Construction Law

Everything You Need to Know About Soil Defects featured image

Everything You Need to Know About Soil Defects

If you’ve worked in the construction industry for any period of time, you know that construction defects are not confined to buildings and structures. In fact, some of the most significant construction defect claims are related to soil movement, subsidence, and expansion damages. A number of factors can contribute to these kinds of foundation defects, including the inadequacy of the foundation to accommodate soil movement, failure of the retaining wall, and ponding of water under the structure that results in soil movement. In today’s brief article, we’ll explore the categories of soil movement, who can be held responsible, and common repair options. If you are currently facing a defect lawsuit as a result of a soil or foundation movement defect, please contact the Miami construction defect lawyers at Cotney Attorneys & Consultants.

Related: Construction Defects: Landscape and Soil Defects

How Does Soil Movement Cause Damage to a Building?

There are several aspects of soil movement that can damage buildings or other structures; however, soil movement claims generally fall into one of two categories: soil subsidence or soil expansion. Soil subsidence, also known as soil settlement, occurs when a building or structure is constructed on top of fill soil — soil that is imported to the site in order to make a leveled building pad. It generally supplies more stability than top soil. During the process of subsidence, however, the fill soil settles resulting in movement of the building. Soil expansion, on the other hand, occurs when the soil underneath a structure (typically clay soil) rises and contracts over time. This cycle of contraction and expansion continuously causes movement and damage to the building. Other problems involving soil that don’t fall into either of these categories include improper grading, inadequate compaction, inadequate site drainage, and inadequate depth of pilasters.

Who Can Be Held Responsible?

Many parties involved in the construction project can potentially be held responsible for soil movement and foundation damages, including the general contractor, grade, soil engineer, and developer. Subsurface defects often occur when contractors fail to account for factors like shifting soil prior to construction of the building or structure. It’s not uncommon for contractors and owners alike to begin pointing fingers as soon as a construction defect arises. What’s most important to remember is that if you believe you may be held liable for a construction defect, you need to contact one of the Miami construction defect attorneys at Cotney Attorneys & Consultants as soon as possible to defend your name and your business.

Related: Who is Liable for Construction Defects?

What Are Some Common Repair Options?

If it’s discovered that the building or structure you worked on is sinking or subsiding, a geotechnical engineer will be called in to analyze the building, evaluate the soil, and determine the appropriate repairs. Common repair options include underpinning, mudjacking, and compaction grounding, each of which requires extensive cosmetic repairs to the building. In compaction grounding, for example, large wands are buried into the soil where grout is then pumped in to stabilize and solidify the surface. This fill soil is less likely to settle and the fill voids can be reduced. Expansive soil problems may require other methods, such as the installation of a thick, heavy slab designed to resist the cycle of movement. 

Our firm has successfully navigated a wide variety of construction defect cases, including soil and foundation movement cases. If you are involved in a lawsuit and may be held responsible for a construction defect, it’s time to contact one of the Miami construction defect lawyers with Cotney Attorneys & Consultants.

If you would like to speak with one of our Miami construction defect attorneys, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.