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303.1 General

Foundation investigation shall be conducted and a Professional Report by a Registered Civil Engineer experienced or knowledgeable in Soil Mechanics and Foundations shall be submitted at each building site.

For structures to two stories or higher, it is recommended that an exhaustive geotechnical study be performed to evaluate in-situ soil parameters for foundation design and analysis. It is recommended that a minimum of one borehole per two hundred, 200 m2 of the structure’s footprint be drilled to a depth of at least 5 m into hard strata or until a suitable bearing layer is reached unless otherwise specified by the consulting geotechnical engineer. The total number of boreholes per structure should be no less than 2 for structures whose footprints are less than 300 m2 and no less than 3 for those structures with larger footprints.

For buildings with basements, it is recommended that the depth of boring should extend to twice the least plan dimension of the structure’s footprint plus the depth of the basement.

An exhaustive geotechnical investigation should also be conducted in cases of questionable soils, expansive soils, unknown groundwater table to determine whether the existing ground water table is above or within 1.5 m below the elevation of the lowest floor level or where such floor is located below the finished ground level adjacent to the foundation, pile foundations, or in rock strata where the rock is suspected to be of doubtful characteristics or indicate variations in the structure of the rock or where solution cavities or voids are expected to be present in the rock.

The building official may require that the interpretation and evaluation of the results of the foundation investigation be made by a registered civil engineer experienced and knowledgeable in the field of geotechnical engineering.

303.2 Soil Classification

For the purposes of this chapter, the definition and classification of soil materials for use in Table 304-1 shall be according to ASTM D-2487.

Soil classification shall be based on observation and any necessary field or laboratory tests of the materials disclosed by borings or excavations made in appropriate locations.

Additional studies may be necessary to evaluate soil strength, the effect of moisture variation on soil-bearing capacity, compressibility, liquefaction and expansiveness.

303.3 Questionable Soil

Where the classification, strength or compressibility of the soil are in doubt, or where a load bearing value superior to that specified in this code is claimed, the building official shall require that the necessary soil investigation be made.

303.4 Liquefaction Study

The building official may require a Liquefaction evaluation study in accordance with Section 303.6 when, during the course of the foundation investigation, all of the following conditions are discovered:

1. Shallow ground water, 2 m or less.

2. Unconsolidated saturated sandy alluvium (N < 15) 3. Seismic Zone 4.


The building official may waive this evaluation upon receipt of written opinion of a qualified geotechnical engineer that liquefaction is not probable.

303.5 Expansive Soil

Soils meeting all four of the following provisions shall be considered expansive, except that tests to show compliance with Items 1, 2 and 3 shall not be required if the test prescribed in Item 4 is conducted:

1. Plasticity index (PI) of 15 or greater, determined in accordance with ASTM D 4318.and Liquid Limit > 50.

2. More than 10 percent of the soil particles pass a No.

200 sieve (75 m), determined in accordance with ASTM D 422.

3. More than 10 percent of the soil particles are less than 5 micrometers in size, determined in accordance with ASTM D 422.

4. Expansion index greater than 20, determined in accordance with ASTM D 4829.

303.5.1 Design for Expansive Soils

Footings or foundations for buildings and structures founded on expansive soils shall be designed in accordance with Section 1805.8.1 or 1805.8.2.

Footing or foundation design need not comply with Section 303.5.3 or 303.5.4 where the soil is removed in accordance with Section 303.5.4, nor where the building official approves stabilization of the soil in accordance with Section 303.5.5.

303.5.2 Foundations

Footings or foundations placed on or within the active zone of expansive soils shall be designed to resist differential volume changes and to prevent structural damage to the supported structure. Deflection and racking of the supported shall be limited to that which will not interfere with the usability and serviceability of the structure.

Foundations placed below where volume change occurs or below expansive soil shall comply with the following provisions:

1. Foundations extending into or penetrating expansive soils shall be designed to prevent uplift of the supported structure.

2. Foundations penetrating expansive soils shall be designed to resist forces exerted on the foundation due to soil volume changes or shall be isolated from the expansive soil.

303.5.3 Slab on Ground Foundations

Moments, shears and deflections for use in designing slab-on-ground mat or raft foundations on expansive soils shall be determined in accordance with WRI/CRSI Design of Slab-on-Ground Foundations or PTI Standard Requirements for Analysis of Shallow Concrete Foundations on Expansive Soils. Using the moments, shears and deflections determined above, prestressed slabs-on-ground, mat or raft foundations on expansive soils shall be designed in accordance with PTI Standard Requirements for Design of Shallow Post-Tensioned Concrete Foundations on Expansive Soils. It shall be permitted to analyze and design such slabs by other methods that account for soil-structure interaction, the deformed shape of the soil support, the place or stiffened plate action of the slab as well as both center lift and edge lift conditions.

Such alternative methods shall be rational and the basis for all aspects and parameters of the method shall be available for peer review.

303.5.4 Removal of Expansive Soil

Where expansive soil is removed in lieu of designing footings or foundations in accordance with Section 302.3.2, the soil shall be removed to a depth sufficient to ensure a constant moisture content in the remaining soil. Fill material shall not contain expansive soils and shall comply with Section 302.3.3.


