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- Do I Need a Soils Report?
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- Site Visit / Soils Report Review Request
Guidelines for When a Geotechnical (Soils) Report is Required
2022 California Building Code (CBC)
2022 California Residential Code (CRC)*
The following types of projects are provided to help the applicant determine whether their project will require submittal of a Soils (or Geotechnical) Report. Soils Reports are typically not required for non-habitable structures. Please note that the Planning Division reserves the right to require soils reports for projects that are not listed below. The Building & Safety Division assigned Geologist Consultant will make the final determination.
1. New single-family, multi-family or habitable accessory buildings
2. Commercial buildings, industrial buildings or critical facilities
3. Non-habitable buildings which consist of two or more stories
4. Additions to any of the above which is located on slopes greater than 20%, located on fill, located in an area of potential liquefaction, or located in a flood plain, floodway or coastal high hazard zone
5. Additions to single-family, multi-family habitable accessory buildings greater than 500 square feet
6. Additions to a commercial buildings, industrial buildings or critical facilities greater than 250 square feet
7. Modification, reconstruction or replacement of 65 percent of the major structural components—consisting of the foundation, floor framing, exterior wall framing, and roof framing—of an existing habitable structure within any consecutive five-year period, or modification, reconstruction or replacement of 50 percent of the major structural components of an existing critical structure or facility, as defined by this chapter, within any consecutive five-year period, whether the work is done at one time or as the sum of multiple projects.
8. The addition of habitable space to any building, where the addition increases the habitable space by more than fifty (50) percent over the existing habitable space, measured in square feet, whether the additions are constructed at one time or as the sum of multiple additions during the life of the building.
9. Installation of a new foundation for a habitable building.
10. The repair, replacement, or upgrade of an existing foundation of a habitable building that affects more than fifty (50) percent of the foundation (measured in linear feet for perimeter foundations, square feet for slab foundations, or fifty (50) percent of the total number of piers), or an addition to an existing foundation that adds more than fifty (50) percent of the original foundation area, whether the work is performed at one time or as the sum of multiple projects during the life of the building.
11. Any change of use from non-habitable to habitable use.
12. Retaining walls greater than 4 feet in height, which require a building permit, retaining walls that function as a part of a landslide repair whether or not a building permit is required, block walls, and gravity walls
14. Above ground commercial storage facilities for hazardous or flammable material
15. Grading with cuts or fills over three feet in height located within five feet (horizontally) of a property line, or grading that has the potential to cause instability or other grading related impacts to adjacent property
16. Access driveways or roadways that include fill greater than 2’
17. Grading on slopes greater than 20%
18. Creation of cut or fill slopes five feet or greater in height related to slope stabilization, landslide repairs, or streambank protection
19. Grading activities where there is evidence of high groundwater or spring activity
20. Any other project deemed by civil engineering staff or the City Geologist that a geotechnical report is required to ensure the integrity of the proposed work.
21. Any project or structure required by the California Building Code to have a geotechnical report.
* Waivers to the requirements for a soils report may be allowed for projects under the 2022 CRC in accordance with CRC Section 401.4
First determine if the project is in conformance with the Building Code and the Planning Department Ordinance. Contact Planning at 310-544-5287 or at email@example.com . Building & Safety Division can be reached at 310-544-5280 or at firstname.lastname@example.org .
All reports must be reviewed and accepted by the Building & Safety Division before development can be approved. There is a fee for the Soils Report Review ( Geology Fee Schedule ), which is paid prior to Plan Check Review or at the Planning Counter if the soils report is submitted as part of a Development (Discretionary) Permit.
Report review focuses on the completeness of the reports as compared with code requirements, engineering practice and an overall review of the findings and conclusions of the reports to determine whether they adequately address soils and geologic concerns. The soils report must be based upon the same set of California Building Codes that the plans are designed to, and must address the requirements of the building code. If the report(s) are found to have corrections, a letter will be emailed to the consultant and the applicant describing the corrections.
SOILS REPORT AUTHENTICATION
All geotechnical reports submitted to the Building & Safety Division for review must be signed and sealed (stamped) by either a California licensed Civil or Geotechnical Engineer. Licensed engineers may choose to affix their signature and seals to their documents through electronic means. All final civil/geotechnical engineering calculations and reports shall bear the signature and seal or stamp of the licensee. Interim (non-final) documents are not required to be signed and sealed. However, the interim documents must include the name and license number of the engineer as well as a notation as to the intended purpose of the document, such as "preliminary", "not for construction", "for plan check only", or "for review only".
