If you’re looking to build a new home for yourself and your family, understanding the foundational conditions of your property is essential. Poor soil could cause sinkage and other types of damage, many of which will cost thousands to repair. Read on to learn more about what soils are the best for building homes on and how to build on softer soil.

Sand and Gravel

Often, the best determining factor of suitable soil is drainage. If your soil retains a lot of water, your home is at a higher risk of future foundational damage. Gravel and sand drain water more easily than other soils because of their larger particles. This leads to less shifting, which is the main cause of structural cracks and wall separation.

Gravel is slightly more superior to sand, as the latter is susceptible to washing away during storms. In drier areas, though, this is less of a problem.


Loam consists of sand, clay, and silt. These soils have various characteristics that, when combined, make for a durable foundation. Loam drains water quickly, thanks to the sand. The inclusion of clay and silt means the loam is less likely to expand, move, or shrink. Loam must be filtered before construction to eliminate undecomposed materials.

Rock and Bedrock

Rock and bedrock are arguably the best foundational options for constructing a sturdy home. They’re not technically soils, but they’re typically applied under a layer of soil to offer more support overall. Rock doesn’t possess the best drainage abilities, but it’s very resistant to water damage. Additionally, homes are significantly less likely to crack as the rock or bedrock shifts and settles. Ensure that the layer of rock you use is completely level before applying the topsoil.

How To Build on Poor Soil

So can you build on lower-quality soils? On their own, peat and silt are two soil options that drain water inefficiently and lack the sturdiness to support a foundation for many years. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t construct a structure on these properties. In fact, installing piers below a home provides a stronger foundation that’s less likely to sustain damage. In the case of sandy soil near bodies of water, using helical piers to better support your house is recommended. Making sure your contractor is moving forward with the right foundation type for your situation is also important.

Understanding what soils are best for building homes on will ensure a safer, studier property for yourself and your family. Plus, it maintains a higher value for your most important asset. Luckily, there are many solutions to poor soil for you to consider.