Foundations in House Construction UK
The base of every home, the foundations that will hold up the weight of walls, floors, ceilings and roof, are crucially important to get absolutely right, before they disappear from sight, hopefully for good.
The foundations are the first line of expense in the physical building of a house, and the nearer they can adhere to plan, the nearer the projected costs will be kept to.
A professional structural engineer can be an expensive start to the proceedings, their charges reflecting the responsibility they take on for their decisions how the groundworks are done, often resorting quickly to pilings, for a full “insurance policy”.
A local builder, should have enough knowledge to start site clearance, marking out, and initial trench work. Trenches must be one metre in depth as a minimum, if the builder is happy with it, the buildings inspector is then called in to agree it, or call for more depth to be dug.
The trenches will be dug according to the plans which identify all the load bearing walls which are where the trenches are dug.
“Opening-up” can lead to the very first hiccups in the construction schedule. Unexpected or un- charted pipe work, old wells or pits, or even foundations of long gone buildings can bring extra expense, but with modern, powerful machinery, most obstacles can be overcome in one way or another.
Where the ground has poor drainage or is weak in structure, piling specialists can be brought in to provide stable footings. Some contractors use piling for every site as it gives a known cost for each new build.
Piles are driven into the ground and the tube-like holes are filled with concrete and the whole foundation gets topped with a ground beam to build off.
There are two types of foundation which are normally employed in standard new-build, strip foundation and trench fill foundation.
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Most modern contractors prefer the trench fill, where concrete is poured in to within 150mm of the surface ground level, avoiding the labour costs of bricklaying below ground level, saving time, but using more material.
The sides of the trench play as larger part as the bottom in supporting the load of the house, so the trench fill can only be used where the ground is stable, such as clay and chalk and the trench sides are firm and unmoving.
Where the build is on softer or sandy type soils, strip foundations are normally used. A layer of concrete, around 250mm is poured on the base of the trench, and blockwork built up to ground level, where the damp course allows a change to brick or stone work if desired.