Soil test

BethanysmomApril 8, 2014

Hi. Just curious what kind(s) of soil test those of you who are building had to have done prior to building and what those tests cost.

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By the way, we are building a pier and beam house, if that makes a difference.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 12:15PM
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It will depend on the area of the country, and the local zoning regulations.

Ask your architect and the engineer who is doing the load calculations

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 1:08PM
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The company that I hired for a soil test drilled several holes 25ft deep and analyzed core samples for composition, moisture, physical properties etc.

This was used by the structural engineer to design the foundation.

I paid ~$1200 I think (not 100% sure). This was in 2007.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 1:20PM
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The main purpose of the soil test is to determine what your soil composition is and then, what type of foundation you need.

I believe, the primary thing they determine with respect to foundation design is the plasticity of the soil. That number is a key factor in determining what type of foundation is acceptable.

Our soil test ran $650. it included two borings to 20 feet as well as a detailed report.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 1:22PM
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Thank you for your replies. The engineer who is working with our draftsman said we needed to have one done so that they can calculate how far the footings need to go. I have called the company who does them and am waiting for a call back.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 2:37PM
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Will you have a septic system? If so, you will also have to do a perculation test to determine the absorption capabilities of your soil, as the basis for the selection of a proper septic system.

If you are planning a ground source heat pump(s), you may also have to test for the type of used water distribution.

Good luck with your project.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 4:21PM
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I build only infill homes where one, two or even three homes have been built before, so I take my chances. I bring in a soils engineer sometimes when the excavation is complete.

One that threw me a bit was when we excavated down to an ancient lakefront--all sand and waterwashed rocks. Turns out that was the best base for a new home--wonderful drainage. Just needed wider footings. I'd expect to pay $300+ for an inspection and verbal opinion. If you're in the country, the fees may be steeper due to travel time and the scarcity of competition.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 8:23PM
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@Virgilcarter - yes, we are doing a septic system.

@Worthy - we are definitely out in the country.

Finding someone to even do the test has proven to be a challenge. The company I was first referred to doesn't have anyone here locally (I'm about 20 minutes from a town with a population of over 120,000) to do it, so they've referred me to their other office a couple of hours away. But that guy has yet to return the message I left him this morning.

I did have our local NRCS guys come out a couple of months ago to look at a creek on the property because I wanted to make sure we don't do something in the driveway work to mess it up (will be putting in a culvert)...I asked them about them doing a perc test, but they don't do them.

Thank you both very much for your replies.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 1:06AM
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My engineer told me to dig a hole once the ground thawed and let him know what I saw down there :P I ended up taking it to a local lab (bc I saw dirt), and they analyzed it for soil content and particle size. Ended up as Sandy Loam (equal parts clay, silt, sand) and I was able to use this analysis for my septic application as well. Think it cost me $125, but I own a backhoe so I was able to dig my own hole (guess I could have used a shovel, but I loath digging). Granted, the bottom of my hole was bedrock, so we were pretty certain it could support a house...

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 9:13AM
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@Awnmyown - does your Cooperative Extension Service not do free soil testing?

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 11:10AM
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