usually perform uniformly. Silts and expansive “fat” clays are less desirable, and typically require costly imported “engineered” soil to improve the performance of a buildings foundation. The presence of undocumented “fills” on a site, which are typically soil materials that may have been dumped on a site over a period of time could also require costly soil corrections. Engineered fills and other soil corrections do add costs to construction project, but those costs can be minimized when known well prior to design and construction.

How do you know what soils are on site? Start with a geotechnical survey. It provides a detailed analysis of the makeup of the soils on your property. Geotechnical and Structural engineers will then tailor soil improvements and structural designs to help ensure proper structural performance and minimization of differential settlement to mitigate unwanted (and often expensive) surprises down the road.