Last week we shared with you information on soil movement beneath a home’s foundation as the leading cause of structural damages.
This week we continue this topic and discuss consolidation of settlement or native fill soils as the second main cause of structural claims.
Fill material needs to be compacted properly to support a home’s foundation in the same way that natural soils typically do. Fill material is generally made up of a composite of soils specified by the geotechnical engineer. If not properly compacted, the weight of the home will compact the material and cause settlement. Failure to follow geotechnical recommendations or improper supervision during fill-soil placement can result in settlement damage. Native soils can be problematic, as well, if footings are underlain by a layer of soft materials at a depth not visible at excavation. Hydro-collapsible soils may also result in settlement, and hydrostatic pressure may base lateral foundation wall damage.
A thorough understanding of the soils on the site is the best way to avoid encountering foundation problems from active soils and fill materials. A geotechnical investigation is one quantitative way for builders to know precisely the types of soil they are dealing with.