Reading and Understanding Soil Reports

March 30, 2012 — 1,263 views  

Though there are a few exceptions, most building permits are not issued before the satisfactory completion of soil reports. These documents are prepared by licensed civil engineers, and essentially describe how local soil will affect the construction of a structure. This can include information on groundwater levels, sloping zones and underlying earth conditions. Supervising engineers then use the data provided by these experts to choose which type of foundation to use. If you are the manager of a building project, you need to know how to read and understand soil reports.

Experts test soil in many different ways. Engineers can dig up core samples, use density rods to find bedrock and employ seismographs to detect fault lines and other geological activity. The raw data from this equipment will be printed in the final document, but a good soil report will also feature a summary in layman's terms.

As many employees will not be instructed the necessary science to make construction decisions, it is a good idea to hire a Federal Emergency Management Agency-certified consultant to help break down the resulting soil report. This way, the right foundation can be chosen without risk.