Soil testing is a crucial step in construction. It entails taking samples of the soil on a project site and analysing its composition in a lab. The test checks for density, physical structure, moisture content, and shrinkage among other factors. Soil testing can unearth various issues that would affect the stability and safety of the building. Below are some important insights you can gain from conducting a soil test before constructing a residential building.
Suitability of the site for construction
Not all soils are suitable for construction. For example, soils that have poor drainage are problematic for shallow foundations. In the future, they can cause foundation damage due to high moisture content around the structure. Similarly, unstable and poorly compacted soils cannot form a sturdy base for a structure. Soil samples of different areas around the site can unearth the soil's properties and weaknesses.
The soil on one portion of the property may have different properties compared to soil on another portion. Conducting a test allows you to determine the suitability of the site for construction. If the soil isn't suitable for the type of structure you want to put up, consult an expert before risking your investment.
Soil impact on structure design
Soils have varying properties that can inform your building's design. For example, if you have poorly drained or poorly compacted soil, you should attempt to lay a shallow foundation. The foundation may settle or suffer water damage, forcing you to undertake expensive repairs. In this case, a deep foundation would be most suited for your structure. The foundation piers or beams go deep into the ground and secure the house, even when the subsoil isn't stable enough to hold the building.
If you're deciding between building a single-storey and multi-storey structure, a soil test can reveal various issues that could inform your decision. For example, soils that are prone to liquefaction can pose a significant risk during an earthquake. If you build a multi-story home on such soils, you may experience foundation issues. Thus, discuss the findings with your architect to determine how the test results may affect your preferred design.
Suitability of preferred construction materials
Soil testing can help determine the best building materials, mainly for the foundation. Foundation design and materials primarily depend on the soil's structure and properties. Stable topsoil and subsoil can perfectly hold a shallow foundation for years. Examples of suitable foundations are slab-to-grade, mat-slab and spread footing.
If the soil has poor drainage or unstable subsoil, opt for deep foundations such as pile, pier and caisson foundations. The materials required for both options are different; thus, examine the preferred ones to determine whether they are suitable for the structure.
Soil testing reveals various soil properties that are useful when designing a building and choosing the best materials. Consult a construction contractor before embarking on your project.