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Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Subsurface Investigation

Anyone looking to purchase land with the intent to build on it should first confirm the site is suitable for construction. That means ensuring the soils beneath the surface are capable of supporting a structure and free of hazardous materials. In most infill applications like the Starter Home 2.0 site that are surrounded by existing structures, it is usually safe to assume the natural soil composition of the area is suitable for building, and it is the presence of old basements, construction debris, and contaminated soils on site that is the primary concern. This is one of the first things I investigated during the inspection period once I the property was under contract. The following paragraphs describe the steps I took to determine the site was suitable for the Starter Home 2.0 project.

Step 1: Search for records of old structures on site
The first step of my site investigation process was looking through old aerial photographs of the site, searching past property records, and talking to neighbors to determine that there were never any structures built on the lot I was looking to purchase. While the discovery of an old house on the lot would not have necessarily been a deal breaker, it was good know the presence of old foundations, pipes, and construction debris was unlikely.
Step 2: Conduct a subsurface investigation of the site
The second step of my site investigation process was hiring a local geotechnical engineering firm to dig test pits around the site, observe the soil composition, and complete a written report recommending a foundation system best suited for the site. The conclusion based on the test pits was that the lot was clear of debris and bad soils, and was suitable for a standard basement with spread footings, which was more good news and ultimately helped lead to me closing on the property.