Before beginning a building project, it’s sensible to carry out a professional ground survey. Normally, trial holes are dug around the area so that a decision can be made regarding a suitable foundation. You will likely need to hire a structural engineer to perform this survey; it is too big a risk to take on the responsibility of designing your own foundations.

You cannot know what lies below ground without an adequate survey. There may be obstacles such as mine shafts or wells, which will require additional funding to remove or work around. For this reason, it’s always advisable to save some contingency funds.

If you hire an engineer, they will assess the area for big trees and boggy ground, as well as evaluating the condition of the soil. Unfortunately, if you build on substandard soil your new structure may end up with cracks and leaks due to ground movement. Essentially, the ground needs to be able to hold your building with limited amount of movement or change in shape.

If the ground conditions are not ideal, you may want to consider building a basement. Although expensive, it may work out as a more cost effective option because it will likely add value to the property and provide extra space for the inhabitants.

As well as an engineer, it’s also wise to discuss your plans with your neighbours and local builders because they may share some background information about the area and the success or failure of nearby buildings. It’s a good idea to speak to your local building inspector.