Did you know that your property’s soil can determine what kind of foundation you should build? That’s right!
There may be over 70,000 types of soil in the world. But every soil has a different makeup and density, which can impact home construction.
If you’re planning on building a home sometime soon, you’ll need to get a soil report. Soil reports are often a must for designing a structurally sound foundation.
How do you understand a soil report and where can you get one? In this post, we answer these questions and more. Keep reading for insight.
What is a Soil Report?
Both home builders and farmers can benefit from soil reports.
If you’re about to build a home, it’s essential to get a soil report before you start. In fact, we recommend getting a soil report before you even start drawing up your site plans. This is because soil reports assess the earth’s conditions where you plan on building.
Understanding a site’s conditions ahead of time is vital for designing strong, resilient structures. Architects and engineers often rely on soil reports when planning constructions of any kind.
Who conducts a soil survey or report?
Only licensed geotechnical engineers or civil engineers experienced in soils engineering can perform soil surveys. When you hire an engineer to conduct a soil survey, he or she will come to your property and drill a hole in the ground at a designated location.
This will enable the engineer to test the soil’s structural integrity–basically, how “strong” or “weak” it is. In some cases, an engineer may need to study a site’s soil sample in a lab to gain further insight into composition and strength.
Soil surveyors also analyze property boundaries, soil types and composition, and groundwater levels. This information is especially important for farmers, who can use these details to determine where and what they should plant.
If you anticipate building a home in an area with low-strength soil, you may be required to obtain a soil report before starting construction. The same goes for buildings with fill-supported foundations and constructions on steep slopes.
It’s always wise to see if your property is located in a floodplain. If so, you will definitely have to get a soil survey to ensure your foundation passes muster!
Understanding a Soil Survey
Now you know what a soil report is all about. How do you actually understand one?
You don’t need to be an engineer yourself to wade through your soil report’s technical details. Simply focus on what is going to be most important to you.
For home builders, this will include soil capacity bearing, soil reactivity, and groundwater levels. Farmers will want to pay attention to soil distribution, nutrient makeup, and groundwater levels.
If you have any questions about your report, ask your engineer. Architects and local builders can also be vital resources.
Soil Capacity Bearing and Reactivity
Soil capacity bearing refers to how much weight your property’s soil can support. This can be helpful for determining which type of foundation your home will need, including footing and slab types.
If your soil has a low capacity bearing, you may need to have deeper footers or even a different type of foundation.
Soil reactivity concerns the soil’s likelihood of moving, contracting, or otherwise expanding in the future. It often has to do with your soil’s moisture content.
A soil report can provide information about your soil’s nutrient makeup. This gives a profile of your soil’s composition, detailing concentrations of phosphorus and nitrogen, for example.
This can be vital for deciding whether or not you need to introduce fertilizers or other plant growth supplements.
Very rarely does one property contain the same type of soil, and in even amounts. Soil reports can specify the different types of soil on a given property, and where these are distributed.
This can be necessary for home builders unsure about where they should actually build a structure on their land.
Where to Get a Soil Report
You’ve decided it’s time to obtain a soil survey. Where do you get one?
As we already discussed, only licensed geotechnical or civil engineers can conduct a soil survey. Before you start searching for local engineers, however, we encourage all homebuilders to check in with their local building department.
Doing so can help you determine whether or not you need a soil report. In plenty of areas, soil surveys are mandatory. In other locations, you may have to take additional steps after obtaining a soil report prior to construction approval.
It may also be helpful to work with a land surveyor prior to getting your soil report. Surveyors can give you accurate information about your property’s boundaries. This can be vital for planning and permitting purposes.
Once you know which protocol to follow, it’s time to find an engineer to perform your soil survey.
We recommend gathering a few proposals from different engineers and comparing these. You can find local professional engineers through referrals, often from real estate agents or land surveyors. Or you can use a platform like PE4H to easily connect with local professionals online!
Compare quotes based off of fees, expertise, availability. Don’t just choose the lowest price–“cheapest” may not mean the same thing as “qualified” here.
When you do decide on an engineer, read through any contract terms clearly. Remember that your contractual relationship with an engineer is separate from any relationship you may have with your planning office or architect.
Whether you’re building a new home or thinking about starting a farm, you’ll likely need to get a soil report. Soil reports give scientific insight into soil strength and makeup.
They can also analyze groundwater levels, especially in floodplain areas.
This information can be essential for designing solid foundations. It can also be helpful for anticipating and planning crop cycles.
You may even be required to get a soil report before you can start a farm or build your first home! Licensed geotechnical or civil engineers can perform soil surveys.
Here at PE4H, we make it easy for home builders and farmers alike to connect with local engineers. With our platform, all you need to do is post your project and you’ll receive five quotes from professionals in no time at all.
Are you ready to enlist an engineer for some soil help? We’ve got you covered! Get started now.