Can Soil Affect A Construction Project?

And What To Do To Avoid Future Issues According to Statistics Canada, the investment in building construction increased to $20.8 billion in June. This is a 0.3% increase from the previous average. The construction industry has always been busy. As things are slowly getting back to normal, projects that have long been set aside are […]

ALBlairConstruction Can Soil Affect A Construction Project

And What To Do To Avoid Future Issues

According to Statistics Canada, the investment in building construction increased to $20.8 billion in June. This is a 0.3% increase from the previous average.

The construction industry has always been busy. As things are slowly getting back to normal, projects that have long been set aside are being picked up again.

If you are one of those who want to build a residential or commercial building, there are a few things to consider. Things such as getting permits, a budget plan, and making timelines are some of them.

But, here is one of the most important steps to starting a construction project: You have to make sure that the soil that you’re building on is right for your foundation.

As you read on, you’ll be able to see what types of soil you’ll see onsite and what you can do about it.


Types of Soil For Your Construction Project

Depending on the area you choose to build, the soil types will differ. Here is a basic description of what you can expect to see and how you can tell each soil type apart:

  • Peat-decomposed organic materials make up this soil.
  • Clay – this has very small particles and can change depending on factors like weather and composition.
  • Gravel/Sand – this soil has the largest particles with a gritty texture
  • Loam – this is part sand and clay and its features can vary depending on its location
  • Rock – these types are always stable and are seen more in steep areas.

Why It’s Important to Know What Type of Soil You’re Building On

A poor foundation can be hazardous to those working on site. Once finished, it would be unstable and weak. This in turn would cause unsafe conditions for those using the building.

Soil can cause more than just a poor foundation. Plumbing, building structure, and even cost will be affected.

By getting your site soil tested before starting the project, you ensure everyone’s safety. You will also avoid any soil problems in construction.

After all, there are standards to building a foundation, and you have to meet them.

Who Does Soil Testing for Construction

Soil engineers or geotechnical engineers can be hired through a company or individually.

On a project, they take samples from the ground to determine the strength and durability of the soil. They can do this before, during, and after the project to ensure that the soil is stable.

Why Is Moisture Content of Soil Important in Construction?

Soil needs to reach the maximum compaction potential.

Too much moisture in the soil will result in it being too muddy. Too little moisture in the soil will make it impossible to compress, as it would be too dusty.

Peat Soil

Peat soil is great for growing plants but is quite difficult to use in construction. It’s usually dark and soft, with low shear strength.

It’s also prone to change and in construction, a change in the soil can cause drawbacks.

It is soft and absorbs a lot of water, causing it to expand. While it is easily compacted, peat soil can harden and dry up during the summer months. This also means that the soil will shrink.

How to Deal With it

Because peat has a low bearing capacity, the pier and beam foundation type will suit it.

Piers are thick wooden beams or concrete blocks that are dug and embedded deep into the ground. Beams are then laid atop these beams to support the building. These can be made from wood, concrete, or steel.

For larger projects, you’ll need large concrete piles to reach deep into the soil. In this case, sand or gravel aggregates are perfect.

This way, you won’t have to worry about how the soil’s shrinking and expanding will affect your building.

Clay Soil

Clay is quite tricky to work with. As mentioned above, the particles are very small. This makes it more prone to erosion, which causes uneven ground.

Other types of clay soil are firmer and easier to work with. However, that is all dependent on the area of your construction site.

How to Deal With it

Building on clay soil isn’t impossible. All you have to do is build a foundation that separates your building from the ground by a few feet. This method is called the pier and beam foundation, which is the same method used for peat soil.

The pier and beam foundation can keep your ground level. This way you won’t have to spend tonnes of money on extra construction materials.

Silt Soil

Silt soil has smaller particles that enable it to retain water longer. However, because of this, the soil has poor drainage and can get cold.

As a result, the soil expands, which puts pressure on the foundation if it goes unchecked. It isn’t generally the ideal soil for a foundation, but there are ways to work around it.

How to Deal With it

Because the nature of silt can also differ, it’s best to get the soil tested first. However, they all have the potential to collapse.

You may need to get construction supplies in the form of other soils to help stabilize the soil.

Gravel/Sand Soil

This type of soil is very stable. It’s also a great soil to use as a high-quality aggregate.

Sand or gravel cannot retain moisture well because of the spaces left between the large particles.

How to Deal With it

To build on gravel or sandy soil, you will need to properly compact it. While the foundation is secure on compact gravel and soil, keep in mind that it can be washed away over time.

To prevent that, you can purchase helical piers to secure your foundation into the ground. They’re also easier to use as you won’t have to dig into the ground. Helical piers can simply thread into the soil.

Loam Soil

Loam soil had the perfect consistency for a foundation. It’s a mixture of sand and silt which creates the ideal moisture for soil compacting.

Due to the nature of this soil, you won’t need to have a long list of construction supplies.

How to Deal With it

Loam soil is perfect for pad or isolated footing foundations. You won’t have to dig far, as this is used for shallow foundations.

Columns and pillars are spread across the ground. You then have the option of a reinforced or non-reinforced footing.

Either way, you’ll need high-quality sand, gravel, or concrete stones as aggregates for the concrete.

Rock Soil

Limestone, shale, bedrock, and other types of rock are great for foundations. As mentioned, they are very stable and great for supporting buildings, due to their high bearing capacity.

How to Deal With it

The process is simple. All you have to do is level the rock as needed for your foundation.

If the rock you find is chalk, keep in mind that there are softer types. You may have to dig deeper to find a more stable chalk material before starting on your foundation.



Different types of soil can make your construction project easier or more difficult. However, by testing your soil, you’ll be more prepared to deal with the issues that come your way.

Additionally, you need high-quality construction supplies to ensure that your foundations and building stay secure. We at A.L. Blair promise only the best with our products and services.

Want to know more? Don’t hesitate to contact us and leave a message!


Jon Blair
Jon Blair is an integral part of the A.L. Blair Construction team, a company that has been setting high standards in the aggregate industry since 1932. With a heritage deeply rooted in Eastern Ontario, Jon is committed to delivering quality and reliability in every project.

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