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Check Your Soil before Building a New Home

Building a house takes a lot of work. If you’re just starting to design your brand-new home, you might be wondering what kinds of things should be considered in your new house plans.

One of the most important parts to starting off on the right foot is making sure your soil is suitable to build on. Just like the lumber and concrete you use, the soil beneath your house is a major building material and should be treated as such.

House under constructionShifting Soil

Soil that is prone to shifting will inevitably move over time. This shifting and settling will cause your house to shift as well, possibly causing cracks in the walls and foundation. This is a dangerous and damaging situation for any home.

Unless your house is built on bedrock, your house will settle a bit over time. And while all kinds of soil will shift slightly, the major problems come into play when these shifts are significant.

Different soils shift at different rates and in different amounts. To find out past information about the soil in your build site, pick up a map from your local United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) branch. This soil map will give you a snapshot of your build site’s history and might reveal information about how the lot was previously used.

Retaining Moisture and Draining Rain

Soils with abundant amounts of clay don’t properly drain water beneath the house.Contractors checking soil

  • The porous nature of sand allows water to seep through and escape.
  • Clay also expands and swells with water, meaning each season will shift with the reduction or abundance of water, causing problems in the home foundation.
  • A good sand and gravel mix will make the soil crumbly. A soil like loam is a mixture of organic materials, like sand and clay. This soil choice allows water to drain, though not as effectively as a sand soil.
  • Chalky soil is also good for building, since it doesn’t retain moisture and change shapes with season. A builder often adds more sand to a new plot for extra firmness and water drainage.


When you’re having a house built, it’s important that the soil on your site is fully decomposed. A soil that is still changing in composition will cause problems if it continues to decompose beneath the foundation.

Surrounding Soil

Another factor to keep in mind when you’re choosing a soil for your home’s foundation is how it will affect the surrounding areas for planting. Consider what the soil mixture will do to your garden beds and what shrubbery will best grow in the soil you may need to add.

The soil across Texas is diverse, and your home site’s type will depend largely upon your region. You get one chance to build your home – so make sure your building site is one that you’re confident in!