If you’re shopping for a home, it’s a good practice to find out how “expansive” the soil is under the one you hope to buy.
Expansive soil is usually full of clay, and it swells when it gets wet and shrinks when it gets dry.
Ask the sellers to tell you if the home is built on expansive soil. If they don’t know, consult with an engineer. It will be worth the money you pay for the consultation to know whether you’re investing your life savings in a property that could cause some costly trouble down the road.
If you’re buying a brand-new home, ask the builder about the soil and whether he is doing anything to prevent expensive soil from damaging your foundation later.
Most people, in fact, don’t know what kind of soil is under the home because it’s possible live in a house for years and years without ever noticing any signs of a foundation problem. That’s because the damage can occur slowly.
When it does, though, it can be major.
The good news is that not all clay-based soil contains enough of the kind of clay that will cause it to heave. And not all clay with the potential to heave will do it—as long as it doesn’t get wet.