Consideration 1: Soil Bearing Capacity

If you’re planning to build an entire home, you might just want to talk to a geotechnical engineer to get a better idea of what’s going on in the soil near the area you’re planning to build.

The first thing you need to pay attention to is the bearing capacity of the soil underneath the home. This directly impacts your design specifics and more about the structure you’re designing and attempting to build.

However, some people may not understand a lot about construction or what this means. Here’s how to pay attention to the soil bearing capacity. 

  • Shear Failure

The concept of “shear failure” is integral to the soil’s bearing capacity. That’s because the bearing capacity defines the maximum average contact pressure between the soil and the foundation that’s unlikely to result in shear failure.

When the foundation causes too much shearing stress in the soil, it compromises the strength of the soil and its ability to support a structure. If you don’t pay attention to the shearing stress you’re causing, you risk running into shear failure.

The best way to avoid shear failure is to pay attention to the soil bearing capacity of the particular soil you’re dealing with. That way, you’ll expand the structure’s stability and lifespan. 

  • Soil Classes

An important part of soil bearing capacity has to do with the soil class underneath a home. That’s because different soil classes will have different amounts of load-bearing pressure. It’s important that you take that into account when you’re choosing how to design a structure.

What soils do you need to be more careful with, and which ones can hold more weight? The International Building Code provides a list of soil bearing strengths you can rely on for general ideas regarding load-bearing pressure. 

Class of MaterialsLoad-Bearing Pressure (Pounds per square foot)
Crystalline Bedrock12,000
Sedimentary Rock6,000
Sandy Gravel, Gravel3,000
Sand, Silty-Sand, Clay-Sand, Silty-Gravel, Clay-Gravel3,000
Clay, Sandy Clay, Silty-Clay, Clay-Silt2,000
  • Using a Penetrometer

If you’re looking for an easy way to determine the soil bearing capacity of a certain area more accurately, you may want to consider a penetrometer. This is a hand-held tool, making it convenient to use anywhere, and it helps you measure the pressure the soil can resist.

It’s important to remember that a penetrometer can generally give you an idea of the soil-bearing capacity. However, it’s not necessarily as accurate as a more professional but less portable tool. It’s not 100% foolproof.

You can learn a lot by consulting with a geotechnical engineer regarding this information. If you’re planning to build an entire home, you might just want to talk to a geotechnical engineer to get a better idea of what’s going on in the soil near the area you’re planning to build.

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