Soil testing cost guide

geotechnical engineers evaluating the soil

Soil testing is one of the first few processes that you would have to engage in when you want to build a house. A soil test enables you to check for moderate ground movement and determine whether the ground that you want to build on has the required conditions to be able to sustain the structure. A soil test is also known as the Site Classification Report in structural engineering. 

Soil engineers are professionals that are equipped with the facilities enabling them to perform soil tests. They can be hired either privately or through an architectural or construction company. Soil engineers are also known as geotechnical engineers who have met the required criteria before being certified. Soil Testing costs vary from location to location and will depend on several factors apart from the charges that the engineer will charge for doing his job.

How to Estimate Soil Testing Costs

Hands holding soil

The estimation for soil testing is not done randomly. Some qualities are often considered before they are made, including the following:

Number of tests required

Soil Tests are usually not completed in one process. Few processes are required before an engineer can be able to say that he has completed a soil testing session. A standard minimum soil testing price will cost between $390.00 to $490.00 (including GST). The pricing will include other aspects such as existing structures, new structures, sheds, decks, pools, and others.

The purpose of each structure can determine the processes that are involved in the soil testing. A standard soil investigation will require the drilling of about 2 to 3 boreholes that are 1.5 – 1.8m metres from the normal surface of the soil. Additional investigations for clarity will ensure that you will spend more to get the required results. Below is a list of soil testing types and their costs.

Cost of soil testing based on type

However, a standard soil test costs around $390.00 to $490.00. Below are some other soil test types and their average cost:

  • Turf Soil Testing: $20 - $100
  • Sulphur and Boron Testing: $25 - $100
  • A La Carte Services: $30 - $50
  • Soil Texture: $35 - $75
  • Gravity Testing: $50 - $80
  • Fertility Testing: $50 - $300
  • Haney: $55 - $65
  • Heavy Metal Screening: $70 - $200
  • NPK Soil Test: $80 - $100
  • Compaction: $100 - $125
  • Percolation: $100 - $1000
  • Basic Profile: $270 - $300
  • Oil Tank Soil Testing: $500 - $550
  • Advanced Profile: $500 - $570
  • Composition: $600 - $675
  • Boring (15 feet Deep): $1000 - $1,200

Type of development

Woman kneeling down using soil testing kit and writing results in a book

Soil Testing can also vary from the proposed development or the situation that might warrant the soil testing. There are different types of developments that can persuade the need for Soil Testing such as the construction of roads and buildings, farming, research purposes, industrial purposes, and other developments. Soil testing for the building of houses may cost differently and even more than the ones that are required for road construction due to the load involved.

Deep Filling: Sites that are characterised by deep filling will necessitate the usage of deep drilling for their soil testing. The process is charged per metre rate and is agreed upon between both parties before the job resumes.

Additional Storey: Making an additional storey or an extension to an existing storey building will require you to conduct a footing probe to ensure that the soil is adequate for that to happen. The process enables engineers to examine, measure, and study foundational material, the bearing, and the soil conditions present at the footing of the building.

Normal costs for a footing probe start at $150.00 which includes the GST. The higher cost for testing in these soil conditions can be influenced by the presence of concrete paving at the footing, the presence of a wall, and other obstructions.

Multi-Unit/Townhouse Developments: This involve structures such as water sources, road constructions, and other processes. It can mean that there will be more than one type of testing conducted by engineers. The cost will depend on the type of testing required for the development in view.

Site location and accessibility 

Site location is another factor that can affect the cost of a Soil testing procedure. If the site is located in a site that is far, the engineer may be forced to charge you more for distance and inconvenience. You also have to consider the accessibility of the site to motorable areas where they can be able to transport and move the testing equipment with relative ease. Sites that are made up of hard surfaces may force the geotechnical engineer to charge more than usual for their equipment and expertise.

Travel fees

Engineers that are located out of Australia or at least Melbourne will charge you more for their flight tickets and the cost of moving their equipment. This charge is normally based on the distance covered for the journey.

Additional factors that affect the cost of soil testing

 

Here are some additional factor that may affect the cost of soil testing:

Depth of drilling required

Soil Testing processes that involve drilling will demand the usage of power machines and equipment that can core into the soil. The cost of the machinery is charged at the rate of how deep it can drill. The average cost for drilling into the ground 15 feet deep is between $1000 to $1200 and this can even cost more when you consider how much deeper you may need to drill. Additional charges will be added to the ones listed above as soon as the equipment passes 15 feet deep.

Codes and classifications

The Australian standard AS2870-2011 – Residential Slabs and Footing inspects and lists out the conditions through which geotechnical engineers can conduct soil tests. If your planned development does not fall within the area of the AS2870-2011 – Residential slabs and Footings, then the project will become a geotechnical site investigation. This investigation will then require costs that are determined by the project scope, the structural engineer, and what the testing is required to cover.

Sites that are classified within a designated Erosion Management Overlay (EMO) follow a definite guideline that requires checking slope stability, landslip risk, and others. This process is pricey due to how delicate the process is and it costs between $2,700 and $6,000.

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When is soil testing required?

Soil testing enables you to have a good knowledge of the soil around your house, farm, worksite, or any other site that requires development for specific reasons. Some of the situations that require soil testing include:

  • Farming
  • Construction
  • Erosion Control
  • Environmental safety
  • Hazard control
  • Research

How long do soil tests take?

The time it takes to complete a soil test is dependent on the amount of testing involved and the conditions that require it. On average, a soil test can be completed within 20 to 30 minutes up to 2 hours or more in extreme cases. The availability and effectiveness of the soil testing equipment also determine how fast a soil test can be completed.

Auger being used to take soil sample

Tips for getting soil tested

If you need good soil testing work, you may have to consult geotechnical companies in Melbourne and other parts of Australia. These companies have the certifications and expertise to execute soil test jobs of any kind. They also give you a good professional opinion on the nature and standard of soil tests you need for your site.

Soil testing is a delicate and important process, therefore you need to get a geotechnical consultant with the required insurance to get you a detailed field investigation that will also estimate how much it will cost to complete the process. You can conduct interviews before you select one.

Find soil testing services with iseekplant

Soil testing is a necessary process before any infrastructural development can be fully started in Australia. Iseekplant is Australia’s largest online construction marketplace offering services like soil testing across the country. 

Contact us today to request quotes from different soil testing services to compare prices with our Get a Quote Tool. We make it easier for seekers to have easy access to thousands of professional soil testing experts across Australia and find expert advice regarding the soil test price. Our trusted team can help you find the right soil tester that fits your unique needs and budget, so email our projects team for more information.

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