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Residential Foundations And Pile Options for Building


Nov 14, 2017 #Business, #Construction

Foundations are just as important to the construction of homes as they sound. The ideal foundation and the right technology to build it depend on multiple factors, including the type of soil, the size of the building, and the needs of the customer. Creating a quality foundation is vitally important in order to maximize the useful life of the building and avoid potentially-costly damage in the future like cracked walls and spring flooding.

Basic Foundation Types

1) Belt Foundations

Most often seen beneath low-rise buildings, belt foundations are capable of supporting fairly heavy constructions. Belt foundations can be built either out of monolithic concrete or modular blocks. Cast-in-place foundations require building up formwork before pouring concrete.

2) Monolithic/Slab Foundations

A slab foundation provides more support than a simple belt because it provides a strong reinforced concrete structure underneath the entire house. A monolithic slab foundation is especially useful in soil conditions where subsidence is a potential problem. A properly-constructed slab will preserve the integrity and structural strength of a building even if soil conditions shift.

3) Columnar Foundations

As their name suggests, columnar foundations take the form of vertical concrete pillars which supply support. Individual foundation columns are tied into a strapping beam which supports the structure above. Because there are limits to the amount of stability a columnar foundation can provide, they are commonly only used beneath single-story wooden houses.

4) Pile Foundations

This is an appropriate foundation solution for multi-story buildings. Pile foundation systems can be used in any type of soil. Additional advantages of pile foundations include the fact that they do not need extensive earthworks prior to installation; excavating a pit is not required. Residential piles typically vary between four and six meters. The ultimate size and shape of piles that are right for your home will vary based on soil conditions.

Residential Pile Types

1) Driven Piles

Properly-designed driven piles can provide reliable stability for buildings of virtually any size. Architects and engineers calculate the total weight of the planned building and plan out a piling system that splits its weight evenly across multiple piles. Individual piles are hammered into place using heavy equipment. The depth to which piles are driven depends on soil conditions and overall weight; when properly placed, driven piles distribute the load of the structure into the soil beneath in a safe and reliable fashion.

As noted above, driving piles relies on specialized equipment. Pneumatic hammers are typically used to place square-section piles or hammered concrete pipe piles. This is not the sort of construction activity that can be handled by a few individuals with hand tools. Thus driven piles are not a viable choice for use in small self-constructed projects like summer cottages.

2) Screw Piles

Screw piles take the form of steel pipes with heavy-duty threads welded to them. They function similarly to an ordinary construction screw on a much larger scale. One additional advantage of screw piles is that the thread increases the total area of contact between the pile and the soil around it, providing added stability. Screw piles going into especially soft ground are typically threaded over their entire length.

Screw piles are a more practical option for small-scale self-construction. Screw piles can be installed with modest equipment or even done by hand. Manual installation does require two or more strong workers. Screw piles still need to be accurately positioned in order to properly support the structure built above. Both the placement and the vertical depth of the piles must be precisely controlled. Once screw piles are fully embedded in the ground, they are filled with concrete.

In order to be durable and reliable, screw piles must be adequately prepared for their soil conditions before installation. The welds attaching the screw to the pile must be preserved; if the screw detaches the bearing capacity of the pile will be significantly reduced. Screw piles installed in temperate climates must be protected from the adverse effects of soil freezing.

3) Bored Piles

Bored piles are installed by excavating an open shaft in the soil. If the ground conditions are suitable, this hole can be opened up without formwork, and concrete can be poured directly into the hole. Bored piles can still be created in loose soil; they simply require well casing to preserve the necessary shape.

Piles are typically installed around the outer perimeter of a house and beneath interior walls. The number of piles required will vary depending on the final weight of the structure to be built.

While different types of pile foundation can be adapted to work on the same site, ultimately the ideal technology will depend on the specifics of the construction project. Screw-pile foundations are especially flexible, but there are limits to the situations in which they are truly cost-effective.

By Emily