One of the questions I asked Ralph Meder, geologist at MCD of Central Florida, several weeks ago was, “Don’t residential property developers know that there may be sinkhole conditions before they begin building homes on a particular site?” I was thinking that if the answer to the question was, “Yes,” shouldn’t the developer then be at least partially responsible when a home is damaged by a sinkhole?” I found out that there are no simple answers to my question.
Developers are required — by law — to test soil conditions on a site prior to building homes or commercial property. They are not, however, required to do sinkhole testing. If the latter were a requirement, we would probably not be able to afford our homes. If you have ever had an engineering crew test for sinkholes on your property, you know how expensive that can be. Now imagine what the cost might be for a developer to test for sinkhole conditions on each individual residential lot. Developers must have an engineering company do soil borings in different locations on the site. Soil borings are required for utility and water line installations. Soil borings give developers a general idea of what type of soil conditions exist underground and help them determine if the site is safe for development. Even if they find loose or sandy soils at a particular location, they cannot predict if, when, or where a sinkhole will develop. Unless the soil conditions are truly deemed unsafe, construction will proceed.
If you are considering buying a residential lot in Central Florida where sinkholes are more prone to occur, you may want to consider pre-construction remediation. Pre-construction remediation does not prevent sinkholes from forming but it protects your home from future structural damage in the event sinkhole conditions occur. It is easier and more cost-effective to underpin a foundation or stabilize weak soils before a home is built. Upfront shoring of the foundation of a home can potentially offset the cost of sinkhole loss coverage over the life of the mortgage. This is especially important when considering the insurance reforms brought on by Florida’s SB 408 legislation.
Contact Helicon Foundation Repair to find out how pre-construction remediation can protect your new home and save you money on sinkhole insurance premiums. As a recognized leader in sinkhole remediation and with over a decade of experience, Helicon Foundation Repair has completed thousands of successful projects.