Excavation and Geotechnical Engineering go together.

When we perform a lot or land feasibility analysis one area of concern is soil conditions. During the feasibility we are trying to determine the costs of items that you can’t see. When we look at a lot or a piece of land I am always suspicious. What you can’t see matters.

Sometimes developers dump unsuitable soil on to the building lot. What I mean by this is when they cut the roads in or dig trenches for utility lines the excess dirt has to go somewhere. Most often a developer will instruct the excavator to put the dirt on top of the native soil of where the building lots will be. This saves the developer money. When they sell the lot, the new lot owner will have to address this issue. You can’t build on unsuitable soil. Most often you have to dig down to solid ground or do other measures that will support the house structure. Prior to closing on a lot, we will try to get some relief from the sales price of the lot to help pay for the mitigation efforts needed to provide a buildable lot.

Another example of when we have run into problems is building on hillsides. When I was a kid, I was trained by an old salt that had his favorite saying “water runs downhill”. It’s a timeless statement. What is easy to see is the surface water. What is difficult is the subsurface water. Underground paths for water sometimes are hard to predict. Those paths can change without notice. We need to build the foundation and drainage systems with this in mind.

When we expect a challenging build job we will call in an expert. I like to have the facts. With good information we can make good decisions.

We like using Columbia West Engineering, Inc. One of the most important attributes I look for is competence and responsiveness. Columbia West is stellar at both.

Please submit questions to jon@quailhomes.com Jon can be reached direct at 360.907.5800. Tune into Green Building with Jon Girod on 1550 a.m. on Saturdays at 9 am. See you next week!