Beyond the Build

Construction Trends

When “Sugar Sand Beaches” Aren’t a Selling Point.

Many times, prime real estate sits undeveloped because it’s a tough build. Florida is famous for this problem, because of the high concentration of organic matter in their sandy soil.

Recently, when a customer came to us, we spent a fair amount of time figuring out how the buildings and parking area would carry the load. We started with wet mass stabilization. For several weeks , we collected and tested soil samples, mixing with varying ratios of cement, trying to attain improved soil strength to bear the new structures. There was too much “sugar” in the sand, and in the end, we could not make it work. We also discussed undercutting the site 8 feet, and backfilling with offsite fill, but this proved too costly. (Lowering the water table, the general prep and the offsite material)

We landed on a geogrid system for the parking field, and an extensive piling foundation system for the structures. We used 55′ timber piles driven using a Junttan HHKS pile hammer. The most economical approach was the path of least resistance: bridge the swamp in the parking areas and drive through it to support the structures.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.