Pilings are an essential part in the construction of any building to give it the support it needs with a deep foundation. If the pilings are poorly built, the groundwork is insufficient, or the structural calculations are not perfect, the integrity of the structure is compromised. This could cause damage to the building itself or make the building unsafe for entry.
Pilings consist of concrete, steel or wood that is inserted deeply into the ground to give a sturdy base for your construction project. As the foundation on which you will build your structure, you want to make sure it is built correctly. You need to make sure you find the right person for the job.
When choosing a piling company, it is important to know what type of foundation you will need. Deep foundations are necessary when the ground and soil conditions are poor and the building to be constructed is going to be more than one story tall. If you are building a skyscraper, you will want a deep foundation to support many floors. If you have an existing building with a poor foundation, mini pilings may be the solution. Educate yourself with online forums to learn the basics so when the contractor is on site, you can ask the right questions and better understand the situation.
A piling contractor will be able to look at your site and determine what foundation will work best for you. They should be easy to talk to and open to explaining things to you. Someone who is rushed when discussing your plans may also be rushed on the job. If one company suggests a piling technique while another company gives you a different technique or material, ask questions. One may have noticed something the other did not based on individual experience.
The cost of the project should never be the deciding factor, but it’s certainly a significant component to consider. Saving money now could mean higher costs in the future when the foundation must be repaired due to being cheaply constructed. Find someone who fits your budget, but can also give a breakdown of the price so you know exactly what each step of the process costs.
A good piling company will stand behind their work and many of them offer a guarantee of 5-25 years. Be sure you choose a company that offers wide coverage guarantee insurance that provides insurance for both the pilings and the structure built on top. If any damage occurs in the building or the piles, the insurance should cover the cost of repair. It also shows the confidence of the contractors and their work, which will give you peace of mind.
If a company only offers product guarantee insurance, just the piles are insured. If the building is structurally unsound due to a defect in one or more of the piles, the cost of demolition of a structure and the rebuild fall on the client, so be careful of this.
A piling contractor should know a lot about soil and its bearing capacity and, as a result, will design the pilings layout to best distribute the weight of the building. When looking at the design the contractor has come up with, be sure to ask about the number of pilings and how they are spread out to make sure you have enough in the right places.
Finding Mini Piling Contractors
There are regular pilings, but there are also variations of these, or mini pilings, also called micro piles. These are commonly used to strengthen an existing foundation. Mini pilings are also used as foundations for bridges, highways, and transmission towers. Sites that have restricted access as well as environmental sensitivities can benefit from mini pilings, since they are less intrusive than the regular ones.
A narrow diameter piling is inexpensive and light while still offering support to a heavy load, but it must be the right pile for the job and any piling contractor should know this. A contractor will help you determine whether a deep pile or mini pile will work best for you and the foundation to your structure.
You can find a good mini piling contractor by searching for local contractors. It’s a good idea to check out any reviews online or take a peek at the customer testimonials to figure out if they’re a company you want to work with.
Groundwork: What It Entails
Groundwork is essential, and legally required by most authorities, in determining the right method for the job. A ground investigation identifies previous uses for the land, soil conditions, and any potential problems that could show up. The investigation should identify potential issues such as soil instability, ground contamination, or any abandoned mines close by that could hinder the construction process.
To prep the land for building, the top soil is generally cleared from the site and levelled if needed. If the ground slopes too much, a retaining wall may be necessary to create a level surface on which to build the structure.
At this point in the groundwork, substructures may be introduced as a way to make the building foundation stronger. This involves digging a large area into the soil to create a basement or car park. These underground walls give the building and the ground more stability, much like an indoor retaining wall.
In some cases, the ground may need to be stabilised before construction begins. There are a few methods to stabilise the ground that range from soil nailing to ground screws. Soil nailing involves drilling holes into the ground and inserting steel bars into the holes on a sloping area. The bars are kept in place with grout and a mesh is attached to hold the sloping ground in place.
Ground anchors use metal wedges that are driven into the slope. Steel cables are then attached to the finishing plate and pulled taut. This type of stabiliser is used on retaining walls, transmission towers and more.
Depending on the structure, utility connections and drainage may be a part of the groundwork. Cabling and service ducts may need to be installed which will mean a tunnelling specialist will need to be involved. Electricity cables, water and other existing service may require some alterations based on the design of the construction site.
The final part of groundwork is landscaping. This will need to be considered in the groundwork plans so soil is not piled up in areas that will need to be flattened again.
Structural Calculations You’ll Need to Know
Structural calculations need to be 100% correct as any inaccuracies can cause severe damage, not only to the structure you are building, but to the structures around it. Any errors can lead to insurance problems and possible legal issues.
Many piling companies have in-house structural engineers who are specifically trained to make calculations for the rigidity, stability and strength of structures. These engineers often work with other contractors or engineers and supervise the project construction on site.
These engineers understand the structural performance of various structural shapes and materials. They are able to build detailed structures with the use of assorted through applied mathematics and mechanics as well as materials science. A good engineer can make structural calculations to predict how a structure can support and resist imposed loads and self weight.
Structural calculations are made easier with the introduction of specialist software. AutoCAD, Prokon, Inducta RCB and StaadPro are just a few examples of software used to design, draw and analyse structures with precision. These types of software may also be used to calculate environmental factors such as high winds and earthquakes.
There is a lot to take into consideration when choosing a piling. You need to give your structure the safe support it needs, so finding the right company to take on your big project should not be taken lightly or rushed. Decide what you need and select the company based on those needs.
Are you looking for a company to handle pilings and groundwork in your area? Call 118 Foundations to book a site visit today.