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.”