Arlo, Home Buyer in Fredericksburg, VA

Shrink and swell soil is a problem we've been warned about, particularly in Artillery Ridge -- where we're

Asked by Arlo, Fredericksburg, VA Sun Jun 1, 2008

about to put in an offer on a home (it's on a hilly section). Can anyone advise on a) how to verify type of soil at the home (as in USGS? hire soil expert?), and b) if there is shrink and swell soil, can I remediate that either by engineering or by excavating and filling? Thanks. Arlo

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I run our shrink swell soils department, we're a local small business that has been open since 07'. We are experienced with the requirements for shrink swell policies and remediation in the City of Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania County, Stafford County, Culpeper County, Fairfax County, Prince William County and Fauquier County. Feel free to contact me at Dominion Engineering Associates, Inc. in Spotsylvania at 540-710-9339. My name is Richard Paige
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 4, 2015
I am on the Engineering staff at a local Geotechnical Firm. I am in charge of creating Shrink-swell reports for Spotsylvania, Stafford, and some of the surrounding counties. If you are looking to purchase an existing home with shrink swell soils there isn't much you can do without spending a lot of extra money. As long as the footings are approximately 4 feet below the exterior grade (top of soils) the moisture shouldn't change enough to be problematic. If you have any questions or need soils testing recommendations or structural inspection we can provide them. We're a small local business that has been open in Fredericksburg since 2007. Dominion Engineering Associates, Inc. 540-710-9339
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 26, 2014
Definately go to the authority! Speak with the County and City officials in the Health Department and Zoning and Building Compliance Departments. They can continue to guide you to an expert on the particular subject of interest. If there is a problem I am sure the County will be aware. In addition, the Yellow Pages has approximately a dozen listings under soil scientist. Call and ask if they have worked in your area of interest. I will bet you will find a great deal of information through your initial contacts and that will better serve your final decision process in hiring a professional, if need be, when you purchase! And as an after thought, I do agree with speaking to neighbors as a good start, but make sure you rely on a professional for the final say. You don't want to miss a great opportunity if there is a simple explanation or a standard practice that will correct the situation.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 5, 2008
The first order of business would be to have a soil/footing/foundation inspection contingency along wth a whole house inspection contingency within your purchase offer submission. The local building inspection department could probably recommend a soil scientist for the inspection process.

Depending on the age of the house, soil test may have been required prior to the issuance of a building permit. Additionally, most building codes were changed to accomodate the potential of shrink/ swell soil and required a more substantial footing design including reinforcing bar placed in all footings.

If this is not the case, remediation can be done by re-engineering the footing/foundation, but can be quite expensive.

Seek proper inspections by a licensed professional to alliviate your concerns.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jun 1, 2008
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