In Austin, we have bentonite, a type of clay, in our soil, and it can cause a lot of problems. Bentonite expands considerably when it gets wet and shrinks a whole lot when it dries out. Rain and sun—we can have plenty of both in central Texas and these conditions make it very hard for a foundation to perform.
We can design foundations to combat high concentrations of bentonite; the only problem is these foundations are expensive. And bentonite concentrations around Austin can vary considerably. The neighbor down the street may have a “normal” amount, but the lot you’re looking at can have high amounts. Before you spend several hundred thousand dollars on a lot or a tear down, you want to know whether your foundation will cost $10,000 or $100,000.
You can talk to us before you buy and we will hire the right geotechnical engineers to tell us what kind of foundation you will need. If you love the location and decide to proceed even if the property comes back with a high concentration of bentonite, at least you’ll know in advance and can adjust your budget accordingly.