Pacific Palisades – New Construction – Every Project has its challenges…

By: Otis Bradley


Project: Pacific Palisades, California – Soils Tests

Architecture: Elizabeth Stevenson
Builder: Otis Bradley Company, Inc.
Interior Design: Otis Bradley Company, Inc.


Here’s a conundrum … it’s really important to know your property before you buy it. In our area of southern California soils engineering is key. We are in a high xxx earthquake zone.

But – lots of soils engineers won’t do soils tests before a sale because if they find challenging conditions and the buyer decides not to buy – then the soils guy gets blamed and sued!

A catch 22….cart before the horse. Some engineers will give “opinions,” – happened here.

Looks like a normal lot !


After removal of the existing house – the soil is removed and re-compacted.  A “flip flop” technique is used meaning you dig one side of the lot and pile up your dirt on the other – then vice a versa.  Excavating 5 feet down with a huge bulldozer and then re filling the dirt tightly compacted with testing done each 2 feet by the soils engineer – the ground is made uniform for the new structure.


“All clear, shouldn’t be any problems, go ahead.”  But shortly after the purchase, the test borings for the soils report – (soils engineering is required for the structural engineer to design the appropriate structural system for the house). revealed an underground water!  Underneath a house that already existed on the property for 40 years with no signs of problems.   But to build by today’s code we had to sink 16 concrete caissons into the ground from 30 to 50 down. With grade beams to support a structural slab to hold up the house. Kind of like building a parking structure into the ground to hold up the house.

Drilling and sleeving for  the caissons – this is often done for construction on the beach.



The engineer looks on at $ per hour !!!


Steel sleeves lowered into holes prevents the water from caving the holes.   Filling with concrete – the water is displaced.  Makes for messy work!




Otis Bradley Company, Inc. Feel free to copy, share or re post this article. Kindly make sure to include this information: Written by Otis Bradley, a Custom Home Builder, in Southern California. Please see for more information on Custom Home Building!