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Costing the Earth: Avoiding Cost Uncertainty from Unknown Ground Conditions

The saying goes, you never know the cost of a development until you’re out of the ground, and with the need for development cost certainty, how do we avoid this?

agb Environmental recently completed a ground investigation for the construction of a two-storey house with a partial basement. During the investigation process, trial pits and boreholes were discovered, indicating the groundwater was shallow and the ground had an unexpectedly low bearing capacity. 

Consequently, it would be unlikely for conventional shallow spread foundations or deepened trench footings to be suitable. It would also present considerable problems for the construction of the partial basement.

The most practical overall foundation design solution that would enable inclusion of a basement would be a piled design. However, the design of the basement would need altering to cover the entire footprint of the building, and to avoid conflicting movements in the ground, which would resulting in lifting or sinking of the building.

Due to the early ground investigations, alterations to the basement designs were able to be made. These investigations not only saved money and time, but they also ensured the house did not face major structural defect.

At agb Environmental we believe in enabling development. For this two-storey dwelling, our ground investigations delivered clear advice to inform foundation design on a problematic site.

Make sure you don’t get caught out, arrange a ground investigation early to ensure your development costs don’t run away before you are out of the ground. For more information call Alex Brearley on 01638 663226 or email at