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Kathryn Carlson's Blog

By Kathryn Carlson | Broker in 80209

Knowing Your Soil: The Foundation of a Great Home


by Realty Times Staff

Anyone who has ever bought or built a home knows the importance of choosing materials that not only look great but that also work with the climate and other conditions of the location. After all, you wouldn't live in a tent in the freezing Antarctic any more than you would an igloo in the sweltering desert. The same holds true with foundations. The proper type depends on where you live.

Different regions of the country have different types of soil:

Sandy soil does not absorb water. It is known for being a stable soil, but is also uncommon.

Loamy soils are also stable and do not typically respond to changes in moisture. However, they are prone to erosion problems.

Soil with a higher clay content, also known as expansive soil, can absorb water more easily than other types of soil, causing it to expand and contract.

Several areas throughout the country, such as Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Texas, have expansive soil.

Building A Home

Because different types of soil require different types of foundations, it is important to know the type of soil you are working with if you are building a home.

Are you looking to live in an a desirable north Texas community like Southlake, Frisco, Las Colinas, Carrolton, Cedar Hill, or Grand Prairie? What these areas have in common, other than being among the most in-demand places to live in DFW, is expansive soil.

Special techniques like pier and beam and soil injections can be used to treat soil and build strong foundations to offset the shrink-swell properties of the soil. A qualified professional skilled in soil engineering will know the best methods for working with your type of soil.

Resale Homes

If you are buying a resale home, start with the soil maps on the United States Department of Agriculture website to figure out the type of soil under your home. You will definitely also want to pay extra consideration to your home inspection in case there are any telltale signs of foundation issues, like cracks in walls, floors, or ceilings.

Unfortunately, it may not be possible to determine if the soil was treated properly and the best foundation built for a resale home until you have already discovered cracks. Since you may never know how the existing home was engineered and built, the safest bet may be to have your new home built, so you know that it was done correctly.

After Purchase

Just as important as working with a qualified company to construct the right type of foundation for your home is knowing how to properly treat it once it is built. The combination of Texas soil and weather conditions means the proper irrigation and drainage design is critical. Your slab needs to stay moist without water accumulation. Drip irrigation is an often-recommended tool, but other tips for ongoing care will help keep your foundation sound.

Published: June 27, 2013

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