Sometimes Bigger Is Better (For Home Improvement Projects)

With the ever-increasing value of land in metropolitan areas, property owners are encouraged to make improvements on underutilized properties. This generally involves making additions to dwellings or structures when ample land is available. Property improvements are typically done in coordination with remodeling projects.

Sometimes, even the smallest dwelling addition can trigger the soils/geology report requirement from the local building agency, as well as need for other design professionals (surveyor, structural engineer). When we get calls for fee estimates for soil/geology reports for such small addition projects, owners are often surprised to find that even for a small addition, the fee for a geotechnical investigation and report is considerable, especially with respect to the project scope. There are several reasons for this. Even for an investigation with a limited scope, there are some minimum required work items that do not depend on the size of the addition. In other words, whether an addition project is large or small, it will still require:


1) a field mobilization and exploration program;

2) laboratory tests on selected samples;

3) engineering/geologic evaluation and analysis;

4) detailed drafting of maps and cross sections;

5) a written report with several maps, sections, figures, and supporting calculations


For this reason, sometimes it is better to increase the scope of the planned additions, because much of the described work will only marginally increase from the minimum requirements. In other words, whether the addition is 500sf or 2000sf, it may only add a small additional cost to the geotechnical investigation.

Alternatively, other planned improvements that are being considered for later phases (a future swimming pool, deck, or backyard improvements such as retaining walls) may and should be included with the proposed scope of work. That way, the initial exploration program can include considerations for future planned additions — even if those will be conducted at later phases.

Contact us today to discuss your project needs. At AES Soil, our team of professionals is very knowledgeable about planning for projects and how to get the maximum utility from our efforts.

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