Building a home or a building on the side of a hill can allow for breathtaking scenic views and increased property value. Building a home or a building on the side of a hill and not installing a proper foundation or constructing the home or building on a slip plane of a slope can have an adverse effect.
One thing can be said about hillsides, is that they are always in constant movement. The causes of the movement can have varying degrees of impact depending on a number of factors.
- How well the slope is constructed. Man made slopes are required to have rigorous compaction testing as they are being built. Not having the proper compaction of the fill soils can result in the creation of an unstable slope.
- The material with which a hillside is made up of also carries a large role in how much movement a slope will have and how quickly it will occur. Clay soils expand and contract at an alarming rate. Compound that will the slippery texture clay produces when in contact with water and you have a perfect scenario for the slope to start to slide and ultimately fail.
- Vegetation on the hillside helps to hold the slope together by the intertwining of the root systems of these plants. They essentially create a weaving effect that can help to reduce the amount of spoil run off during a heavy rain.
- Drainage is critical to the life expectancy of any slope. Minimizing the amount of water that is able to flow down the slope from run off is critical to maintaining the slope's integrity. You will see catch basins and V-ditches along slopes to break up the amount of water that is able to free flow and wash out the slope. Water is not going to be the slope's best friend in ensuring minimal movement of the slope.
Fortunately, we have been working with many engineering firms for many years to construct cost effective slope repair methods and strategies. Learn more about how we repair and stabilize these slopes throughout our website.
Signs of Slope Movement
We inspect hundreds of homes each year that are nestled into the hillsides of our beautiful Southern California landscape. With visiting all of these homes throughout the years we’ve become quite familiar with the signs and symptoms associated with a slope that needs repair. These are some of the most common signs of slope movement that we see in Southern California.
- Leaning Trees
Trees are a unique for a variety of reasons, but very unique in the way that grow on a slope. When you look at a tree on flat land it grows straight up. Now a tree that has been planted on a slope still wants to grow straight up to the sun, but if that slope moves so will the tree's growth trajectory. The tree will actually start to lean and then start to grow up again. Always chasing the sun!
- Tilting or Leaning Fences and Walls
Just like the trees walls are designed and built to be straight. When the slope starts to move the wall will start to move with the slope and the top of the wall will start to lean towards the bottom of the slope. Sloping walls and fences can be a good sign to show that a hillside is moving, especially if the wall or fence was just built.
- Gaps in Concrete Around Your Home
As the slope moves it will pull everything that is sitting on top of it, down with it. Your concrete around your home can be greatly impacted by slope movement. It will usually start with a gap forming between where the house and the concrete patio meet. This gap can get wider as the concrete continues to move along with the slope.
- Leaning Posts or Decks
A lot of homes that are constructed on slopes have large decks built out over the slope. If the slope starts to move, so will the deck supports that are resting on the soils. This can be visually seen by looking at your support posts or by putting a level on the posts to see if they are standing straight up and down. If they are not or if you can see that they are leaning, more than likely they are being impacted by the movement of the slope.