What is Geotechnical Engineering

Geotechnical engineer testing soil on construction site

Geotechnical engineering, also known as geotechnics, soil testing, or soil analysis, is the evaluation of the earth’s components before starting a construction project. Most examinations include surface and subsurface exploration, soil sampling, and laboratory analysis.

Significance with large construction projects

The characteristics and quality of your soil play a vital role in how a building is constructed. It’s best to have a professional analyze the soil before any construction begins to determine if it’s suitable for your project. They will test the soil for strength, organic material, contamination, and density, among other things in order to:

  •      Identify types of soil on the property
  •      Identify whether the soil can support your desired construction project
  •      Create safety reports, which are often needed to obtain a building permit

All the information gathered by the engineer is then used to determine important factors about your construction or multifamily project. For example, if the results show sandy soil, you will likely need a different type of foundation than if you were building directly on bedrock.

Soil testing can help determine drainage issues, the placement of your septic or sewer system components, the size of the structure, and whether the soil or bedrock would support a structure in an earthquake. These investigations are important in preventing human and material damages.

When is goetech testing needed in the construction process?

Soil testing is typically required for building permits. During the construction phase, the soil engineer may need to take further soil samples to ensure the soil conditions are compatible with those observed in the initial testing – and will make recommendations as needed.

What do you do if your soil isn’t right for your construction project?

If your soil has any issues your geotechnical engineer should be able to provide you with recommendations on how to address the problem. The solution could be installing wider, deeper footings, or digging out the bad soil and replacing it with engineered soil. No matter what they recommend, you’ll want to get it in writing and share with your structural engineer and building inspector.

Pricing and how to structure construction loan terms to get this included

There are many factors that play a role in the cost of your soil test, such as the type of testing you perform and size and site of the proposed project.  The more comprehensive the analysis, the more expensive the testing will be. Talk to your lender about your options. If there is room, some lenders will incorporate the testing into your loan – allowing you to pay it off through the course of the loan.

Geotechnical engineering can be crucial to the integrity of your construction project. Make sure you have the time and budget put aside to get it done right.

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