Expansive soil need not be removed to the depth of constant moisture, provided the confining pressure in the expansive soil created by the fill and supported structure exceeds the swell pressure.

303.5.5 Stabilization

Where the active zone of expansive soils is stabilized in lieu of designing footings or foundations in accordance with Section 306.2, the soil shall be stabilized by chemical treatment, dewatering, pre-saturation or equivalent techniques.

303.6 Compressible Soils

If the boreholes show that the proposed structures are to be built above compressible fine-grained soils (with N< 6), it is recommended that consolidation tests be performed in accordance with ASTM D 2435 to determine the settlement parameters for the site.

If wide, massive loads within the structures to be built on compressible fine-grained soils are to be expected for prolonged periods of time built, the settlement effects on adjacent structures should be evaluated as well.

303.7 Reports

The soil classification and design bearing capacity shall be shown on the plans, unless the foundation conforms to Table 305-1. The building official may require submission of a written report of the investigation, which shall include, but need not be limited to, the following information:

1. A plot showing the location of all test borings and/or excavations.

2. Descriptions and classifications of the materials encountered.

3. Elevation of the water table, if encountered.

4. Recommendations for foundation type and design criteria, including bearing capacity, provisions to mitigate the effects of differential settlements and expansive soils, provisions to mitigate the effects of liquefaction and soil strength, provisions for special foundation solutions and ground improvement , and the effects of adjacent loads.

5. Expected total and differential settlement.

6. Laboratory test results of soil samples.

7. Field borehole log containing the following information

a) Project location b) Depth of borehole c) Ground elevation

d) Ground water table elevation e) Date started and finished

The soil classification and design-bearing capacity shall be shown on the plans, unless the foundation conforms to Table 305-1.

When expansive soils are present, the building official may require that special provisions be made in the foundation design and construction to safeguard against damage due to this expansiveness. The building official may require a special investigation and report to provide these design and construction criteria.

Table 303-2 Laboratory and Field Tests Laboratory /

Moisture content D2216-05 Moisture/ water content Grain size


D422-63 Soil gradation Atterberg Limits D4318-05 Liquid limit, plastic


USCS D2487-00 Classification of


Specific Gravity D854-05 Specific gravity Shrinkage Limit D427-04 Shrinkage limit Organic Matter D2974-00 Moisture content, ash

content and percent organic matter in soil Swedish Weight

Sounding Test JIS


Nsw-value indicating, undrained soil shear strength

UCT Test (Soils) D2166-00 Strength parameters Tri-axial (UU


D2850-03a Strength parameters Tri-axial (CU


D4767-04 Strength parameters Oedometer (1-D

Consolidation) D2435-04 Consolidation parameters Laboratory Vane


D4648-05 Strength parameters Direct Shear


D3080-04 Strength parameters UCT for Intact

Rock D2938-95 Strength parameters

Standard Penetration Test

D1586-99 N-value Modified Proctor


D1557-02 Maximum dry density

Standard Proctor

Test D698-00a Maximum dry

density Field Density


D1556-00 Maximum dry density

CBR Lab Test D1883-05 CBR Cone Penetration


D3441-05 Soil strength parameters

reflection D5777-00 Maps subsurface geologic conditions,

D7128 Maps lateral

continuity of

D4428 Corrosion Potential

of soils , Electrical grounding,

stratigraphic studies 303.8 Soil Tests

Tables 303-2 and 303-3 summarize the commonly used field and laboratory tests needed in determining the in-situ soil parameters for use in foundation design and analysis.

303.9 Liquefaction Potential and Soil Strength Loss When required by Section 303.3, the potential for soil liquefaction and soil strength loss during earthquakes shall be evaluated during the geotechnical investigation. The geotechnical evaluation shall assess potential liquefaction susceptibility potential consequences of any liquefaction and soil strength loss, including estimation of differential settlement, lateral movement or reduction in foundation soil-bearing capacity, and discuss mitigating measures.

Such measures shall be given consideration in the design of the building and may include, but are not limited to, ground stabilization, selection of appropriate foundation type and depths, selection of appropriate structural systems to accommodate anticipated displacements, or any combination of these measures.

The potential for liquefaction and soil strength loss shall be evaluated for a site peak ground acceleration that, as a minimum, conforms to the probability of exceedance specified in Section 208.6.2. Peak ground acceleration may be determined based on a site-specific study taking into account soil amplification effects.

In the absence of such a study, peak ground acceleration may be assumed equal to the seismic zone factor in Table 208-3.

303.10 Adjacent Loads

Where footings are placed at varying elevations, the effect of adjacent loads shall be included in the foundation design.

303.11 Drainage

Provisions shall be made for the control and drainage of surface water around buildings and ensure that scour will not threaten such structures through adequate embedment.

(See also Section 305.5.5).

303.12 Plate Load Test

The plate load test is generally used for determination of soil subgrade properties for rigid foundations. If used for building foundations, it must be emphasized that the Depth of Influence is only up to twice the width of the test plate.

Care must be used when extending the results to deeper depths.