Is your home site suitable for construction? It’s a question most landowners might not think to ask before making one of their largest financial investments, home building. West Virginia University Extension Land Reclamation Specialist Jeff Skousen explains what every landowner should know before buying or building.

“You can avoid a lot of potential problems and costly mistakes if the soil and home site characteristics are evaluated before construction begins or before a house is purchased,” Skousen said.

Everything from the floodplain to the soil’s ability to limit septic tank absorption or sewage lagoons needs to be considered.

A new fact sheet available at local WVU Extension Service offices, or by visiting, outlines the nine critical components of soil and site factors and explains the limitations to each.

“Even if the homeowner isn’t the one evaluating the site, it’s important that he or she be able to have an educated discussion with the contractor,” Skousen said.

Skousen’s fact sheet also delves into the soil’s depth, erosion and slope.

“If you’re considering buying an existing home or a site for home construction, make on-site examinations of soil and site factors, study the site’s soil map and ask longtime nearby residents about site conditions,” Skousen said.
He also recommends seeking assistance from soil scientists at the Natural Resources Conservation Service or WVU Extension Service specialists.

Doing your homework before you buy might seem like a time consuming task but the benefits certainly outweigh any of the effort,” Skousen said. “You’ll rest easier in your home if you know it’s built on a solid foundation and is safe from flooding.”

For more information, contact your local office of the WVU Extension Service or visit


cw 3/26/13

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CONTACT: Cassie Waugh, WVU Extension Service; office: 304-293-8735; cell: 304-376-1829