Small things that get forgotton - Building a Home Forum - Garden

cme109ncOctober 22, 2012

We live in an area of heavy red clay. This has caused us to have 2 serious problems we could have avoided if we'd realized ahead of time. First, a filled up septic tank and drain field. Clay doesn't allow the rapid drainage necessary and over the years the field reached its capacity. The needed fix has evidently now become a standard procedure for a new build. That is to have TWO drainfields and the system set up so that you can easily switch back and forth every 6 months or whatever is best for your own situation. After the fact, this project is costly and aggravating as our system is on quite a narrow slope, challenging for heavy equipment to navigate and not damage what's already in place. We're still sorting all of this out. The other problem was a sinking corner under the footings. It was explained to us that clay soil is so dense that it doesn't necessarily pack down over time and air pockets can be present even 20 or more feet down. If the climate shifts enough to experience a long drought (which it did) or an ususually wet spell (which it did), this can cause the air pocket(s) to finally make itself known. We had to have a foundation jack system installed to return the foundation to level at that corner. The rest of the foundation is still unprotected. We were told that this type of system can be put in place for the entire house before it is built and it would be cheaper in the long run because it's much easier for a crew to do without a whole house in the way! If there's a next build for us, these are 2 issues I'd want to be sure to address when deciding on the property.

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Good post. Thanks for sharing.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 11:01PM
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Your experience is a strong recommendation to retain a soils engineer for testing and recommendations for foundations, drainage and septic systems.

Did you not know you were building in unusual soil conditions?

It really is important to work with building professionals who know what is required based on existing site conditions.

Thanks for sharing your experience and hopefully it will encourage folks understand the importance of analysis and design before building.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 11:29PM
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