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The University of Queensland CIVL3210 Geotechnical Engineering Footingss

Footings on reactive clay sites


Definitions
Footing: the construction which transfers load from the building to the ground
Foundation: the ground that supports the building (footing)
Reactive: clay soil (foundation) which swells on wetting and shrinks on drying by an
amount which can damage buildings on light strip footings or unstiffened slabs.

Australian Standard
AS 2870 1996 Residential Slabs and Footings Construction
There is also a supplement available for this Standard.

Code AS2870
Takes precedence over AS3600 for residential footings system design and
construction
Adopts as a basic premise that a certain incidence of defects is normal and
acceptable
The footing systems complying with this Standard are intended to achieve acceptable
probabilities of serviceability and safety of the building during its design life. Buildings
supported by footing systems designed and constructed in accordance with this Standard
on a normal site which is
(a) not subject to abnormal moisture conditions; and
(b) maintained such that the original site classification remains valid and abnormal
moisture conditions do not develop;
are expected to experience usually no damage, a low incidence of damage category 1 and
an occasional incidence of damage category 2.

Overview
Climatic variations (drying and wetting) cause shrink-swell effects of open
ground surface. Vertical movements up to 50mm in areas within Brisbane, 150
200mm west of Toowoomba.
For covered areas, the restriction of evaporative loss results in net cumulative
moisture content gain. Covered areas start swelling quickly (within weeks),
but may not reach final equilibrium moisture content (surface profile) until up
to 10-15 years. Therefore damage to buildings may not occur until many years
after construction.
Code requires each site to be classified by one or more of 3 methods
Based on classification an appropriate footing system is chosen
Each footing system has a set of construction requirements set out in the code,
covering site fill, edge beam depth, vapour barrier, edge rebate detail, concrete
grade, reinforcement, sloping sites.

Design of Footings
Deemed-to-comply footing designs given in standard or
Design by engineering principles

Dr Robert Day, The University of Queensland, 2009


The University of Queensland CIVL3210 Geotechnical Engineering Footingss

Site classification

Foundation Class
Most sand and rock sites with little of no ground movement A
from moisture changes
Slightly reactive clay and silt sites. Slight ground movement S
from moisture changes
Moderately reactive clay sites. Moderate ground movement M
from moisture changes
Highly reactive clay sites. High ground movement from H
moisture changes
Extremely reactive clay sites. Extreme ground movement E
from moisture changes
Filled sites A to P
Problem sites: P
Soft soil
Landslip risk or debris
Mine subsidence
Collapsing soils
Soils subject to erosion

Methods of classification
Procedure for classifying sites, other than P sites, must include one or more of:
1. Identification of the soil profile and examination and interpretation of
existing masonry building walls on light strip footings > 10 years old. (refer
AS2870)

2. Identification of the soil profile and classification from established data on


the performance of houses on that soil. (Data base and/or experience)

3. Computation of the characteristic surface movement.

Surface movement Class


0 mm < ys 20 mm S
20 mm < ys 40 mm M
40 mm < ys 70 mm H
70 mm < ys E

Dr Robert Day, The University of Queensland, 2009


The University of Queensland CIVL3210 Geotechnical Engineering Footingss

CLASSIFICATION OF DAMAGE WITH REFERENCE TO WALLS

Approximate crack Damage


Description of typical damage and required repair
width limit category

Hairline cracks. < 0.1 mm 0


Fine cracks which do not need repair. < 1 mm 1
Cracks noticeable but easily filled. Doors and windows stick
< 5 mm 2
slightly.
5 mm to 15 mm
Cracks can be repaired and possibly a small amount of wall will
(or a number of cracks 3
need to be replaced. Doors and windows stick. Service pipes 3
mm or more in one
can fracture. Weather tightness often impaired.
group)
Extensive repair work involving breaking-out and replacing
15 mm to 25 mm
sections of walls, especially over doors and windows. Window
but also depends on 4
and door frames distort. Walls lean or bulge noticeably, some
number of cracks
loss of bearing in beams. Service pipes disrupted.

CLASSIFICATION OF DAMAGE WITH REFERENCE TO CONCRETE FLOORS

Change in offset from


Approx. crack Damage
Description of typical damage a 3 m straight edge
width limit category
cantered over defect

Hairline cracks, insignificant movement of slab


< 0.3 mm < 8 mm 0
from level
Fine but noticeable cracks. Slab reasonably
< 1.0 mm < 10 mm 1
level
Distinct cracks. Slab noticeably curved or
< 2.0 mm < 15 mm 2
changed in level
Wide cracks. Obvious curvature or change in
2 mm to 4 mm 15 mm to 25 mm 3
level
Gaps in slab. Disturbing curvature or change
4 mm to 10 mm > 25 mm 4
in level

SIMPLE CLASSIFICATION BY INTERPRETATION OF FOOTING PERFORMANCE


Table 2.2 in AS2870
Primary
Performance of walls of existing buildings on lightly
Wall construction classification
stiffened strip footings or slabs on ground
of site
Clad frame Buildings with differential movements, d (lowest to highest
points on perimeter of building)
d 15 mm S
15 < d 30 mm M
30 < d 50 mm H
d>50 mm E
Masonry (veneer or full) Damage Category 0 to Category 1 S to M
Damage often Category 1 but rarely Category 2 M to H
Damage often Category 1 and 2, but rarely Category 3 H
Damage often Category 3 or more severe and area usually
E
well known for damage to houses and structures

