1st Associated Independent Surveyors say: The mineral fraction of a given soil consists of sand, silt, and clay particles. Clay particles are the smallest of the three, silt are intermediate in size, and sand, the largest. Clay particles, bound end to end and side to side in extensive planes, are stacked in a sandwichlike matrix and held together by electrochemical forces. This platelike stacking of horizontally arranged clay particles results in a large surface area.
Due to individual clay particles are negatively charged, they have the capacity to attract and hold onto, or adsorb, positively charged elements (called cations) such as ammonium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and other trace elements. Clay soils are relatively fertile because of this capacity to adsorb these important plant nutrients. Conversely, the single, uncharged sand particles in sandy soils lack the capacity to absorb cations and thus they contribute very little to soil fertility.
There are many peat bogs in the UK but mostly in Ireland. Forests shed leaves and all the plant life decomposes and over time its squashed into coal and oil. Before it gets to coal and oil it becomes peat. Peat is basically decayed vegetation which is extremely rich in nutrients and isn’t at all compact. It’s the stuff you buy at a garden centre! Peat is a wet material and normally boggy, normally in a low area with a lot of water, it acts like a sponge that soaks up the water and has no compressive strength at all. If you build on top of it it sinks straight through.
Particularly in Ireland, they cut it with a shovel and is then used to light fires because its made of old decay and vegetation.
A property built in the midlands two or three years ago. When they had finished it, it started moving within a week! It had sunk 2ft 6” into the ground and when it was photographed you couldn’t see nothing of the house between the ground floor window sills.
Realistically, to build on peat you have to pile foundations through the peat - that’s the only way you can realistically build on it. You use a flotation slab – you work out the weight of the property per sq metre and you dig that weight per sq metre out of the ground, then you put your property with a raft on the bottom and build the house off the raft. This realistically doesn’t work because it costs too much money and your house effectively becomes a boat.
For help or advice please call 1st Associated on 0800 298 5424 or visit www.1stAssociated.co.uk