Soil Classification

Before you can build your new house you need to know what sort of foundation is needed, which is based on the ‘Soil classification’

Geotechnical Investigation

A Geotechnical investigations is required to provide a report stating the soil classification.

The Investigation,and the Report should be in accordance with the following Australian Standards;

  • AS2870-1996: “Residential Slabs and Footings – Construction”
  • AS1726-1993: “Geotechnical site investigations”

Standard Classifications

The classification of the site is based on the expected movement of the foundation soils – generally related to the capacity of the soil to shrink or swell.

Your site should be in one of the following classifications:

Class A
Mostly sand and rock sites, with little or no ground movement expected.(see these links: Sand & Rock)

Class S
Slightly reactive clay sites. Only slight ground movement from moisture changes expected.

Class M
Moderately reactive Clay or Silt sites which can experience moderate ground movement from moisture changes (See this link: Building on Clay).

Class H
Highly reactive clay sites. Can experience high ground movement from moisture changes.

Class E
Extremely reactive sites. Can experience extreme ground movement from moisture changes.

Class P
A problem site. This can includes soft soils, such as soft clay or silt, varying depths of Fill (see this link: Fill), loose sands, landslips, mine subsistance, collapsing soils, soils subject to erosion, reactive sites subject to abnormal moisture conditions, or sites which cannot be classified otherwise.

Added category ‘D’

Soil types M, H, and E may also have an added classification of ‘D’. This indicates deep seasonal moisture variation which can mean significant expansion and contraction.
For example, from a dry to a saturated state

  • Class M-D may move up to 40mm,
  • Class H-D 40mm to 70mm
  • Class E-D can move more than 70mm, (up to 250mm has been found in some cases)

Why the report may increase the cost

If you are looking at a Project Builders its worth being aware that their standard price will be based on either an S or M class foundation.

Usually you will be lucky if the foundation is in this range………so you could be up for additional costs.

See the following link to understand why a classification from the developer may be better than the one from the builder: Different Soil Classification Results


 Lots more information in the anewhouse Guide to Buying a Block for only $4

For more posts related to land see Blocks