Our clients always ask if soil sampling and/or soil testing is appropriate when in due diligence period. Soil sampling and/or testing normally takes about 3-4 weeks of time from authorization to when report is submitted. Additionally, the fee for this service is normally in the $1,000s, depending on the depth and number of exploratory borings and also depending on the nature (purpose) of sampling.
We normally start our assessment with a visual observation that includes a review of soil maps that are readily available. We also take precise measurements during a site observation visit to identify if a measurable amount of movement has occurred. This is normally referred to “site reconnaissance” that can be turned around in days and is more affordable. It provides us with basic data to assess the subsurface conditions without soil sampling and without soil testing.
We can also perform research to locate and review the original soil reports and/or the original grading plans from the City Hall’s records department. A wealth of information is already available that can be reviewed and critiqued, if necessary.
When is a crack wide enough for concern? It is not so much the width of a crack that describes the severity of foundation movement as is the floor level variation. I have seen many buildings that have crack free foundations, but are tilted by several inches. This can occur when the floor slabs and foundations are heavily reinforced (or when post-tension foundations are used). This foundation is obviously under distress due to settlement or expansion even though there are no cracks.
On the other hand, I have seen buildings with foundations that are relatively level (within 3/4″), but have a number of cracks, large and small. Cracks can also occur with inadequate construction workmanship that has nothing to do with soil movement under the foundation.
Water intrusion through subsurface soil is a common issue with residential buildings, particularly those that are constructed below the grade level. Practicing common sense during original construction normally alleviates this issue. We exercise common sense during our assessments to identify if potential for moisture intrusion exists. Relationship between exterior grades and interior floors are normally well defined and are protected against moisture intrusion in good common sense construction. However, common sense is not always practiced and faulty construction leads to moisture intrusion when these barriers are not protected.
We normally identify these barriers during site observation visits and test them against adequate protection. The scope of our work normally varies with the complexity of the intrusion and/or complexity of barriers. More often than not we find the basic issues through visual site observations, and at times we request subsurface testing to collect more date and/or to confirm our assumptions.
Welcome! I am Massood Gaskari, President of Private Eyes Engineers (PEE) and the Civil Engineering Design Group (CDG). Welcome to our blog.
We invite and encourage you to return to participate and network with other professionals and prospective clients. In short, the blog is intended to be informative and effective for us all. We think the best way to do that to start is to ask for your help!
I plan to write articles on relevant issues in the industry on this page. We will also have articles on Special Topics, upcoming Events, and offer FAQs or Frequently Asked Questions. Having begun PEE in 1986 and CDG in 2005, I have more than 25 years in the industry. Some of you have attended my presentations at CREIA chapters around greater San Diego, Orange County, and the Las Vegas Inspection Conference or other events. There are many topics on which I want to share my opinion and get your take. I encourage you to let me know where you’d like to start first:
- What relevant issue would you like to see my first article address?
- What questions are always omitted that you’d like to see in the FAQ’s?
- What Special Topic (or problem) would you like to explore?
We look forward to hearing from and responding to you!