The construction industry is filled with many different tasks which are essential to the success of the project. The roofing of the building, walls, and internal fittings are of course the first things that will likely come to mind when discussing the construction. Though, one of the most important aspects is often ignored or overlooked. It’s hardly surprising really considering the section in question is often completely hidden from view. However, it is one of the most important parts and without it, the building simply would not stand up.
The section in question is, as the name of this blog suggests, the foundations. The foundations of a building really are the unsung heroes of the construction world but what are they and how do they work? Find out in this quick guide!
The concept of foundations is an incredibly ancient one and buildings dating back thousands of years still feature large and sometimes incredibly complex examples. This may be somewhat surprising but there are many examples of the concept being used across the globe. Naturally, some of the truly ancient buildings like the Great Pyramid of Giza did not feature any man-made foundations. Instead, the structure was built directly upon the desert’s bedrock which, to some extent, could be classified as a foundation even though the Egyptians didn’t build it themselves.
Why are foundations so important?
Essentially foundations create a solid base for buildings to be constructed on. Often, the land around buildings doesn’t have bedrock near the surface like the area in which the Pyramids are built. Instead, the soil which is often found is hardly fit to be built upon. So, to get around this issue civilisations created the concept of the foundation. Essentially a foundation is a solid base which is created in the shape of the planned building so the walls and other structural elements have something solid below them. This simple concept creates an incredibly strong structure and one that can support incredibly large and tall buildings.
In the modern era, there is no question that our foundations and groundworks are amazingly advanced. The technology is so well-engineered that we can now create buildings in earthquake-prone areas that easily handle large tremors. This is just one example but the fact is that foundations are now one of the most researched and developed building techniques in the construction industry and a vital aspect of the building process. Your building would not only be incredibly unsafe without a foundation but it would also be illegal and probably the only building in the area without one.
Types of foundations
Essentially, there are two main types of foundations. Shallow foundations and deep foundations. These two different forms are used for very different projects but still hold the same basic principles. Essentially, the shallow iteration is usually wider than it is deep and supports lighter buildings such as residential homes or barns. Naturally, this is because these buildings require far less to keep them secure as they weigh very little in comparison to large skyscrapers or industrial buildings. Shallow foundations are, on average, far cheaper to build than deep foundations and take less time to construct as well.
Deep foundations on the other hand are used for far larger projects and can support an incredible amount of weight. Buildings such as shopping centres, large multi-storey car parks, and skyscrapers will all feature these large foundations. The concept essentially works on creating a solid base that runs right down to the bedrock underneath the building. This acts like glue for the building and allows for incredibly heavy or tall buildings to maintain their strength. These deep foundations can even reach a depth of over 250 feet which of course makes them incredibly strong. This strength is the main reason why many earthquake-prone areas choose to build their structures upon deep foundations.
Different forms of shallow foundations
As you might expect there are a variety of foundation methods that come under the shallow foundation umbrella. So, check out this section to learn more about these different forms.
Mat (raft) foundations
The clue really is in the name of this form of foundation. Essentially, it consists of one large continuous rectangular or circular slab of concrete. This concrete slab is, of course, situated underneath the building and helps to distribute the weight across the surface area of the structure. This means that this form of foundation will be able to support a number of walls and columns at once which is incredibly useful for farmyard or domestic buildings. These reasons are a large contributor to the raft foundation’s popularity and it is now one of the most common small building foundation types in the country.
Spread footings are the bottom part of a foundation and are often the part which actually makes contact with the ground. This element of the foundation is responsible for transferring the weight of the building into the ground below and stopping moisture from entering the structure. Moisture coming from the ground is a common problem for buildings which don’t feature advanced foundation methods such as this and this can cause severe structural issues.
The design features a wide base and large column which connects with the rest of the foundation. This wide base helps to spread the load of the building creating an incredibly strong base.
Basement foundations are fairly self-explanatory really. The walls of the basement are often completely submerged underneath ground level and act as a base for the rest of the house above. The walls of the basement must be incredibly strong to support the lateral force of the earth on the other side and often feature many structural reinforcement elements.
Essentially there are two main types of basement foundations. There is the full basement which we have described above and then there is the daylight basement foundation. This form of basement is often used when buildings are on a hill. One side of the building is completely exposed and the other side is built into the hillside with the ground level being fully submerged into the hillside.
Crawl space foundations
These foundations use a series of pillars which are attached to concrete bases on the ground. The pillars elevate the house about three to four feet above the ground which allows access to plumbing and electric elements of the building. These foundation types are often fairly cheap to install and last a fairly long time. Often you will see crawl space foundations in warmer climates as the gap between the ground and the floor allows for air to freely circulate beneath the home.
Concrete slab foundations
This is arguably the most common foundation type for smaller buildings and simply features a large concrete slab between six and eight inches thick. This slab will follow the same footprint as the building above and usually varies in thickness depending on the weight of the building above. Many smaller buildings will opt for this option as it is by far the cheapest and the easiest to install.
Types of deep foundations
As the name suggests, deep foundations are built much further into the ground than shallow foundations and are usually created to support larger and heavier buildings such as skyscrapers and multi-story car parks. Check out a few of the most popular forms of deep foundations here!
A pile is a long tube structure usually made from steel or concrete. Pile foundations use a selection of these piles and drill them deep into the ground. At the surface, these piles are then attached to a large concrete base or raft which the building then sits upon. This multi-faceted structure creates an incredibly strong base for tall buildings.
These foundations are essentially waterproof hollow boxes which act as retaining structures. They are mainly used as underwater support for bridges and concrete dams.
If you need a group of experienced and professional groundwork specialists then make sure you contact us today. We have many years of experience in the industry and will certainly be able to help with your project. Our staff are extremely passionate and knowledgeable with a drive to complete work to the highest standard.