SOILS REPORT EXPIRATION DATE
Geotechnical reports submitted for support of building permit applications must reflect current site conditions and the proposed project. An Addendum Report is required if site conditions differ or the proposed project elements have changed relative to those addressed in the geotechnical report. An Update Report must be prepared for geotechnical reports older than two years from the date of publication unless the geotechnical consultant specifies a shorter expiration date, or until the next California Building Code update; whichever occurs first. The Update Report must address the latest proposed development, the existing site conditions, and the current building code. The Update Report shall utilize the latest plans and/or tentative map as a basis for the exhibits within the report. Additional soils data, updated analyses, and updated geotechnical maps may be required to provide adequate revised recommendations and conclusions. The Update Report shall state whether all recommendations of the prior reports are applicable or provide revised recommendations as appropriate.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE SOILS REPORT IS APPROVED?
When the report is approved, the applicant will be notified of its approval and any special requirements such as the need for the Soils Engineer to review the final plans for conformance with report recommendations.
After issuance of the building permit, Building & Safety Division requires your soils engineer to be involved during construction. Several letters or reports are required to be submitted to your assigned Building Inspector at various times during construction. They are as follows:
1. When a project has engineered fills and / or grading, a letter from your soils engineer must be submitted to your assigned Building Inspector prior to foundations being excavated. This letter must state that the grading has been completed in conformance with the recommendations of the soils report. Compaction reports or a summary thereof must be submitted.
2. Prior to placing concrete for foundations, a letter from the soils engineer must be submitted to the Building Inspector stating that the soils engineer has observed the foundation excavation and that it meets the recommendations of the soils report.
3. At the completion of construction, a final letter from your soils engineer is required to be submitted to your assigned Building Inspector that summarizes the observations and the tests the soils engineer has made during construction. The final letter must also state the following: “Based upon our observations and tests, the project has been completed in conformance with our geotechnical recommendations.”
If the final soils letter identifies any items of work remaining to be completed or that any portions of the project were not observed by the soils engineer, you will be required to complete the remaining items of work and may be required to perform destructive testing in order for your permit to obtain a final inspection.
Soils (geotechnical) reports must be prepared by a licensed geotechnical engineer or registered civil engineer experienced in soils engineering. Only reports prepared by a properly licensed professional will be accepted for review.
The primary concern with hiring a consultant should be that they are familiar with the soils report requirements and are willing to meet these in a cost effective manner. The applicant should consult several sources, such as project design professionals or contractors, for references or recommendations of specific consultants. It is also advisable to obtain proposals and cost estimates from several different firms before a consultant is chosen. In many cases, several different firms should be consulted about report scope and cost before one is chosen.
Coordination of Professionals
Large projects, or development on geologically complex sites, can often require a team of professionals including an engineering geologist, a soils (geotechnical) engineer and a civil engineer. It is important that these professionals coordinate and communicate with one another; this coordination should be specifically included in their proposals. Coordination between the engineering geologist and the soils engineer is particularly important. The soils report prepared by the soils engineer will rely heavily on the geologic information contained in the geology report. Similarly, the civil engineer, who may design the foundation, retaining walls or other structural elements, will rely on the recommendations and design specifications laid out by the soil engineer. Ultimately, the final development plans will need to be reviewed by each professional to ensure consistency with their respective recommendation.
- Applicants can request a preliminary site visit by our Geologist Consultant to determine if a Soils Report is required for a project.
- You will be notified of the results via email by Building & Safety Staff.
- A Waiver will be issued if it is determined after the site visit that no Soils Report is required.
- Previous Tract files, Grading and Soil Reports can be viewed in-person only during normal business hours.
- Geology site visits are conducted only on Wednesdays unless otherwise specified by staff.
- Counter hours for our Geologist Consultants are only on Wednesdays 9am-11am by APPOINTMENT ONLY.
- Submit your Geology Application and Soils Reports if applicable by using E-Submittal to schedule a site visit and start the review process.
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No work allowed, unless a Special Construction Permit is obtained from the director. Said permit must be requested at least 48 hours before work.