Top 5 Home Construction Tips That Will Keep You Out of Contaminated Land
Construction is a booming business, with the sector projected to grow by 4.5% annually in the coming years. It’s also an industry that’s fraught with legal and financial pitfalls for homebuyers. Recent studies have shown that one in every five new homes has some level of contamination. This can range from substandard wiring to mold or blackwater infiltration. Fortunately, you can take steps before you begin planning your new construction project to ensure that you don’t become another victim of contaminated land. With the right precautions, buying your dream home doesn’t have to be a nightmare in waiting. Here are our top five home construction tips that will keep you out of contaminated land:
Know Your Land Before You Build
Before you sign any contracts, it’s crucial to know the exact nature of the land on which you’ll be building your new home. First, have the soil tested for contaminants. If you live in a floodplain, you may wish to consult with a hydrologist to determine how much of your land is subject to flooding. If you live in an area with sandy soil, you may wish to research how prevalent sinkholes are in your area. Make sure to know the exact boundaries of your land as well, since any contamination or sinkholes may extend beyond your property line. Even knowing the history of your land can be useful. If you’re building a new home on the site of an old farm, for example, you may wish to have a soil expert test for potentially harmful pesticide residues.
Hire a Licensed Inspector and Request a Soil Test
Before you make any final decisions about construction or materials, it’s important to hire a qualified inspector to perform an inspection. Make sure that your inspector is a licensed professional, such as a building or electrical inspector, who has experience with new construction. If you’re building on contaminated land, your inspector will be able to tell you what materials are contaminated and where they’re located. This can help you make decisions regarding materials and construction based on the contaminants on your site. A soil sample can also tell you where the contaminants are. This can help you make decisions about construction, as well as help you to avoid contaminants.
Watch out for “Bunding” and Ephemeral Streams
Bunding is the practice of building a “bund” (an earthen barrier) along a stream to divert water from the area. In some areas, building a bund next to an ephemeral stream can actually create a false water source. Depending on the local regulations, this can cause a false reading on your water meters. It can also indicate that your construction is next to an ephemeral stream, which can cause many problems. In some areas, you may need to avoid building next to ephemeral streams altogether. If your construction is near an ephemeral stream, you may need to take extra precautions when building your foundation or installing plumbing.
Don’t Buy the Dirt Cheap
Some homeowners choose to save money and purchase their dirt rather than hire a contractor to haul and grade their site. While this may seem like a good idea, it can actually result in a host of contamination problems, as well as mistakes. If you purchase the dirt to grade your site, you may end up with pockets of contaminants in your foundation. You may also miss grading issues that could cause structural issues, leaks, or mold. If you buy the dirt to create your foundation, you can end up with an unstable foundation that can fail over time. Dirt usually does not have the consistency of concrete, which is what you need for a solid foundation. If you purchase the dirt to create a walkway or driveway, you run the risk of making the driveway uneven or creating a situation where the dirt can become mucky during certain times of the year.
Be Wary of Unimproved Land
Unimproved land is land that has not yet been graded. If you select unimproved land, you’ll be responsible for hiring a contractor to haul and grade your site. While this may seem like a good idea if you’re on a tight budget, you need to be aware that grading your site will bring up any contaminants for your contractors to find. They may also miss potential issues that could cause structural problems down the road. If you buy unimproved land, you may also have to deal with the fact that the land is not rectangular in shape. This can make creating a rectangular home more difficult.
When you’re building a new home, it’s important to know as much as you can about the land you’re building on. You can take steps before you begin planning your construction project to ensure that you don’t become another victim of contaminated land. With the right precautions, buying your dream home doesn’t have to be a nightmare in waiting.