Dealing with Expansive Soil…


It’s the big boogie monster that scares every builder in Northern Colorado… no it’s not a building inspector.  It’s the lurking monster hanging out underground – clay.  Why is it so scary to builders?  Put simply, it’s unpredictable, and for a builder that works off of fixed budgets that are determined months in advance, unpredictable variables can create scary situations.  Expansive soil, or soil containing clay, can vary drastically in its effect on a home.  For example, if it is relatively shallow under the surface, you may dig right through it and find great structural soil underneath it.  In this case, there would be no expansion effect on the foundation and therefore nothing would need to be done to deal with the expansive soil.  On the other hand, if the expansive clay soil is directly at the elevation of the bearing points of the foundation, it could cost three or four times more than the cost of a normal foundation to build a sound structure on that soil.  Of course, there are several levels of severity in between those two situations.  Add to that that the only sure fire way to accurately know the soil conditions under a home is to conduct location specific soil boring testings done by licensed soil engineers, and it’s no wonder that all experienced Colorado builders have a common phobia.

That said, everything has a solution, and nothing is impossible to deal with.  Having an experienced builder in Colorado is vitally important when it comes to dealing with these soil conditions, both for finding the most cost effective and efficient solution, and making sure it is executed correctly.