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Choosing A Lot
Editor In Chief, United Home Improvement
Investigating a lot is a fundamental and challenging activity
in the organization and execution of construction projects. It is a
step-by-step process that includes soil testing, identifying
environmental concerns, and how utilities will run within the home.
Each step will be carefully investigated and eventually will go
through a process of approval, and finally put into action. It is
important to select your lot wisely because site conditions affect
your design and the cost to build it.
Soil testing is an important tool in identifying and developing
efficient soil for a construction site. A soil test provides basic
information on the composition of the soil and its ability to
support a structure; as well as the absorption and drainage rate of
the soil. The absorption rate will give homeowners an idea on how
well the soil will accommodate septic and water. The type of soil on
your site will determine the drainage rate. Keep in mind: sands and
gravel drain better than clays and silts.
Another important step includes identifying the water table. The
water table includes the surface separating the upper layer of
non-saturated soil and the lower layer of saturated soil. Engineers
and site planners will identify the water table by testing the color
or "mottling" of soil in the pit. It is important to identify the
water table in order to know where foundation footings and basement
slabs should sit.
If your house needs a septic system, a soil test that includes the
absorption and drainage ratings, will determine where the septic
system and well will be placed. For this reason, soil tests are
performed before a site is purchased. One specific test, referred to
as a “perc test” is performed to identify the absorption rate. A
“perc test” is a method of determining the ability of the soil of a
property to absorb liquids.
Overall, it's a good idea to have all the site information before
you build. Some of this information can be gathered on your own and
some of it may need to be obtained by a civil or geotechnical
engineer. Other suggestions include asking neighbors for information
on your sites ledge, water table and soil status. You may also be
able to find useful information from a local soil map.