2018 Guide to Groundworks and Foundations

What is the first thing you should think about when building a house?

Personally, with any project I take on I always reach for the phone and call my trusted groundworks friend, DT Groundwork Contractor, immediately after finalising the design. Why? you may ask. Well, the foundations of the house are the most important and I need to know if what I’m designing will be sufficiently supported. This process will almost always begin with groundworks and I wanted to share some advice to bear in mind before breaking ground on any project.

Starting off on the right foot

To begin with, you should know that having the right foundations is not only important to you but also to the local planning authority so they can assess that you have built it on the approved plans. Even when they have only been presented with a drawing with no dimensions they will scale the plan to determine whether proximity to boundaries and the levels of the plan have been met correctly. This is to reduce any issues of overlooking or overshading neighbouring buildings.

It is important to check the settings from the very start, so taking the time to sit with a contractor and get them spot on is worth the time. The best way to do this is drive pegs into where the corners of the building and rooms are and draw a line between them with chalk spray. The foundation trenches can then be dug so you have a good idea of where the building will sit and allow planning enforcement officers to accurately take measurements of where the property will lay,

Types of Foundation

Trench fill foundation

This type of foundation is preferred by self-builders and used by most large-scale operators in the groundworks businesses. Trench fill avoids the need to lay bricks below ground level. Concrete is poured to within 150mm of the surface ground level, which saves time and trouble. Additionally, the sides of the trench play just as important role in supporting the load as the basin of the trench. For this reason, trench fill foundation should only be used on stable ground where the trench sides are firm and fully capable of bearing loads. Clay and chalk soils are the ideal ground materials for trench fill foundations.

Strip foundations

Strip foundations are usually wider and use much less concrete than conventional foundations by being thinner. This being down to the fact that they are usually only 300mm thick. Although, the exact dimension will be determined by the masonry courses of the walls up to the damp-proof course. If you are building on a sloping site, the foundations will need to be stepped to keep them level. These steps should overlap at least the width of the trench when concreted and that will mean shuttering them across. Strip foundations are often necessary when softer surrounding materials are available, such as softer soils and sand, since they are able to spread the load of the building over a greater area.