Underpinning is a construction process that helps reinforce a weak foundation. It is one of the easiest ways to improve your home's structural integrity, avoid expensive repairs and prevent your house from collapsing. Besides, underpinned homes fetch a good price on the property market. Below is a guide discussing the underpinning process.
Reasons To Underpin Your House
Underpinning offers extra support to a weak foundation. Your foundation could become weak for many reasons. First, over time, the soil beneath your house could shift or suffer subsidence. Besides, its qualities can change. For example, clay soil can expand or contract. Likewise, flooding and poor drainage can cause soil erosion around the foundation. In this case, the foundation becomes weak.
In addition, things like trees with long fibrous roots could damage the foundation. They could also suck moisture from the ground, thus causing the soil to shrink. As a result, the foundation becomes compromised. Further, the foundation could also become weak due to poor designs or the use of low-quality construction material.
How To Underpin Your House
Underpinning begins with a house inspection to determine the extent of the damage. Typically, this inspection should be conducted by a qualified and experienced structural engineer. The professional will assess the current damage, determine the cause of the damage and note any future risk factors. Besides, they will assess the building blueprints to ensure they comply with the current building code and local laws. The engineer will then calculate the dead and imposed loads to determine how strong the foundation should be.
The structural engineer may recommend one or several of the following types of underpinning:
- Mass concrete underpinning for shallow foundations. Concrete trenches underneath your existing foundation bear the load of the building.
- Pier and beam underpinning involves the installation of reinforced concrete beams beneath the current foundation. It is ideal for deep foundations and on all types of soils.
- Pile underpinning strengthens the foundation walls. It can be used to prevent subsidence caused by weak soils or waterlogging.
- Resin underpinning involves the injection of resin underneath the current foundation. The compound expands and seals any cracks and empty spaces beneath the foundation.
Hire an experienced contractor to conduct the underpinning works. Preferably, they should be ready to work under the supervision of the structural engineer or an accredited certifier. In most cases, you will need a permit from your local council to underpin your house. If you live in a high-risk area, your home insurance policy could cover the underpinning works. Contact a house underpinning company for more information.