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I am going to build a deck next to an eight year old house, how would I be able to measure the density or compaction or settlement of the soil to determine the depth of the deck footings?

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You can determine the density of the soil by using the In situ soil density determination method For the full procedure of the method I have attached a pdf file, which you can download from:
Civil Engineering Laboratory Notebooks
OR from
In situ Soil Determination

 

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