LAND ASSESSMENTS: What’s The Dirt On Subsurface Conditions? By Ariel Valli

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    Subsurface conditions generally refers to the ground lying underneath a building. One of the great variables in construction costs for a building is largely dependent on the quality of soil that will be accommodating the building’s foundation system. The better the soil, the more cost effective the foundation system becomes. Poor soil quality can lead to very expensive foundation systems that may actually push construction costs to the point where a project no longer becomes financially feasible. Given the pricing pressures that self- storage projects are facing in today’s volatile construction environment, more care than ever must be given to assessing subsurface conditions carefully. Architects and engineers must be very thorough in their work to assure projects are designed and built in the most cost-effective manner possible. Equally impor- tant is the need for the finished project to per- form well after construction is completed. The science of geotechnical engineering concerns the study of soils. One of the pri- mary purposes of this field is the design of foundation systems that support buildings. The geotechnical engineer will typically drill deep holes into the soil at various places on a site. These exploratory holes are called “borings,” and the information obtained from these borings will describe the nature of the soil and the location of groundwater, if any is present. From this data, the geotechnical engineer will provide recommendations for the design of a foundation system for the type of project contemplated on the site. The struc- tural engineer will then use this information to design the actual foundation system that will accommodate the weight of the building, in conformance to the allowances of the soil. The architect will then work closely with the structural engineer to assure the foundation system is coordinated with the rest of the structure above. In a best-case scenario, the design team will encounter good soil that is relatively porous and therefore drains well. The following items further describe the desirable elements of good soil, as well as the undesirable elements of poor soil. Click Here to Read More…
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