Protect Your Business—and Bottom Line—Against Soil Movement

As a homebuilder, you need to know about the ways weather can affect your operations—and your bottom line.

When soils receive excess moisture, they swell. When the moisture content decreases, the soils shrink. Because of the resulting swelling and shrinking that occurs, the amount of moisture in the soil at the time of construction is an important consideration.

Soils with high moisture levels during construction can shrink later on as the moisture level decreases. The opposite is true for soils with low moisture content during construction; as dry soils become saturated with moisture they can swell. The condition of the soil, both during and after construction, is an important factor for homebuilders to consider because soil conditions have a direct impact on the foundation of the home.

With the high costs of structural defect repair and the impact defects can have on a builder’s pocketbook and reputation, what steps and precautions can you take to protect yourself and your homebuyers?

There are two important protective measures you need to consider to help your business, your buyers, and your bottom line:

1) Preventative and active moisture management, and

2) Solid risk management practices.

Preventing soil movement from leading to a defect or failure in the foundation or structural components of a home can be addressed using moisture management. By controlling the amount of change in the soil’s moisture level, the risk of movement in the foundation is greatly decreased.

During construction, moisture control and moving soils can be actively addressed using several difference techniques, including: site grading and preparation that allows for positive drainage away from the home’s perimeter; landscaping and irrigation design that doesn’t place water or allow it to collect near the home’s foundation; and finishes such as gutters and downspouts that help move naturally-occurring water safely away from the base of the home.

Along with construction processes designed to understand site soils and alleviate soil movement, all builders should have a solid risk management strategy in place that will help protect their business and their homebuyers in the event a structural defect should occur despite best efforts to prevent it (remember that soils test play a critical role in the homebuilding process, but don’t always reveal the complete soil profile under the property).  For more information, builders can refer to certified engineer soils reports or structural foundation drawings.

One risk management tool designed to specifically help protect builders and homeowners against potential damages is an insurance-backed, new-home, 10 year structural warranty.

In addition to providing coverage for damages resulting from soil movement, a solid third-party warranty should offer coverage that begins on the day of closing, last ten full years, and have strong insurance backing.

Expansive soils and fluctuating weather conditions will always be a part of homebuilding, but with the proper strategies in place, you can confidently protect yourself and your buyers from the potentially devastating effects of a major structural failure caused by expansive soils.

By actively monitoring soil and moisture conditions during construction, using the appropriate techniques to keep water away from the home’s foundation, and using a third-party structural warranty from StrucSure Home Warranty on every home you build, you can rest easy knowing you have taken the proper steps to effectively protect your business and your homebuyers.

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Sources:

http://coloradogeologicalsurvey.org/geologic-hazards/swelling-soils/
http://www.denverfoundationrepair.com/foundation-settlement/expansive-soils.html
http://www.colostate.edu/Dept/CoopExt/4dmg/New/colosoil.htm
http://www.inspection-perfection.com/expansive-soils-destroy-homes-in-colorado.html#.V78NJPkrKCg
http://www.staufferandsons.com/blog/understanding-expandable-soils-building-new-home-colorado/