New Homes and Swelling Soils in Colorado
Swelling soils are soils that contain clay and expand when they absorb water. This can cause foundations and other structures built on top of the soil to shift or settle, leading to damage.
In Colorado, home builders are required to provide Publication 73 “A Guide to Swelling Soils for Homebuyers and Homeowners in Colorado”.
The guide provides information about the types of soils that are prone to swelling in Colorado and the areas of the state where these soils are most commonly found. It also includes tips for identifying swelling soils and mitigating the potential impacts on foundations and other structures.
The guide recommends that homeowners and builders in areas with swelling soils take steps to address the issue, such as by testing the soil before building, using foundation designs that are resistant to swelling, and maintaining proper drainage around the foundation. It also advises homeowners to watch for signs of foundation problems, such as cracks in walls or doors and windows that are difficult to open or close, and to seek professional help if these issues arise.
Overall, “A Guide To Swelling Soils in Colorado” is a useful resource for homeowners and builders in the state who are concerned about the potential impacts of swelling soils on their properties. It provides valuable information and tips for mitigating these impacts and protecting against foundation damage.
A soils report for new home construction is a document that provides information about the soil conditions at a construction site. The report is typically prepared by a soil engineer or geotechnical engineer and includes information about the type and characteristics of the soil, as well as any potential issues that may impact the construction of a new home.
The purpose of a soils report is to help builders and homeowners understand the soil conditions at the construction site and to identify any potential issues that may need to be addressed before construction begins. Some common issues that might be identified in a soils report include:
Swelling soils: Soils that contain clay and expand when they absorb water can cause foundations and other structures to shift or settle, leading to damage.
Poor soil stability: Soils that are prone to erosion or landslides can create stability issues for foundations and other structures.
High water table: A high water table can impact the ability to install a proper foundation and may require the use of special construction techniques.
Contaminants: Soils may be contaminated with chemicals or other materials that can impact the safety and durability of a home.
A soils report can help builders and homeowners understand the soil conditions at the construction site and identify any potential issues that may need to be addressed before construction begins. It can also help builders design and construct foundations and other structures that are appropriate for the soil conditions at the site.
It’s important to note that a soils report is just one part of the due diligence process when building a new home. It’s a good idea to review the report carefully and to consult with a soil engineer or geotechnical engineer if you have any questions or concerns.
After a home begins construction, an open hole inspection report is completed by the foundation engineer to confirm the soils conditions and proposed foundation design from any early soils testing.
The purpose of an open hole observation/excavation report is to provide detailed information about the soil conditions at the construction site, including the type and characteristics of the soil, the depth and thickness of different soil layers, and any other features or conditions that may impact the construction of a new home.
The report typically includes a description of the excavation process, including the location and dimensions of the excavation, the equipment used, and any special techniques that were employed. It also includes a detailed description of the soil conditions encountered during the excavation, including the type and characteristics of the soil, the depth and thickness of different soil layers, and any other features or conditions that may be of concern.
An open hole observation/excavation report can be an important tool for builders and homeowners during the construction process, as it provides detailed information about the soil conditions at the site and can help identify any potential issues that may need to be addressed before construction begins. It’s a good idea to review the report carefully and to consult with a soil engineer or geotechnical engineer.
When soils are found to be expansive or collapsing, an engineer may recommend different measures to stabilize the soil and make sure that it is load bearing.
The purpose of overexcavation and recompaction is to improve the stability and load-bearing capacity of the soil, which can help ensure that the foundation is properly supported and does not settle or shift over time. This process is commonly used in areas with soil that is prone to settlement or in cases where the soil is not strong enough to support the weight of the foundation.
Overexcavation and recompaction typically involves the following steps:
Excavation: The soil is excavated to a depth that is deeper than the final depth of the foundation.
Compaction: The soil is compacted using special equipment, such as a plate compactor or a roller, to achieve a specific density.
Testing: The soil is tested to ensure that it meets the required density and strength specifications.
Backfill: If the soil meets the required specifications, it is used as backfill around the foundation. If the soil does not meet the required specifications, it may be removed and replaced with soil that is more suitable.
Overexcavation and recompaction can be an important part of the foundation construction process, as it helps ensure that the soil is stable and capable of supporting the weight of the foundation. It’s a good idea to consult with a structural engineer or a home builder to determine whether overexcavation and recompaction is necessary for your foundation.
When soils have an higher swelling potential, engineers may recommend that the home has drilled pier caissons to reinforce foundation footers and in some cases they recommend structural beams for the floor of the home to rest on that floats above the soil giving it room to expand and contract without impacting the home. This is also called a pier and beam foundation. A pier and beam foundation is a type of foundation that consists of concrete or masonry piers that support the weight of the home, with a crawl space or beam system underneath. Pier and beam foundations are commonly used in areas with expansive soils or shallow frost lines.
Due to expansive soil conditions in Colorado most homes are not suitable for slab foundations, however most garage floors have slab foundations with footers. A slab foundation is a type of foundation that consists of a single, thick slab of concrete that is poured directly on the ground. Slab foundations are commonly used in areas with shallow frost lines, and they are a popular choice for homes with basements or crawl spaces.
One other type of foundation design is a stem wall foundation. A stem wall foundation is a type of foundation that consists of a concrete or masonry stem wall that supports the weight of the home, with a crawl space or slab underneath. Stem wall foundations are commonly used in areas with expansive soils or shallow frost lines.
The type of foundation that is best for a particular home will depend on a variety of factors, including the soil conditions at the construction site, the climate, the type of home being built, and the preferences of the homeowner. It’s a good idea to consult with a structural engineer or a home builder to determine the best foundation type for your home.