Patricia's Construction and Contracting Blog: Tips for Novices to Experts

Is Pre-Construction Soil Testing A "Need" or A "Want"?

by غزل موسوی

Building a home is often considered the most important investment for a large number of people. There are a number of pre-construction activities that prospective homeowners are required to pay for before the foundation for their home-to-be is laid.

Examples of these activities include getting the necessary approvals for the construction project, having the soil on-site tested and having the property boundaries surveyed. Discussed in this article are two reasons why soil testing is more of a need (mandatory) than a want (optional) for a prospective new homeowner


Prospective new homeowners should regard soil testing as an investment rather than an expense prior to the commencement of the construction exercise.

A comprehensive soil test will seek to establish the shear strength of the soil as well as its weight-bearing capacity. Shear strength is a measure of the quantity of structural stress and/or strain that can be comfortably sustained by the soil. Weight-bearing capacity is a measure of the maximum weight (of a structure) that the soil can support without giving in.

Establishing the shear strength and the weight-bearing capacity of soil is important for prospective homeowners who wish to avoid foundation problems in the near future. A common example of the foundation problems referred to include the foundation drifting/shifting from its normal position. In a large number of cases, the cost of correcting foundation-related problems after construction is higher than that of hiring a soil testing specialist pre-construction.


If the long-term cost-effectiveness of a soil test does not convince a prospective homeowner to pay for this service, the safety of the homeowner's family members and that of others who will have regular access to the new home should.

A foundation that will maintain its original position is definitely safer than one that will drift or shift. However, the importance of soil testing in relation to the safety of a residential building can also be seen from a different angle.

Soil contamination is a common problem in the residential set-up. Common examples of soil contaminants in the residential set-up include asbestos and lead. Regular exposure of construction workers to these elements poses a significant risk to the health and overall well-being during the building exercise. A prospective homeowner may find him or herself paying medical bills for construction workers whose health is adversely affected by the mentioned contaminants while in the line of duty.

Identification of soil contaminants through a pre-construction soil test allows prospective homeowners to plan for de-contamination of the soil before moving into the new home with their families. For more information, contact a local soil testing company.