The Pacific Northwest provides the perfect conditions for landslides. Our naturally hilly terrain is often saturated with water from rain or runoff due to poor drainage and development. Sometimes, homeowners don’t realize that removing trees and vegetation from sloped areas can further compound the risk of a slide.
Even a small slide can pose a threat to nearby structures and roadways, and those who use them. If you are worried about a slope on or near your property the first step is to contact a civil engineer who has experience with the slope stabilization process. Although every slope stabilization project is unique, here is a basic step-by-step guide of what to expect from the process:
Step One: Assessment
A civil engineer can visit your property to assess the slope. The engineer will look for signs the slope is sliding and identify potential causes of instability. The engineer will recommend a geotechnical engineer to investigate the soils at the site. Soil exploration can help the geotechnical engineer understand soil properties, asses the risk of a landslide, and recommend options for slope stabilization.
Step Two: Develop a Solution
Based on soil analysis and recommendations provided by the geotechnical engineer, the civil engineer will develop a repair or plan for your slope or slide. Stabilizing the soil will often require a retaining structure designed by a structural engineer which includes addressing drainage behind the wall. A topographical survey is usually required for design.
Step Three: Permitting
The engineer can submit the repair documents to the proper jurisdictions for permit approval and respond to comments from the jurisdiction(s) as necessary to obtain permits for construction.
Step Four: Contractor Bids
Once the design is completed, the homeowner will be able to forward construction drawings to contractors of their choice to provide bid estimates and carry out the repair construction.
Step Five: Construction Engineering & Support
The engineer can provide construction services to the contractor throughout the repair, monitoring the repair process to ensure it is being executed according to the plans. They will also be available throughout construction to efficiently address unforeseen circumstances that may arise during construction. Geotechnical engineering observations and testing are usually required during construction.
Although the slope stabilization process can seem intimidating, if you engage the right professionals for the job, it shouldn’t be. If you have a slope on or near your property that shows signs of instability it is wise to consult a professional engineer to determine if it poses an immediate threat to your property.