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It is horrifying to see cracks develop in your home after a few years, to see the structure slowly deteriorate, get a rundown look, and worse still to see the structure tilt or collapse!  The preventive solution lies in an uncompromising pre-construction rigour that helps alleviate all the threatening and negative possibilities. One such critical activity that a builder must undertake is a thorough Soil testing, and take construction decisions based on the wisdom of soil testing results.

We often witness some properties wearing a run-down look, within a decade or two, and this is attributable to sheer neglect of critical activities like soil testing at a pre-construction stage. A building built upon neglect of soil-testing rigour may end up making the property a liability rather than an asset. As a new home buyer, we don’t want our investment turning into a white elephant, with no takers for a property in resale market.  

Blind trust in builders proves costly

The bigger question for a home-buyer is- do you know about Soil testing? If yes, then has your builder taken the right measures to use it, and chosen the right course of action? 

Sadly, not many home buyers are aware of the importance of soil testing, and how it can impact the very fabric of a building to last without structural flaws over a century. 

New home buyers must be equipped with the right knowledge, especially, about the importance and relevance of soil testing, and how it is critical to keeping your family safe across generations. More than the builder, a new home buyer needs to trust ones’ own knowledge, and NOT be gullible to buying a property without being sure of what went into the making of a your apartment within the residential building.

Understanding Soil testing

Soil testing helps understand the characteristic of the soil before initiating construction. Design related decisions are governed by soil testing results, especially to find out the ‘load bearing capacity’ of the soil on which a building is proposed. This in turn determines the ‘load sustaining’ capability of a particular soil. In simple words, it answers the question: will the residential plot be able to take the weight of the building being taken? What should go into making the foundation of a structure on a particular type of land?  

Foundation matters! 

Foundation is the most critical aspect of a structure since it is the foundation that keeps-up with the weight of the structure, and passes on to the ground. The soil test in turn gives the Structural Engineers the much needed direction on- the type of design, the extent of stability, and the measure of sustainability that a foundation needs to provide over a long period of time. 

Soils testing also gives critical insights into the ‘rate of settlement’ of the structure. It indicates the rate at which the structure kept on the soil is likely to settle. Hence, soil testing has a huge impact on the foundation of a building.

Understanding ‘cause & effect’

The stability of the structure depends on the decisions taken based on thorough soil testing. Builders who ignore soil testing or take a casual approach, end up making an inhumane blunder that can cost human lives, leave alone the building getting damaged at some point.

The length and breadth of the pillar columns while laying the ‘foundation of a structure’ depends not just on the number of floors a builder makes, but most importantly on the ‘bearing capacity’ of the soil. The soil testing also reveals the ‘water content’ in the soil, which in turn helps in determining the ‘moisture levels’. It’s a known fact that moisture leads to corrosion. So, a decision taken to build a structure without knowing the extent of corrosion happening in the TMT steel bars inside the foundation can result in extremely perilous and unpredictable catastrophes. For instance, incase of high moisture led corrosion, the builder needs to deploy corrosion resistant steel bars.  

Decisions Engineers make with Soil testing

  • With Soil testing, Structural Engineers can decide whether or not the soil is even suitable for construction
  • Sometimes, within a site, there could be different types of soils existing, so the decisions pertaining to one building can be totally different from another one right adjacent 
  • It also gives insights into construction and foundation decision-criteria like strength, density, compaction, contamination, extent of sand in the residential project plot
  • The permissions from civic bodies look at these reports prior to granting permissions
  • However, the over-arching insight is to get precise results to take precision-based results to protect the building over a century, and to protect safety of the inhabitants

Soil testing actually entails a very detailed list of activities including:

  • Moisture content
  • Specific gravity test
  • Dry density test
  • Attenberg Limits test
  • Compaction test’ (Proctors test)

Conclusion

A defective foundation and a lack of commitment to pre-construction rigour can lead to loss of lives! Soil testing saves lives, helps avoid legal cost of accidents owing to negligence by builders, including avoiding heavy, untimely, unpleasant repairs!

As a home buyer, one needs to be aware of such potential areas in construction, where a slip-up may prove to be unimaginably dreadful. Being equipped with the right inputs and knowledge helps the home buyer ask the right questions before acquiring a residential property. Understanding the depth to which the builder has taken pains to conduct soil testing makes you take a safe and sound decision as a home buyer. The most important clarification a home buyer must seek is: whether or not the soil report translated into foundation and construction related decisions! The builder should be able to explain, answer and demonstrate (with evidence) that concerted steps have been taken for the safety of the inhabitants. Stay knowledgeable, stay safe!

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