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Deep soil samples taken at troubled subdivision
May 22, 2014 | 2983 views | 1 1 comments | 638 638 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Soil sample drilling - courtesy photo
Soil sample drilling - courtesy photo

NORTH SALT LAKE —  Crews are boring down 40 feet in the ground to obtain soil samples at the Pheasant Hollow Subdivision proposed in Farmington.

So said Bruce Robinson, president of Symphony Homes, the North Salt Lake contractor who wants to build 10-12 homes on about four acres at 50 E. 700 South.

It would adjoin a subdivision built a dozen or so years ago where some property owners have experienced settling and cracking.

On May 6, the Farmington City Council unanimously approved going ahead with the schematic phase of the project. It also mandated a soil study be done before any other approvals can be requested.

“That’s substantive,” Robinson said of the 40-foot deep samples. “We can go exactly where we need to go to hit stable soil. This time they’re going to make absolutely sure by doing these bore samples.”

Soil samples at the adjacent sample were taken, but not to near that depth.

 He said soils engineers were on the site last week, testing all of the potential lots.

“This is an area that is buildable, Robinson said. “It has to be handled correctly. We have to be sure to get down to stable soil, to soil that supports a foundation.”

Foundations either have to be extended down or helical piers installed, somewhat like was done with the World Trade Center, only on a much smaller scale, he said.

“There’s a critical difference with the first phase, where the engineer used a backhoe, thought they had hit stable enough soil. We just followed their recommendations” in going ahead and building, Robinson said.

Earthtech Engineering, P.C. of Ogden was retained to complete that study.

“We are being a lot more cautious. We simply will bore until we hit solid ground,” Robinson said. “We will bore this deep, stabilize at this depth. There won’t be any guess work. We will make sure we get it.”

He claimed  “some lots are fine, some probably need some kind of pier support. The soil isn’t consistent.”

When cracks appeared in a home in the first subdivision, Robinson said a soils engineer was called and applied 1,500 lbs. per square foot of bearing strength.

“They had to stress double, triple the foundation, loaded it up, monitored it for three to four weeks. It didn’t budge. We put three-four times the weight of a normal house, couldn’t get it to move.” he said.

Calling such problems “complicated,” he said the soil could have been OK but water may’ve been introduced.

“We understand why the public is concerned. We’re not proud, happy or pleased about it at all,” Robinson said. “The unfortunate thing is we did everything we were asked to do.”

A couple of homeowners have sought reimbursement for repairs, some in the 10s of thousands of dollars.

“We have professional liability insurance,” Robinson said. “Some received satisfaction. Some haven’t done anything. If you get a problem with your car engine, if you don’t get it fixed, the engine gets worse and worse.”

It’s the same with problems in a home, he said. “If you had addressed it up front, new damage caused would’ve been much less than now.

“I don’t want to sound insensitive,” Robinson repeated several times. “These are people who have had a real problem,” he said of the adjoining Continental Estates Subdivision.

“It’s a real struggle. It’s not easy for a buyer to get the case easily satisfied.”

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May 23, 2014
May 23, 2014

Comment on “Deep Soil Samples” article from Howard Dygert

I just read the soil samples article of May 22, 2014. Mr. Robinson could have been a little more precise with his information. Here are my comments on each line of the article.

Line 1: “Crews having the ability of drilling 40 feet drilled test holes May 14-15, 2014 at the site of Proposed Pheasant Hollow Subdivision.” Comment: Test holes were drilled to depths of 17’-26’.

Line 2: The plat submitted for approval was for 12 homes on 4.55 acres.

Line 3: The settling and cracking is the home sinking into the ground. One home sank 5 inches on one end and 4 1/2 inches on the other end, breaking the house apart at the attached garage. The sinking and twisting of the house caused every section of floor tile to break or pop off the floor. Every piece of sheet rock separated at the seam. Door frames were distorted and the doors would not close, and on and on.

Another home is 3 inches lower on the front than the back and the garage is breaking away from the house.

The cost of bringing the houses level and square by repairing foundations and interior damage is more than the houses cost to build. A conservative estimate of the losses to the 6 homes that have the most damage would be over $1,500,000. Symphony Homes calls this “negative consequences.”

Line 4: Is accurate

Line 5: This site is a wetland that is a unique soils profile of lakebed sediments consisting of fine silt and sand filled with peat from 7 ½ feet to 15 feet thick. No one has discovered stable soil at any depth. It is not a tar pit, but it is unsafe.

Line 6: Soil samples of the first Phase (Continental Estates Plat 1) were from 12 feet to 26 feet.

Line 7: Soil engineers were on site May 14-15 testing 6 of the 12 potential lots. The other 6 were tested in 2008 by digging with the back hoe.

Line 8: The same as Line 5.

Line 9: Bids for piers to stabilize homes in “Plat I” are $90,000 to $100,000 for each homes. They are not guaranteed to stop settling, but should give homes a life span of 25 years.

Line 10 and 11: The engineer (Earthtech Engineering) did not use a backhoe. “Borings were drilled on March 26, 1998 using a 4 inch diameter continuous flight auger.” The engineers’ conclusions were “the peats which cover the site are not suitable for foundation support without the risks of long term settlement and the loose sands which underlie the peats are highly compressible and………the risks at this site cannot be totally eliminated.” (page 7)

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