If you have been to any construction site before, you would have noticed that they seem to be always very busy, with several tasks going on consecutively. Well, some of these tasks may be minute, but they are all necessary for a successful construction process. In fact, it will be almost impossible to achieve excellent results if these minor but crucial tasks are not heeded. This is why construction sites often consist of different individuals, all contributing to ensure the project is a success.

However, it is important to note that while these little tasks are crucial, other major assignments are even more critical for the success and quality of any construction. One primary task that creates the basis for a smooth construction process is soil testing and treatment. Hence, this article will explain this concept while highlighting the various soil testing methods for construction sites.

What is Soil Testing in Construction and Why is It Necessary?

Soil testing is the first and perhaps the most crucial step in preparing a site for construction. It is necessary because it helps the builders discern if the soil can provide a solid foundation for the building to be erected. It involves analysing the soil strength through several tests on the soil to find out variables like the soil texture, water levels, additional elements, chemical contents, soil density, etc.

Construction companies are well aware of the essence of soil testing, which is why they never take this step for granted. Here, let’s look at some reasons for conducting soil tests on construction sites.

  • Soil testing helps to decide if the site can withstand the weight of the construction
  • It also helps to determine the soil stability
  • It helps to have an insight into how deep the foundation can go
  • Soil testing shows the quantity of water present in the soil

Methods of Soil Testing

Several soil testing methods have been introduced over the years, and they are often used to determine different soil features. Therefore, soil testing methods are often classified according to the test, which includes;

1) Gravity Test: This test is standard in construction sites, and it is used to analyse the weight of the soil on a construction site. The density bottle method is used to get accurate figures in this test, and it involves 4 steps.

  • Empty weight
  • Empty + dry soil
  • Empty + water + dry soil
  • Water-filled Pycnometer

2) Moisture Test: This is used to determine the moisture levels, and it is done in easy steps. A soil sample is weighed the put in the oven to dry. It is then taken out of the oven after 24 hours and tested again. The difference between the two figures is figured to be the moisture content.

3) Atterberg Limit Test: This is among the final tests conducted, and it is used to analyse the soil limits. The limits examined in this test include;

  • Liquid limit
  • Plastic limit
  • Shrinkage limit


Several steps are involved in preparing a site for construction, and each step is essential to ensure the structure is solid and well-rooted. However, a soil test must be first conducted to ascertain the soil strength, and the various methods are highlighted in this article.

The PSA Group provide a range of environmental management services that include soil and water monitoring and testing, polluted water transportation and disposal, along with a host of other critical environmental monitoring and construction services, including dewatering services.