Building requirements in some parts of the country include strict specifications for the type of soil used in site development. DE Storage found out the hard way. Based in Delaware, the company has mini storage units across the state, and is involved in commercial office space, stick-built homes, marinas, campgrounds and more.
When the company decided to venture into neighboring Pennsylvania, it ran into building rules and restrictions it hadn’t anticipated. “When we started this work, they were specifying certain types of soil to be used in stormwater management in a basement,” says operations manager Chris Teetor.
DE Storage was initially advised that there was enough soil to meet its needs (800 cubic yards) on site. But a second soil test said otherwise. The excavation company informed Teetor that it would cost $37.50 per yard, plus trucking, to bring the good soil over an hour’s drive.
“It was over $48,000 extra that we hadn’t anticipated,” says Teetor.
Teetor immediately began researching alternatives. “It’s sort of word of mouth, down to talking to other site building companies and saying, ‘Hey, do you know where else I can get this or do you have it and can’t- You don’t use it?” And everyone was like, ‘No, we pay for it too, and that’s just the way Pennsylvania has become.'”
Dissatisfied, Teetor began to do more research. In the end, he chose to try a site that had appeared in his Internet search feed for the past few months.
“It took me three weeks to use Soil Connect,” he says. “It was kind of like a last resort.”
From paid to free
Soil Connect is a digital platform that connects those who have land with those who need it. Founded in 2018 by third-generation builder and developer Cliff Fetner, the mobile and web app is intended to solve many of the inefficiencies associated with transportation and soil management.
The app combines technology and social networking capabilities to serve as a “one-stop-shop for all things dirt.” Users can post lists and requests for soil, aggregates and other materials, and can even download vendor-certified geotechnical analyzes and reports. The app can enable soil suppliers and recipients to transact over shorter distances between job sites for faster turnaround times and reduced transportation costs.
While Teetor was familiar with Soil Connect, he previously had no need to use it. “We’ve always had jobs in Delaware where [we had the soil] on our site. I never had to look for a certain type of floor that wasn’t within phone range,” he explains.
But then the Pennsylvania project came along, and Teetor turned to the app in desperation. “I had gone through every contact I had had for 26 years and [couldn’t] think there was no other way to do this,” he says. “I put my ad and four days later a guy who’s 45 minutes away calls me up and says, ‘I think [I have] What do you need. You can have it.’ It saved us $30,000 because we didn’t have to pay $37.50 per meter for it. »
The only cost was transporting the material to and from the location to the job site. “It still cost us $18,000 to get it where it needed to be, but it’s better than $48,000,” Teetor says.
“It was crazy because it took three weeks of calls to find someone who was just around the corner who just hadn’t advertised but was also looking at Soil Connect,” Teetor comments. “I was a bit shocked because no one told you that you should try it.”
The application is free and the process is quick and intuitive. “They put a ‘pin drop’ right where people have [material] that they have to leave their yard or where they are looking for it, what type it is, if there is a prize involved, if there are no restrictions,” Teetor points out. “It was super easy to use. I was just starting to get over the hurdle of thinking it was going to be finding a needle in a haystack.
Users can create announcements to obtain and dispose of material. “It took me three minutes to post my ad…and four days later I had $30,000 in savings,” says Teetor.
He was so impressed that DE Storage is already planning to use the app on his next project. “I’m going to use it for the work I’m doing right now because we have excess topsoil,” Teetor notes. “As soon as I know we’re ready to start losing him, I’ll put him on Soil Connect because I know there are guys who will be like, ‘Well, we’ll take him. We’ll load it up, get it out of there, and clean it up when we’re done.
“But if I put it out there and somebody says, ‘I’m going to pay for it,’ it’ll go to [them to help] offset some of the cost of transporting the land,” he adds.
Bring people together
In addition to the cost savings, Teetor discovered an unexpected benefit of the app: a valuable new contact. He and the floor supplier continue to communicate.
“It was a good contact. We discussed other things like “who do you use for your landscaping, who do you use for your geotechnical services,” Teetor explains.
Bringing people and resources together is what the app is all about. “It attracts a whole bunch of people who wouldn’t have known about it,” says Teetor, who is happy to raise awareness. “I think the more people who use it, the more it’s really going to work. This was the only site to do this that was not targeted at a selected region…. To have this one where it is [covering] the whole of the United States, it makes your life easier.
“I could see [Soil Connect] as a very valuable tool for anyone in construction, excavation, site development,” he continues. “It saves so much time and money.”