Dr Robert Day, The University of Queensland, 2009


The University of Queensland CIVL3210 Geotechnical Engineering Footingss

Typical Footing systems (Refer to AS2870 for details)

Typical Footing Slab for class A sites

Typical suspended floor

Dr Robert Day, The University of Queensland, 2009


The University of Queensland CIVL3210 Geotechnical Engineering Footingss

Edge and internal beams Slab mesh

Site class Type of construction Maximum


Depth Bottom spacing Slab length Slab length
Slab length
(D) reinforc- centre to 18 & 25m &
<18m
mm ement centre <25m <30m
(m)
Class A Clad frame 300 3-L8TM SL72 SL82 SL92
Articulated masonry veneer 300 3-L8TM SL72 SL82 SL92
Masonry veneer 300 3-L8TM SL72 SL82 SL92
Articulated full masonry Full 400 3-L8TM SL72 SL82 SL92
masonry 400 3-L8TM SL72 SL82 SL92
Class S Clad frame 300 3-L8TM SL72 SL82 SL92
Articulated masonry veneer 300 3-L8TM SL72 SL82 SL92
Masonry veneer 300 3-L11TM SL72 SL82 SL92
Articulated full masonry 400 3-L11TM SL72 SL82 SL92
Full masonry 450 3-L11TM 5.0 SL82 SL82 SL92
Class M Clad frame 300 3-L11TM 6.0 SL72 SL82 SL92
Articulated masonry veneer 400 3-L11TM 6.0 SL72 SL82 SL92
Masonry veneer 400 3-L11TM 5.0 SL72 SL82 SL92
Articulated full masonry 500 3-L12TM 4.0 SL82 SL82 SL92
Full masonry 800 3-N16 4.0 SL92 SL92 SL92
Class H Clad frame 400 3-L11TM 5.0 SL72 SL82 SL92
Articulated masonry veneer 500 3-L12TM 4.0 SL82 SL82 SL92
Masonry veneer 700 3-N16 4.0 SL92 SL92 SL92
Articulated full masonry 1 000 4-N16 4.0 SL102 SL102 SL102
Full masonry

Typical Stiffened Raft

Dr Robert Day, The University of Queensland, 2009


The University of Queensland CIVL3210 Geotechnical Engineering Footingss

Slab mesh
Beam Bar size
Site class and type of construction depth beam Slab Slab length
mm reinforcement length 25m &
<25m <30m
Class A
Clad frame, articulated masonry veneer and masonry veneer 260 N-12 SL72 SL82
Single-storey articulated full masonry and single-storey full 310 N-12 SL72 SL82
masonry
Class S
Clad frame, articulated masonry veneer and masonry veneer 260 N-12 SL72 SL82
Single-storey articulated full masonry 310 N-12 SL72 SL82
Class M
Clad frame, articulated masonry veneer and masonry veneer 310 N-12 SL72 SL82
Class H
Clad frame 310 N-12 SL72 SL82
Articulated masonry veneer 385 N-12 SL82 SL92

Typical Waffle Raft

Dr Robert Day, The University of Queensland, 2009


The University of Queensland CIVL3210 Geotechnical Engineering Footingss

Stiffened raft systems on Reactive Clay sites


Drainage and control of runoff water is an important part of the standard
designs.
Rafts do not stop houses moving as the ground shrinks and swells. The aim is
to control the differential deflection (curvature) of the superstructure to keep
damage within acceptable limits.
All elements of the house should be included on the raft.
All parts of the raft must be tied together structurally.
The raft must be STIFF enough to keep movements within acceptable limits
The raft must be STRONG enough to move without breaking.
The rigorous structural analysis and design of a concrete raft on a reactive clay
is not simple: It is remarkably complex.
Detailing of rafts is important

Detailing of Rafts
Codes AS2870 sets out minimum designs for beam stiffness, spacing and
reinforcement.

Additional detailing is required:


Beam stiffness Reduce beam spacing if depth is reduced
Beam Layout
o Re-entrant corners
o Beam continuity
o Beam spacing measured "around the corner" at the side/end
o Extent of raft to cover the whole area of the main roof.
Detailing
o Control joints (permanent joints such as contraction, expansion) must
NOT be used in the slab. They reduce the concrete section (stiffness)
o Vertical construction joints are acceptable
o Beam intersections

Cautionary notes
Houses are founded in the shallow upper layer. Conditions usually vary
across the site. (cut, fill, drainage, changing strata)
Comprehensive geotechnical data rarely available
Highly competitive industry based on price. Usually the engineers fee is not
high enough to cover proper design.
Designers rarely have much control over construction procedures and
workmanship standards
Higher than normal involvement of regulatory bodies (Local Council, etc)
A certain incidence of defects is normal and acceptable
Owner is required to maintain a stable moisture regime - trees, gardens,
watering, drainage. (Mostly not understood and often neglected)
The owner is responsible for the maintenance of the building and the site
and should be familiar with the performance and maintenance
requirements set out in the CSIRO pamphlet, 10-91, Guide to Home
Owners on Foundation Maintenance and Footing Performance.

Dr Robert Day, The University of Queensland, 2009