I’m in the process of closing on a lot that we intend to build our dream home on. What can we do before construction to make sure we don’t have a sinkhole problem?
I speak personally to this issue. I signed a contract for a new home to be built. We asked to conduct testing on the lot before we closed, and were denied this right until we closed on the lot, but before we began the actual construction. Two weeks later, after to Standard Penetration Tests, we found patent evidence of sinkhole activity. We worked it out with the contractor, who permitted us to cancel the agreement with them.
Conducting sinkhole investigations is costly, but it may be more costly not to. Consider this: Doing two standard penetration tests cost us $3,000, but that money was well spent because it saved us a great deal of money in the long run. If you are interested in conducting a sinkhole investigation, you need to have the testing done prior to the pouring of the foundation. The important thing would be to look at the footprint of the house and test in that area. If you provide the engineering firm the building plans, they will be able to recommend the testing locations.
Also, do your own sinkhole investigation of your adjacent property owners. Ask them if they have had any problems with settlement or if they have ever filed insurance claims. While this may be a bit forward on your part, people will often share their experiences, especially because it will often include complaints about problems with insurance companies.
Lastly, you will want your engineering firm to also conduct some shallow soil work, in the form of hand augers to a depth of about eight feet. This is because you will want to determine if you have any other, soil-related problems, as well as sinkholes. Problems with excessive organic material, expansive clay, or poorly consolidated sand can also cause significant problems for you.
As always, if you have any problems locating an appropriate engineering firm, we can offer you several options. Good luck.
Read our tips on filing a sinkhole claim.
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