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May 12, 2021

Understanding your “Soils Report” in Colorado and Why it’s Important

When buying a brand new home, you should receive a Soils Report, but what is it and why should you care?

Many of my clients have never heard of this report because they’ve never built a new home before, so I like to explain its purpose and why it’s important that we read it.  It’s also a good document for them to keep for any potential future buyers.  So here is what it is and why you should care:

Any time a home is built in Painted Prairie, the builder has to hire a third-party engineering company to do some testing and complete this Soils Report, or Geotechnical Report as it’s often called.  The report instructs the builder how to build the foundation and basement based on the site conditions, soil composition and ground water levels.  The engineer who creates the report can’t directly tell the builder what to do, but what they can do is make recommendations based on their findings.  One of our main goals for our buyers is to make sure the recommendations were taken by the builder and the home is built appropriately.

The reason this is especially important in Colorado is because we have expansive soils.  That means we have some soils that expand and contract significantly depending on water content.  When the soils expand because of the water they can exert a lot of force and put significant pressure against foundation walls or basements slabs.  The point of this report is to understand the soils and build the home to withstand the pressures that may be caused by expansive soils.  There are no guarantees from the builder or the third-party engineer but this report is their proof that they did their homework on the issue.  (Every builder has some form of structural warranty but these often expire before problems arise)  For more information on expansive soils your builder can provide you with a copy of “A Guide to Swelling Soils in Colorado for Homebuyers and Homeowners”.  (They should all have these books available, but email me if you can’t get one and I’ll provide one at no charge)

I am not an expert in Soils Reports or expansive soils, so I suggest to all my clients that if they have concerns I can recommend a Structural Engineer who can review the findings and property for about $150 – $250.  This blog post is just my two cents on soils reports based on my experience with new built construction.  

If you have a concern about your soils let me know and I’ll be happy to help or connect you with our engineer.

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