Just Dirt?


It seems so simple when you are digging. The soil should hold up your house, the building, or at least the deck.

But is dirt just dirt? and why is it important?

The ability of the soil to hold up the house or building is critical. It is soft, like clay or silt? Then you need to design a different foundation than if the soil is harder like sandy gravel.

We’ve all stepped on the beach and noticed the amount of “sinking” we do in the sand….or trekked across the snow and walked from hard-pack into loose powder? Do you need snow-shoes to spread out the weight? That is the basis of foundation design.


Such is the life of dirt, or should we say soil? Yep, soil has different densities, characteristics and entire classification systems that geo-technical engineers understand and formulate foundation systems when the soil appears questionable. Most excavators look for the coloration and will feel the soil for the basics: like how granular or spongey?- is it grayish green and clay-like?


As you see the particle size helps determine the resistance to slipping and accordingly helps the structure stay put.  And different soils call for different foundation systems.  From most desireable to least: gravel, sand, silt and clay are the major types.

And as you know, the soils are seldom uniform below the surface. So when there is suspicion of the subsurface conditions, we ask for borings, or test pits to reveal the soil characteristics to help hedge our bets and give us the information to help design the proper foundations.




When the soil gives, or the foundation above does not heed the conditions below- you end up well with this and genuine grief.

If you have questions or are noticing that you doors and windows seem to get stuck frequently, or there are cracks developing at the corners of your door-ways,  foundation cracks expanding-give me a call now 914 980 5532 – I’ll refer you to the proper engineer for review and guidance.