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How to Spot Potential Sinkholes on Your Construction Site Part 1

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Contractors have enough to contend with without having to worry about the ground opening up and swallowing their construction site. While this might seem like hyperbole, it’s an unfortunate reality for contractors working in Florida, a state plagued by sinkholes. If left unchecked, sinkholes in the Sunshine State have the potential to derail a project and endanger human life. For this reason, a Florida contractor lawyer at Cotney Construction Law will be detailing how to spot and mitigate sinkhole risks on construction sites in this two-part article.

What is a Sinkhole?

A sinkhole is a hole or depression in the ground that is caused by a surface collapse. Sinkholes usually form when water travels through soil and dissolves rock, creating caverns and empty regions that are susceptible to collapse. Florida is particularly vulnerable to sinkholes due to the state being largely underlain by porous and soluble limestone. A combination of uneven rainfall and layers of limestone are why Central Florida is known as sinkhole alley.

What Are the Signs of a Sinkhole?

Seemingly stable pavement can collapse into a sinkhole with little to no warning and take anything on the surface with it. It is imperative that contractors be able to spot the signs of a potential sinkhole before it threatens a project and the safety of their workers. The signs that a sinkhole may be forming are as follows:

  • Cracks forming in nearby roads or sidewalks
  • A depression, subsidence, or slope on the property
  • Patches of dead grass or vegetation
  • Tilted trees or fence posts
  • Ponds that form after rainfall or suddenly drain

What follows are the signs that a sinkhole is forming after construction has commenced on a project:

  • A settling or slanting foundation
  • Walls separating from ceilings or floors
  • Cracks forming in walls or around doors and window frames
  • Cracking tile, grout, concrete blocks, Sheetrock, or brick

In some cases, there may be no sign that a sinkhole is forming under your construction site. This presents a unique danger to contractors, their crew, and their equipment. Construction companies will have to rely on more than ambiguous signs for sinkhole confirmation. For more information on how to spot and handle sinkholes on a construction site, please read part two. For all of your construction-related legal needs, partner with the experienced Florida contractor lawyers at Cotney Construction Law.

If you would like to speak with a Florida contractor lawyer, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.